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Hillsong Phoenix
Pastor Terry Crist.png
Hillsong Phoenix
USA News

Hillsong pastor calls for investigation into global leaders and announces formal separation from megachurch

by Kelly Valencia

A Hillsong pastor in the US city of Phoenix has called for an investigation of the global board of the church. 

It follows the resignation of founder Brian Houston as global senior pastor after an internal investigation found he had acted inappropriately against two women. 

Addressing congregants during his Sunday sermon, lead Pastor Terry Crist also said the church could not continue to be a part of the global network and announced he has officially asked to separate from it. 

"There are many reasons why we can't continue; chief among them is our loss of confidence in the global board to continue leading us as a congregation."  

In 2016, Pastor Terry's church, previously known as City of Grace, decided to officially become part of Hillsong Church after being part of their network for several years. 

Explaining the decision to leave Hillsong global church, Pastor Terry said he had been having issues with the accountability and transparency of the board since Pastor Carl lentz was found to have been unfaithful to his wife and was consequently sacked from leading Hillsong NYC. 

He said he encouraged the publication of the results of the investigation into sexual misconduct, but his request was "for whatever reason, denied."

"As information began to leak out as to what was in the report, and as the global board made the decision to increase financial controls within the churches, lead pastors were suddenly asked to sign NDAs and non-competes. Some of us couldn't do that in good conscience," Pastor Terry continued. 

According to Pastor Terry, the demand for leaders to sign non-disclosure agreements and non-competes "came down" again during recent weeks, meaning that if leaders "were removed from our positions, we could not plant churches again within our community for at least one year."

Concerned on the governance and transparency issues, Pastor Terry requested the church to go back to being part of the Hillsong network, which meant having local governance, to include "a couple of non-Hillsong pastors to also be seeded in the church" and to continue to operate under the Hillsong Phoenix banner but that request was denied. 

"I was told this week, it is 'all or nothing.' We either had to allow the global church to govern our church and to own our properties, or we had to leave. And so with great sadness, I chose to leave," Pastor Terry continued. "I am heartbroken."

He also called for the global board to be investigated, and for the punishment of members who have done more to protect the institution than the people.

"It's in the best interest of Hillsong Church to conduct an investigation as it relates to board conduct, to immediately restore the Sydney eldership, to make the findings of that public and to dismiss the board members who have protected the institution and not the people," he said.

Pastor Terry concluded his sermon by apologising for the times he put the protection of the Hillsong Church brand above the well-being of people and committed to do "a lot of soul work in this season".

Hillsong Phoenix will finalise the legal transfer of the church, will seat a transition board and will decide on a new name for the church in the coming weeks.  

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