The founding pastor of Hillsong Church, Brian Houston, has publicly addressed some of the accusations made against him in the last few months. It’s the first time he’s opened up about the situation since stepping down as leading pastor.
In a video address live-streamed simultaneously on all his social media platforms, Houston said he wanted to “bring some perspective around the story surrounding his resignation”.
In March, the 68-year-old came under fire after an internal investigation found he had behaved inappropriately towards two women in two separate instances.
On one of the occasions, Houston was found to have sent inappropriate texts to a woman, while on the other, he was accused of entering a hotel room of a female while being under the effects of alcohol and anti-anxiety medication.
A few days after his breach of conduct rules was revealed by the church, Houston resigned as Hillsong’s lead pastor. But Houston now says he didn’t step down because of “his mistakes”.
“That's just not true,” he said. “I resigned because of the announcements and statements that have been made, which Bobby [his wife] and I felt made my position untenable.”
“Sadly, in the statements and announcements made, there was enough detailed report, ultimate shame and humiliation, but enough ambiguity to leave people to make their own conclusions about what did or didn't happen. Frankly, in many cases, those conclusions are wrong,” he continued.
Houston labeled reports of him being an alcoholic as “false” and stressed he does not have an “ongoing problem with anti-anxiety tablets or any other prescription medication”. For him, the church's statement was not a "fair" representation of his relationship with alcohol.
“I spoke about alcohol as having not proved itself to be my friend. But sadly, that has built a narrative out there that I'm an alcoholic and have stories about my alcoholism that are the result of gossip, whispering and innuendo. The narrative that I'm an alcoholic is false.”
“I respectfully ask you to please not label me that way or blindly accept that narrative,” he pleaded.
At the time of his resignation, Houston was already under a lot of scrutiny following various scandals hitting Hillsong pastors, as well as his ongoing legal battle regarding his father’s sexual abuse of children. Before resigning altogether from his role, he had stepped aside from the church’s global board to focus on preparing his defence.
"Over 12 months ago, I was charged with a crime that I'm yet to defend, and I will fight," he said on his video. His three-week trial will begin on 2nd December and will run until the 22nd. Australian authorities allege the Hillsong founder failed to report Frank Houston’s sexual abuse of nine boys perpetrated between 1965 and 1977. Houston denies any wrongdoing.
The video was streamed for those unable to attend some of the gatherings Houston and his wife are hosting in Sydney this week.
He concluded by saying: “All of us have fallen, fall short of the glory of God. You and I have fallen but because of Jesus, that's not the label you were and I refuse to carry those labels any more than anyone else.
"I'm flawed. I've been humbled, but I'm not moving forward. And I'm not living disgraced. I'm living as a child of God with my head held high, chosen, called graced and with a God given future, and hope.”
“So thank you to all those around the world are showing Bobby and I nothing but love and grace. And thank you to our family, for your love and your unconditional support.
“So many people have opinions about what I should or shouldn't be doing in the season. That's human nature. But I want you to know we are submitted to mature and seasoned spiritual leaders who have been a blessing to us in this season, and if their counsel their advice, that I'm following. So God bless you, much love and as someone once said: the best is yet to come.”