Facing criminal charges, Hillsong Church founder and pastor Brian Houston said this week he is stepping down from his role on various church boards in order to allow them to "function to their fullest capacity."
Houston, the senior pastor of the Australia-based congregation, was charged by police last month with concealing child sex offenses and is set to appear in court in October. The incident allegedly took place during the 1970s. Houston said he was "shocked" by the charges and is innocent.
Houston, in an email, revealed he is stepping down from the church's boards. The Roys Report posted a copy.
"I ... 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," Houston wrote. "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 added that he is "still full of vision and know[s] that there is an exciting season ahead for our church."
Police said in August they will "allege in court" that Houston "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."
Houston, 67, said he believed the charges may be related to allegations that his father abused a boy in the 1970s.
"We ask that he be afforded the presumption of innocence and due process as is his right," the church said in an August statement. "He has advised us that he will defend this and looks forward to clearing his name. We thank all who are a part of our church for their support and prayers at this time."
Photo courtesy: ©Brian Houston Facebook
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.