The founder of the Evangelical Hillsong Church in Australia, Brian Houston, dropped a bombshell on his worshippers today, announcing he was stepping aside from all church activities while he defends allegations he concealed his father’s child sexual abuse.
The pastor for the powerful evangelical church was charged in October last year with one count of concealing the serious indictable offence of another person.
Police allege Houston knew from September 1999 that his father Frank Houston had indecently assaulted a male in 1970.
Frank Houston was a Pentecostal Christian pastor in the Assemblies of God in New Zealand and Australia. He was born in Whanganui.
His son Brian was born in Auckland, and grew up in New Zealand until the family moved to Australia in 1978.
On Sunday, Brian Houston told the church’s congregation that the criminal charge came as a “complete shock” and he intends to “vigorously defend” it but this meant some changes.
He revealed to his followers his decision to immediately step down from his current duties as part of the church leadership.
“In December during our annual board retreat, Hillsong’s external legal counsel gave the board advice regarding the current charge I’m facing and that it would be best practice for me to step aside completely from church leadership during the court proceedings,” he told the congregation on Sunday morning.
“So its likely to be drawn out and take up most of 2022, especially considering the backlog in courts exacerbated by the Covid pandemic. And along with this the board and I have been having detailed discussions around requirements for leadership and we’ve talked about the effects of the situation with my father, going back many years up to the current legal case, and the impact that this has had on me emotionally.
“So the result is Hillsong’s global board feel it’s in my and the church’s best interest for this to happen, so I’ve agreed to step aside from all ministry responsibilities until the end of the year.”
The 67-year-old added he need to be “fully committed” to prepare his case and work closely with his lawyers to defend the charge and “set the record straight”.
In September last year, he also stepped aside as a director of all Hillsong boards.
Earlier this week, the Hillsong founder’s court matter was delayed once again after his lawyers told a court he would plead not guilty.
Lawyers for the mega-church founder requested via email Houston’s matter be adjourned so prosecutors and legal counsel could hold a case conference in February and re-list the matter.
In court documents, police allege Houston failed to tell the authorities his father had allegedly indecently assaulted a male in 1970, despite believing his father had committed the assault, and knowing he had information that might help a prosecution.
“Believing that Frank Houston committed that offence and knowing that he had information that might be of material assistance in securing the prosecution of Frank Houston for that offence,” court documents allege that he “failed to bring that information to the attention of NSW Police”.
The period of the charge is from September 15, 1999 to November 9, 2004, the day after Frank Houston’s death.
Hills Police Area Command began investigating reports Houston had knowingly concealed information related to child sex offences in 2019.
Houston founded Hillsong in the Sydney suburbs in 1983, while his father was head of the Assemblies of God in New Zealand until 1971.
The court matter was adjourned to March 3.
Source: New Zealand Herald
Daniel Whyte III Said on August 6, 2021, It Is Time for Brian Houston to Resign So That Hillsong Church Can Go Forward: Brian Houston Has Been Charged by the Police With Allegedly Concealing His Father Frank’s Sexual Abuse of a Child After Long Investigation by Australian Police; Is This the Reason Why the Hillsong Church Is Reaping the Whirlwind Now? – “Be Not Deceived; God Is Not Mocked: for Whatsoever a Man Soweth, That Shall He Also Reap.” “For They Have Sown the Wind, and They Shall Reap the Whirlwind.”
Daniel Whyte III says that if Brian Houston was in government like Gov. Cuomo, they would ask for his resignation or they would set him up for impeachment. If he was CEO of a Fortune 500 company, they would ask him to resign immediately or they would fire him. Why not the church, when the Bible tells us in 1 Timothy 3:7, “Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”? First Timothy 3:2 says, “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach.” Titus 1:7 says, “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre.” The Holy Name of Jesus Christ and the Holy Church is far more important than any man. Jesus Christ and the Church are indispensable; the pastor or bishop is not indispensable.
The founder of the Hillsong megachurch, Brian Houston, has been charged with allegedly concealing his father’s sexual abuse of a child in the 1970s.
In a statement, the NSW Police Force confirmed detectives had served a court attendance notice on 67-year-old Houston’s lawyer in Sydney about 2pm on Thursday.
The charge against Houston – who has recently led prayer services in Monterrey, Mexico – is one of concealing a serious indictable offence.
It can carry a maximum penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment, depending upon the exact crime concealed.
The sensational development follows a years-long investigation by police in the city’s Hills District, where the global Pentecostal church first opened its doors.
