On Wednesday (Nov. 2), former Hillsong Church global senior pastor Brian Houston released a video statement addressing the circumstances of his departure from the Australian-based international megachurch, seeking to clear his name of what he described as “gossip” and “innuendo.”
In March, Houston announced his resignation from Hillsong Church amid ongoing scandal, just two months after he had been asked to step back from all pastoral leadership for the entirety of 2022. Previous to his hiatus from the pulpit, he had also been asked to step down from all of Hillsong’s global leadership boards.
At the time, Houston stated that the reason for these sabbaticals was to allow him to focus on defending himself against criminal charges alleging that he had covered up clergy sex abuse perpetrated by his late father, Frank Houston.
Roughly a week prior to Houston’s resignation, the Hillsong Board revealed that his time away was also the result of disciplinary action relating to moral indiscretions that had recently become public via media reports. These indiscretions included Houston acting inappropriately toward women in two separate instances, as well as abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs.
In April, Bobbie Houston, who had served as Brian’s co-pastor and led Hillsong’s annual women’s Colour Conference and Colour Sisterhood, an advocacy ministry for vulnerable and marginalized people, was told that her role had been “made redundant” and she would no longer be serving in those capacities.
Houston’s statement on Wednesday was simulcast across his social media channels.
“I actually thought it was time, almost eight months since my abrupt resignation from Hillsong Church, to bring some clarification from our perspective to the events surrounding my resignation and much of the current narrative,” Houston said.
Houston went on to describe his decision to resign from Hillsong as “the hardest decision” of his life. Houston founded the church in 1983, serving as its senior pastor for 39 years.
“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,” Houston said, “but that was not to be.”
“We’ve been through utter grief this year, as we’ve come to grips with all that has happened and the overwhelming sense of loss and so much—and so many we have loved and given our whole life to have been ripped away from us,” Houston continued. “We would have loved the opportunity to have said a proper goodbye to the Hillsong congregation, but, sadly, to date that opportunity has not been afforded to us.”
After expressing his love for the Hillsong congregation, Houston addressed what he believes are mischaracterizations of the circumstances surrounding his resignation. Describing his departure from the church as “a progression,” Houston alleged that he was slowly “squeezed out” by the Board through successive requirements that he step back from more and more of his leadership responsibilities.
“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,” Houston said. “I didn’t resign because of my mistakes. I resigned because of the announcements and statements that have 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.”