Crenshaw told RNS she believes there is a cultural tendency at Hillsong “to value those ‘higher up’ or more connected.”
“Unfortunately, due to the close-knit relationships and lack of institutional accountability it may never be dealt with,” Crenshaw said. But, she added, “It is never too late to do better.”
When asked about Crenshaw, a Hillsong representative pointed to a March statement from Hillsong regarding the matter, which reads in part: “Hillsong Church vehemently denies any allegation of a culture that tolerates abuse. We take every complaint seriously and regularly demonstrate our commitment to updating our policies and procedures.”
In a statement about Leona Kimes’ allegations, provided to RNS on Friday and now live on their website, the Houstons said that “hearing Leona Kimes’ experience was very disturbing” and that they “commend her for her courage and have assured her of our utmost compassion in their (family’s) journey forward.”
“As a local church within the greater Body of Christ, we welcome this opportunity to grow in what is an increasing societal problem,” according to the Houstons’ statement.
Kimes said she has been “met with compassion, particularly by Brian and Bobbie Houston,” since she came forward, and Brian Houston said her experience “will be central to our processes.”
Kimes told RNS there has not been an expectation for her to be involved in developing those processes, but she has been “welcomed to give my input if I choose.”
Hillsong has had other fires to address elsewhere.
In January, Reed and Jess Bogard, lead pastors of the Dallas location, abruptly resigned during a Sunday morning service. Houston later said the couple, who had served in New York with Lentz, “failed to meet the commitments and standards of Hillsong Church,” and the Dallas location has been shuttered for the foreseeable future.
In April, Darnell Barrett, a pastor for the Montclair, New Jersey, Hillsong campus, resigned after sharing revealing photos of himself on Instagram stories to a group of friends that included a woman who once volunteered for him at the New Jersey church.
Denhollander hopes Hillsong will reopen an independent investigation — one that includes a waiver of attorney-client privilege and that will culminate in a public report to ensure accountability and transparency.
If an organization’s policies are not aimed at giving employees clear opportunities to report potential abuse, Denhollander said, “you run a very high likelihood of other predators in that organization that you may not be aware of.” When a system is less than transparent, she added, there is a very strong likelihood other unhealthy dynamics will come into play.
For her part, Kimes said she is not going anywhere. “Even with all I’ve been through, I still love it. Hillsong is my church, and I will remain on staff, working toward a stronger future.”
This is a breaking story and may be updated.
This article originally appeared here.