‘Police will allege in court the man knew information relating to the sexual abuse of a young male in the 1970s and failed to bring that information to the attention of police,’ a statement said.
Brian Houston released a statement about the charge on Thursday night.
‘These charges have come as a shock to me given how transparent I’ve always been about this matter,’ he said.
‘I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight.’
NSW Police began investigating Brian Houston after a 2014 royal commission into child sexual abuse delved into how Hillsong’s forerunners – the Hills and Sydney Christian Life Centres – handled abuse allegations raised against Frank in 1999.
Then, Frank Houston was accused of sexually abusing a seven-year-old boy from Sydney’s east during trips from his native New Zealand three decades’ prior, in 1969 and 1970.
After learning of the allegations, Brian Houston, then the president of the evangelical organisation the Assemblies of God in Australia, confronted his father, who confessed, the royal commission’s final report said, and ended his dad’s career as a preacher.
However, the inquiry found that neither Houston nor the organisation’s national executive referred the Frank Houston sex abuse allegations to police.
Instead, the victim told the commission he met Frank Houston at a McDonald’s restaurant in Thornleigh in 2000 and was offered a dirty napkin to sign in exchange for $10,000.
The victim later called Brian Houston as he hadn’t received the promised money, and later received a $10,000 cheque in the mail, with no correspondence attached.
The victim said he felt ‘shame, fear and embarrassment’ for many years and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.
Houston Sr died in 2004, age 82, after confessing to a ‘continuing problem’ of a sexual interest in young boys. He was never charged by police.
Brian Houston told the royal commission he did not report his dad to police as the victim was 35 or 36 years of age at the time the allegations surfaced.
Brian Houston also claimed that, weeks after he became aware of the abuse, the victim had told him he did not want to go public or approach the police.
The Hillsong Church released the following statement on Thursday night.
‘We are disappointed that Pastor Brian has been charged, and ask that he be afforded the presumption of innocence and due process as is his right.
‘He has advised us that he will defend this and looks forward to clearing his name. Given that this matter is now before the court, neither Pastor Brian or Hillsong Church will be making further statements. We thank all who are a part of our church for their support and prayers at this time.’
The charge against Pastor Houston will send shockwaves through the global evangelical empire Brian and wife Bobbie have built.
The church operates in 28 different countries, has boasted of celebrity followers – formerly including Justin Bieber and jailed footballer Jarryd Hayne – and has its own record label.
More recently Hillsong has been shaken by scandals including celebrity New York pastor Carl Lentz being sensationally sacked after admitting cheating on his wife.
A married pastor in New Jersey resigned in April when DailyMail.com revealed that he had shared lewd photographs on Instagram.
The charge will also have political consequences in Australia.
In 2020, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that he had sought an invitation for Brian Houston to attend a state dinner at Donald Trump’s White House.
The NSW Police investigation into Brian Houston was public knowledge at the time.
Police sources said the decision to charge Houston came after the agency received advice from state’s Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The prosecution brief has been with the DPP for several months.
Houston will face Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on October 5. Daily Mail Australia contacted a Hillsong spokesman for comment.
Hillsong founder Brian Houston takes heed and steps down from church board as court date looms after he was charged with concealing his father’s sex offenses
Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston has stepped down from his position on the board ahead of his upcoming court case in Australia.
The Global Senior Pastor, 67, confirmed the news in an email message to Hillsong congregants on Friday, obtained by PEOPLE.
“I also wanted to let you know that I’ve made a decision to step aside from my role on the Hillsong Church boards that oversee the governance of our operations. I did this so that these boards can function to their fullest capacity during this season. This doesn’t change my role as Global Senior Pastor. I thought it was important to let our church family know in the interests of transparency, and I wanted you to hear it from me directly,” Houston wrote.
Hillsong Church provided no further comment to PEOPLE.
Houston has been accused of covering up abuse allegations against his father, late preacher Frank Houston.
PEOPLE previously confirmed Australian authorities began investigating the Hillsong founder in 2019 after receiving “reports a 67-year-old man had knowingly concealed information relating to child sexual offenses,” according to an August police statement.
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SOURCE: PEOPLE, Maria Pasquini
Should the Head of Hillsong Church Brian Houston Resign? Here Is Yet Another Hillsong Church Scandal: Married Pastor Darnell Barrett of Hillsong Church in Montclair, New Jersey, Resigns After Posting an Instagram Picture of Himself Wearing Nothing but White Nike Tights to Another Woman
Another married Hillsong East Coast pastor has left the megachurch following a sex scandal.
