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Hillsong Church founder at abuse inquiry

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/03/2017 Megan Neil
Hillsong Church Pastor Brian Houston © AAP Image/Paul Miller Hillsong Church Pastor Brian Houston

The founder of the global Hillsong Church will face a royal commission that found he failed to tell police his father was a child sex abuser.

Hillsong's popular senior pastor Brian Houston will on Friday appear before the child sex abuse royal commission for a second time, as will the head of Australia's largest Pentecostal movement, Australian Christian Churches national president Wayne Alcorn.

The commission found Mr Houston and the national executives of the Assemblies of God in Australia - as the Australian Christian Churches was known until 2007 - failed to tell police about child abuse allegations against his father Frank Houston.

The commission said Mr Houston had a conflict of interest in assuming responsibility for dealing with AHA's allegation because he was both the national president of the Assemblies of God in Australia and the son of the alleged perpetrator.

The abuse began when the boy was seven and the Assemblies of God in New Zealand leader was visiting Australia to preach in 1969 and 1970.

When confronted by his son, Frank Houston admitted sexually abusing AHA on one occasion and never preached again.

The national executive allowed him to publicly resign, without damage to his reputation or that of Hillsong Church, the royal commission said.

After the organisation learned of allegations that Frank Houston had abused six boys in New Zealand three decades earlier, Assemblies of God ministers were told in late 2000 that he had admitted to a "serious moral failure" and Brian Houston had suspended his father's credentials.

Hillsong Church has said the abuse occurred many years before its establishment and Brian Houston took immediate action to expose and stop a child abuser.

The Sydney Christian Life Centre founded by Frank Houston and Hills Christian Life Centre founded by his son merged in 2000 and were renamed Hillsong Church the following year.

Frank Houston died in 2004.

The Australian Christian Churches, which represents 1070 affiliated Pentecostal churches, has said it has actively addressed many of the points that emerged during the 2014 public hearing.

The royal commission also criticised the handling of child abuse allegations by affiliates the Northside Christian Centre (now Encompass Church) and college in Victoria and the Sunshine Coast Church.

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