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Brian Houston Addresses 'Notorious Night', Takes Aim at Hillsong Board for Allowing 'People's Imagination to Run Wild'

Brian Houston preaches at Christian Faith Center in Seattle, Washington on Aug. 22. (Screenshot credit: Christian Faith Center/YouTube)

Former Hillsong Church founder and senior global pastor Brian Houston says he resigned from the global church last spring because the Hillsong Church board's public statements "made his position untenable."

Houston, 68, made the claim in a video posted to Facebook on Nov. 2 in which he wrote he wanted to "clarify the circumstances around my resignation.

He said when he offered to resign from his position in March, he hoped the board would reject his resignation and continue to fight for him. 

"I guess a big part of me hoped that the board, knowing the pressure I was under, would reject my offer and continue to fight for me, but that was not to be," Houston continued. "We certainly did not want to just abandon the Hillsong congregation, as some have suggested. We adore the people of Hillsong Church, and to be honest, we miss you all terribly."

"We would have loved the opportunity to have said a proper goodbye to the Hillsong congregation," he said. "But sadly to date, that opportunity has not been afforded to us." 

Houston then went on to say the reason cited for his resignation from the global church is not true. 

"I want to be clear. The media and others incorrectly say I resigned because I breached the Hillsong code of conduct, but that's just not true," he said. "I didn't resign because of my mistakes. I resigned because of the announcements and statements that had been made, which Bobbie and I felt made my position untenable. And I spelled out my reasons for my resignation in my resignation letter to the Hillsong Church board."

Houston also shared excerpts from his resignation letter to the board that he said made it clear that the public statements made by the board left him in a position that would be difficult to keep leading the church. 

He explained that he did not see the board's March 18 statement until after it was made public and sent to Hillsong's global database. 

"The board's statement to the church has made my position untenable," Houston's resignation letter said. "The board gave enough detail to allow people's imagination to run wild and draw their own conclusions. The statement did nothing to add my perspective. The statements that are being made have left me with no choice but to end our time as pastors and leaders of Hillsong Church."

Houston said he told the board that even though he was resigning from the church, he was not quitting ministry work. 

"'Thank you for the opportunity. It has been an honor and I can truthfully say, Hillsong Church is our life's work. I have no intention of retiring. And in the future, we'll still be in ministry, whatever that looks like. Wherever that is," the letter said. "My hope is that we could have an active role as founding pastor of our church."

"That's what I wrote to the board and that's the resignation the board was quick to accept. Sadly, in the statements and announcements made, there was enough detail to pour ultimate shame and humiliation on me, but enough ambiguity to lead people to make their own conclusions about what did or didn't happen. Frankly, in many cases, those conclusions are wrong," Houston continued. 

The former global pastor also said the narrative about him being an alcoholic is false. 

"In my heartfelt apology to the people of Hillsong Church and to the Church at large, I spoke about alcohol having not proven itself to be my friend. But sadly that has built a narrative out there that I'm an alcoholic," Houston said. "The stories about my 'alcoholism' are the result of gossip, whispering and innuendo. The narrative that I'm an alcoholic is false. In fact, I've been told by an expert therapist that I do not display the behaviors that are typical of an alcoholic."

He also addressed his use of sleeping tablets, saying he hasn't used any such tablet in more than a decade. 

"It was in the early 2000s with my constant global travel and the stress that I was under, I became dependent on sleeping tablets which I have spoken about openly many times including in my book, Live, Love, Lead," Houston said. "But let me be clear, the last time I took a single sleeping tablet was over ten years ago. And even though I've continued to travel widely I haven't taken one sleeping tablet for a decade. It's not an ongoing problem."

"The notorious night in 2019 where I mixed a double dose of anti-anxiety tablets with alcohol was a one-off occasion. It happened once. It hadn't happened before and it hasn't happened since," he explained. "So I don't have an ongoing problem with anti-anxiety tablets or any other prescription medication. I respectfully ask you to please not label me that way or blindly accept that narrative."

As CBN News reported, Houston stepped down from all of the governing boards of the Sydney, Australia-based Hillsong Church after he was charged by the New South Wales Police Force for allegedly covering up information about his father's child sexual abuse offenses. 

He remained as the church's global senior pastor. Later, Houston announced that he would "step aside from all ministry responsibilities" until next year amid charges of concealing his father's offenses.

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CBN's Faithwire previously reported that Houston's father, Frank, was accused of abusing nine underage boys while he was serving as a pastor. The elder Houston passed away in 2004. 

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse concluded the Hillsong founder failed to report his father's abuse after he confessed to it in 1999.

Houston entered a not-guilty plea to the charges in an Australian court in October, according to The New York Times

The special hearing of Houston's case will take place in December and will last three weeks.  

"These charges have come as a shock to me given how transparent I've always been about this matter," Houston said. "I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight."

Then, as CBN News reported in March, Houston resigned as global senior pastor of Hillsong after the church announced he had breached the "Hillsong Pastor's Code of Conduct" involving separate incidents with two women, including a former staff member, in the last 10 years. 

Houston and his wife Bobbie founded Hillsong Church near Sydney in 1983. In February 2022, the megachurch reported 150,000 members in 30 countries. 

He later apologized to church members in an email sent one week after the church's global board announced his resignation. 

In the email obtained by the Australian news outlet Eternity News, Houston also said he and Bobbie "have no intention of retiring."

"I still have a sense of bright hope for the future and I know God is not finished with me yet. We have no intention of retiring. As Bobbie would say, 'the final chapters of our lives are not yet written'," he wrote. 

Houston returned to the pulpit during a six-week tour in the U.S. He delivered the message A Legacy That Outlasts You at the Christian Faith Center on Aug. 21, insisting that God doesn't write people off and that he still has "so much more" to give.

As CBN News reported, Houston and his wife Bobbie will host and speak at the Pioneer Theatre in Sydney, Australia's Castle Hill on Nov. 9.

"It's just all about connection, fellowship, community," Houston said. "And, of course, Bobbie will share some thoughts. As always, I'm sure there will be a prophetic energy to that. I'm gonna preach a message, pray for people."

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