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World News

Hillsong Dallas shut down following leadership scandal

by Marcus Jones

Brian Houston, the global leader of the Hillsong network of churches, has confirmed that he is "pausing" operations at its branch in Dallas, Texas, following controversy linked to past leaders.

Pastor Reed Bogard and his wife, Jess Bogard stepped down in January after accusations were made that they were using church money to fund a lavish lifestyle.

In an email to members of the Dallas Church this week, Houston said: "It was very disappointing to learn that, while some of you experienced the Bogards as dedicated pastors, many others have experienced leadership that failed to meet the commitments and standards of Hillsong Church.

"I want to be the first to apologise to those who felt disappointed or hurt, and I pray that God does a swift work in bringing peace and healing."

It's understood an investigation into the behaviour of the leaders has been carried out in recent months.

Houston said a number of factors, especially the pandemic, had led to them shutting down the church but said he was open to the idea of relaunching at a suitable time.

"We still have a huge heart and vision for the great state of Texas. When the time is right and we have identified and trained suitable lead pastors, we will consider relaunching."

The development comes as Hillsong deals with another crisis at its New York branch.

Last year, leader Carl Lentz was removed from post after it emerged he'd had an affar. A legal team were then brought in to investigate claims that church funds had been misused.

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