Hillsong Church founder and pastor Brian Houston, who is facing criminal charges, announced this week that he would step down from his role on various church boards.
Houston was charged last month with concealing child sex offenses from an alleged incident that took place in the 1970s. He is set to appear in court in October. Houston has stated that he was “shocked” by the charges and is innocent.
In an email to the church, Houston said he would be stepping down from his role in order to allow the church boards to “function to their fullest capacity.”
“I’ve made a decision to step aside from my role on the Hillsong Church boards that oversee the governance of our operations,” Houston wrote. “I did this so that these boards can function to their fullest capacity during this season. This doesn’t change my role as Global Senior Pastor. I thought it was important to let our church family know in the interests of transparency, and I wanted you to hear it from me directly.”
“I am still full of vision and know that there is an exciting season ahead for our church,” he added.
At next month’s trial, police will question Houston on his knowledge of sexual abuse of a young male and whether he “failed to bring that information to the attention of police.” Houston has stated he believes these charges may be related to allegations his father, Frank Houston, abused a boy in the 1970s.
Frank Houston was accused of abusing numerous boys during his time as a preacher. He eventually confessed to the allegations in 1999, which led the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse discover that Brian Houston failed to report his knowledge of the abuse.
Hillsong Church addressed the allegations in a statement earlier this year, saying Houston learned what his father did when he was 45 years old, and acknowledging other pastors knew what had happened earlier.
After the charges were announced in August, Houston released a statement, saying, “I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight” at the trial. Hillsong Church also released a statement saying Houston “has advised us that he will defend this and looks forward to clearing his name.”