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Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston resigns after allegations over conduct with women

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 3/23/2022 Asha C. Gilbert, USA TODAY
Brian Houston, founder of the Sydney-based global Hillsong Church, is stepping down from leadership at the Australia megachurch. Houston is charged with concealing sex offenses against a child. © Mick Tsikas Brian Houston, founder of the Sydney-based global Hillsong Church, is stepping down from leadership at the Australia megachurch. Houston is charged with concealing sex offenses against a child.

Hillsong Church co-founder Brian Houston has agreed to resign from his position as global senior pastor amid complaints of inappropriate conduct with two women. 

According to a statement from the church's board on Friday, the two complaints stem from incidents within the last 10 years. The board was aware of the allegations when Houston stepped down in January to focus on fighting the charge of concealing child sex abuse.

"These issues are now public, and therefore we would like to share with you the details," the statement said. 

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The first incident involved inappropriate text messages to a member of the staff from Houston "approximately a decade ago." The staff member resigned after the incident and the board said he was under the influence of sleeping tablets on which he was dependent.

"He immediately apologized to the person. We also worked closely with Pastor Brian to ensure he received professional help to eliminate his dependency on this medication, and this was achieved successfully," the statement said. 

'Set the record straight': Hillsong megachurch founder Brian Houston charged with concealing child sex offenses

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Video: Hillsong Church Founder Brian Houston Resigns Amid Allegations of Inappropriate Behavior Toward 2 Women (E! News)

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The pastor received a second complaint in 2019 after becoming disoriented after a session at the Hillsong Conference. According to the board, Houston consumed anti-anxiety medicine and alcohol, then knocked on hotel room door and spent time with a female occupant. 

After an investigation of both incidents, the board found Houston was found in violation of the Hillsong Pastor's Code of Conduct. 

"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 said.

On Wednesday, the board announced it had accepted Houston's resignation.

"We understand there will be much emotion at this news, and we all share these feelings," the announcement said. 

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Houston and his wife, Bobbie, founded Hillsong Church in Australia in 1983. For nearly four decades, the church has grown to include celebrity attendees at locations in 30 countries.

The church has been through a number of controversies in recent years, including the termination of pastor Carl Lentz in 2020 and Houston being accused of knowing that his pastor father, Frank, allegedly abused a boy in the 1970s but did not come forward. 

Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: agilbert@usatoday.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston resigns after allegations over conduct with women

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