Darnell Barrett — the creative director of Hillsong’s Montclair, New Jersey, chapter — resigned Tuesday after allegedly sharing a revealing post-workout selfie with a church volunteer and trying to play it off as a mistake, the Daily Mail reported.
“Hey! I think I might’ve added you to my close friends list by accident. I’m so sorry. Trying to figure out how the hell to edit it,” Barrett, 32, a married father of two, texted the volunteer after purportedly sending the lewd photo of himself in front of a mirror, wearing only white Nike Pro tights. Barrett also supposedly posted two photos from the underwear selfie shoot to his “close friends” Instagram Story in February.
“Day 2 of kicking depressions tight a–,” the clergyman wrote over the image, which he also sent to a 30-year-old woman who volunteered for him from 2014 to 2016 at the Australia-based church’s New Jersey branch. The second shot was captioned “TBH: Depression and anxiety got the best of me in the last 30 hours. Barely got out of bed yesterday. I’m just proud of myself for getting to the gym today even if it was a cheap 30 minute workout. One of the insidious things about grief is it’s capricious nature. I’m learning to give myself grace in how I deal with it.”
He reportedly texted the volunteer several times to convince her she’d only received the image by accident.
“Seriously, sorry about that. I guess,” he apparently messaged the volunteer after sending the pic, which he called “some real raw s–t I send to my friends man. Lol.”
“Haha that’s alright,” responded the woman, who later sent Barrett a much harsher response before blocking him.
“To be honest, this whole ‘fishing’ scheme of yours to see if I will bite isn’t what even pisses me off. What pisses me off is knowing that I’m not the only person you’ve probably done this to,” she wrote. “I’m actually horrified by the thought of how many other innocent girls you’ve manipulated with this ploy of yours.”
“I’m sorry?” Barrett responded.
After God’s Rebuke and Chastisement of Hillsong Church for Not Doing Things God’s Way for Many Years, if Hillsong Church and Brian Houston Want to Survive, They Will Have to Do Things Biblically, Which Means They Will Have to Move Away From Their Sinful, Fleshly, and Flashy Way of Doing Things That Made Them Popular
Hillsong Church is in crisis. Australia’s greatest cultural export – with 131 churches in 30 countries, 150,000 weekly congregants, 50 million churchgoers singing their songs each week, and over three billion YouTube views – has been enveloped in a series of scandals that sound like a biblical parable: the thing that has made it so powerful is what has brought it to its knees.
I’ve spent the last few years researching Hillsong and the wider neo-charismatic Pentecostal movement, and a lot of people have been asking me what’s next. Not being in the market of prophecy, I can’t say for certain. However, Hillsong’s popularity stems from showing believers that they can live Christian lives in a secular world – and now the church’s survival depends on whether it can straddle both worlds too.
To recap the major scandals enveloping Hillsong over the last 15 months (and this is an abbreviated list) explains the cultural tightrope the church has long been walking.
In November, celebrity preacher at the church’s New York church Carl Lentz had a spectacular fall from grace, fired for “moral failings” after his infidelities were publicly revealed. Since then, he has been accused of “manipulation, control, bullying, abuse of power and sexual abuse” by a former nanny, now co-pastor of Hillsong Boston. Once its most famous member, pop star Justin Bieber now attends another church.
Financial impropriety scandals include Hillsong closing its Dallas branch after complaints about misuse of worshippers’ tithes by pastors who appeared to be living a life of luxury. There have also been complaints of abusing volunteer labour.
Finally, last month, church founder Brian Houston was charged over allegedly concealing information about child sex offences, which will see him appear in a Sydney court in October. (Houston “vehemently” professes his innocence and will defend himself against the charges.)
While these issues are for courts, and indeed parishioners, to pass judgment on, they also reveal the problems inherent in Hillsong’s business model. Its pastors have exceptional personal charisma, and draw much of their authority from it. Hillsong’s hallmark – good, well-produced music and stadium spectaculars – lends them credibility.
The church, like many of its peers, has left umbrella groups such as Assemblies of God and Australian Christian Churches. Hillsong is simply Hillsong: a brand of faith that is accountable only to itself. A figure such as Lentz, frequently photographed with celebrities such as Bieber and Kevin Durant, doesn’t work on a tight leash. Charisma can’t simply be performed: it has to be real and experienced.
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Source: the Guardian, Elle Hardy