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Brian Houston Apologizes to Hillsong for Misconduct, Still Sees God's Work Ahead: 'We Have No Intention of Retiring'

Randy Mancini 15 Apr 5

Former Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston has apologized to church members in an email sent one week after the church's global board announced his resignation for inappropriate behavior in separate incidents involving two women, including a former staff member.  

In the email obtained by the Australian news outlet Eternity News, Houston, 67, apologized to church members, and his wife Bobbie with whom he co-founded the now global megachurch in 1983. 

The former global senior pastor also admitted to using alcohol to cope with the "many years of constant pressure, opposition, challenges and attacks, accompanied by my personal turmoil over my father's evil." 

"Many people have asked – 'How do you continue to get up, cope, and keep going?' And now we know the answer. I haven't coped very well at all. I openly admit that alcohol has been no friend and I am determined to relegate it to my past," Houston wrote. 

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As CBN News reported in January, Houston stepped down from all "ministry responsibilities" at the church while dealing with legal charges that he concealed his father's child sex offenses. The New South Wales Police Force accused Houston in August of 2021 of covering up information about an incident where his father allegedly abused a boy in the 1970s.

In his email to church members, Houston also said he and Bobbie "have no intention of retiring."

"As Bobbie would say, 'the final chapters of our lives are not yet written," he wrote. 

Houston offered his apologies to the church he founded. And as it moves forward without him, he said he still believes "the best is yet to come."

"To every single wonderful person who has called Hillsong Church home, I have let you down so badly, and sorry will never be enough to express my sorrow. As hollow as it may sound, I believe I am the person and pastor you believed me to be. Imperfect and flawed, but genuinely passionate about God, people, calling, and life. I am determined that my mistakes will not define me," he wrote.

"Thank you for the immense honor of pastoring Hillsong Church these past 39 years. What a journey. What wonderful memories and joy. What powerful testimonies and stories of Christ's transformation and grace. I still believe 'the best is yet to come'… and our prayer for your health, well-being and God's perfect will in your life continues," Houston concluded. 

As CBN News reported last month, the Hillsong board said Houston resigned as global senior pastor of the church on March 23 after they found he had breached the Hillsong Pastor's Code of Conduct. 

In a letter to church members on March 18, Hillsong's global board described the complaints made against Houston and apologized to the women.  

"We have sadly been dealing with two complaints made against Pastor Brian over the last 10 years," the board said in the letter that was also posted to the church's website. 

"We apologize unreservedly to the people affected by Pastor Brian's actions and commit to being available for any further assistance we can provide," the board continued.  

The Hillsong board said the first incident was approximately 10 years ago and involved Houston sending "inappropriate text messages" to a staff member, who later resigned. The board explained Houston was "under the influence of sleeping tablets and had developed a dependence" on them. He apologized to the person and the board worked with him to get "professional help to eliminate his dependency on this medication, and this was achieved successfully."

The second incident detailed by the board was a complaint the church received in 2019. The board said Houston "became disoriented after a session at the Hillsong Conference, following the consumption of anti-anxiety medication beyond the prescribed dose, mixed with alcohol. This resulted in him knocking on the door of a hotel room that was not his, entering this room, and spending time with the female occupant."

"The truth is we don't know what happened next. The woman has not said there was any sexual activity. Brian has said there was no sexual activity but he was in the room for 40 minutes," interim Global Senior Pastor Phil Dooley told global staff members during a video conference, according to Australian Broadcasting

"The investigation by the integrity unit appointed by the global board found that although all parts of the complaint were unable to be sustained, important elements of the complaint were sustained and the conduct was of serious concern," the board said.

In February of 2022, Hillsong reported 150,000 members in 30 countries. But as CBN News has reported, since Houston's reported resignation, nine U.S.-based Hillsong churches have apparently left the global organization in just the past two weeks as the movement shrinks dramatically.

Late last month, Hillsong Phoenix Lead Pastor Terry Crist announced he was the latest to withdraw his Arizona church from the oversight of the governing board of the global Hillsong Church.