Hillsong founder Brian Houston announced that he will be stepping down from his role as the megachurch’s global senior pastor so he can fight charges that he concealed sexual abuse crimes committed by his father.
Last August, New South Wales Police charged Houston with concealing crimes committed by his late father, Frank Houston. Frank was accused of sexually abusing a young male in the 1970s. Houston denies the charges, but still, in September, he stepped down from his roles on various Hillsong church boards while remaining global senior pastor.
On Sunday, however, one month after Hillsong’s external legal counsel suggested that Houston step down from all church leadership to deal with his legal proceedings, Houston announced that he would be stepping away from his global senior pastor role. Houston’s legal battle is expected to take up most of 2022.
“As I have said, most of you know the court case I am facing is related to circumstances surrounding my father, and I need to be fully committed to preparation and engagement with the case and work closely with my lawyers in defending this charge,” Houston said in a statement posted on the church’s website.
“I have said, including in a prior statement, that I intend to fight the charge and welcome the opportunity to set the record straight,” he added.
Taking Houston’s place as Hillsong’s acting global senior pastor will be Pastors Phil and Lucinda Dooley, who currently led Hillsong Church in South Africa.
“The Dooleys are well-loved by many in our church, having successfully served as our youth pastors in Australia for many years,” Houston explained. “Over the last 13 years, they, with their family, have resided in South Africa and have raised up a phenomenal multi-campus Hillsong Church.”
Houston added that his wife Bobbi will continue to be “fully engaged in church life” despite his decision to step back.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Ehrlif
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.