Less than a week after the Hillsong Church's global board announced that its founder Brian Houston had breached the "Hillsong Pastor's Code of Conduct" involving separate incidents with two women, including a staff member, the board on Wednesday announced Houston has resigned as global senior pastor of the church and they have accepted his resignation.
In an announcement to members posted on the church's website, the church's global and Australian boards wrote: "We understand there will be much emotion at this news, and we all share these feelings. Irrespective of the circumstances around this, we can all agree that Brian and Bobbie have served God faithfully over many decades and that their ministry has resulted in millions of people across the world being impacted by the power, grace, and love of Jesus Christ."
"Hillsong Church was birthed out of Brian and Bobbie's obedience and commitment to the call of God and we are extremely grateful for all that Brian and Bobbie have given to build His house. We ask that you continue to pray for them, and the entire Houston family, during this challenging time," the board continued.
Houston, 67, and his wife Bobbie founded Hillsong Church near Sydney, Australia in 1983. In February of 2022, the megachurch reported 150,000 members in 30 countries.
And the Hillsong music ministry has produced some of the most significant modern worship songs used in evangelical churches around the world, including "Oceans," "What a Beautiful Name," and "Shout to the Lord."
In a letter to church members on March 18, Hillsong's global board described the complaints made against Houston and apologized to the women.
The Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) reported the board sent the letter to the congregation after interim Global Senior Pastor Phil Dooley met with 800 global staff members in a video conference to discuss Houston's "indiscretions."
"We have sadly been dealing with two complaints made against Pastor Brian over the last 10 years," the board said in the letter that was also posted to the church's website.
"We apologize unreservedly to the people affected by Pastor Brian's actions and commit to being available for any further assistance we can provide," the board continued.
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The Hillsong board said the first incident was approximately 10 years ago and involved Houston sending "inappropriate text messages" to a staff member, who later resigned. The board explained Houston was "under the influence of sleeping tablets and had developed a dependence" on them. He apologized to the person and the board worked with him to get "professional help to eliminate his dependency on this medication, and this was achieved successfully."
"To this former staff member, we again apologize and would welcome the opportunity to provide further assistance if this is needed," the letter said.
The second incident detailed by the board was a complaint the church received in 2019. The board said Houston "became disoriented after a session at the Hillsong Conference, following the consumption of anti-anxiety medication beyond the prescribed dose, mixed with alcohol. This resulted in him knocking on the door of a hotel room that was not his, entering this room and spending time with the female occupant."
"The truth is we don't know what happened next. The woman has not said there was any sexual activity. Brian has said there was no sexual activity but he was in the room for 40 minutes," Dooley told the global staff members during the video conference, according to Australian Broadcasting.
"The investigation by the integrity unit appointed by the global board found that although all parts of the complaint were unable to be sustained, important elements of the complaint were sustained and the conduct was of serious concern," the board said.
The board also told church members Houston had agreed to "take specific action including stepping down from leadership for a period. However unfortunately he failed to take all of the agreed steps which resulted in further action being taken by the board in late 2021."
As CBN News reported in January, Houston, 67, stepped down from all "ministry responsibilities" until next year as he deals with legal charges that he concealed his father's child sex offenses.
The New South Wales Police Force accused Houston in August of 2021 of covering up information about an incident where his father allegedly abused a boy in the 1970s.
At the time of Houston's announcement, the church board said it did not make a public statement due to privacy issues.
According to ABC, Dooley told staffers during the video conference, "We're deeply sorry for those victims and for what they've had to go through and what they've had to endure."
"We acknowledge Pastor Brian has made significant mistakes ... we also do want to pray for Pastor Brian and for Bobbie (his wife) and the family because there is a lot of pain associated with this," he said.
The Hillsong board also explained it has been reviewing how the global church is governed and ways it can be more accountable.
"Like many other churches of its size, Hillsong's governance model has historically placed significant control in the hands of the senior pastor, but we recognize that the way we do things needs to be reviewed," the board said.
CBN News has reached out to the Hillsong Church for comment. We'll post their response here as soon as we receive it.
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