Hillsong founder Brian Houston announced today he would immediately step down as church leader. He shared the decision with a Hillsong congregation. Houston said he needed to prepare to defend a criminal charge for allegedly covering up his father’s child sexual abuse.
Last year, Houston stepped aside as director of all Hillsong boards.
Police charged Houston in October with one count of concealing the serious indictable offence of another person. They allege he knew from September 1999 that his father indecently assaulted a male in 1970.
Houston told a Hillsong congregation today that the criminal charge came as a ‘complete shock’.
(However surprising Houston found the charge, others anticipated it for years. It shocked many that it took so long to action complaints about the matter.)
Houston said he intends to vigorously defend the charge but that required changes.
“In December during our annual board retreat, Hillsong’s external legal counsel gave the board advice regarding the current charge I’m facing and that it would be best practice for me to step aside completely from church leadership during the court proceedings.
“So it’s likely to be drawn out and take up most of 2022, especially considering the backlog in courts exacerbated by the Covid pandemic. And along with this the board and I have been having detailed discussions around requirements for leadership and we’ve talked about the effects of the situation with my father, going back many years up to the current legal case, and the impact that this has had on me emotionally.
“So the result is Hillsong’s global board feel it’s in my and the church’s best interest for this to happen, so I’ve agreed to step aside from all ministry responsibilities until the end of the year.”
Houston said he would need to work closely with his lawyers to defend the charge and ‘set the record straight’.
Houston’s court matter encountered a delay earlier this week after his lawyers told a court he would plead not guilty. The court currently plans to proceed with the case on March 3.