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Famed Pastor Resigns From Megachurch Amid ‘Inappropriate’ Behavior

Hillsong Church became an internationally known megachurch after capturing the support and attendance of big time celebrities like Justin and Hailey Bieber, Selena Gomez and Chris Pratt.

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The church has, however, found itself in the wake of many scandals and accusations, and the latest news is no exception.

Hillsong announced this week that its founder, Brian Houston, has resigned from the church amid allegations of “inappropriate behavior” towards two women.

Phil Dooley, the acting senior pastor of Hillsong, announced the news Wednesday morning in a staff meeting, per The Daily Mail.

“We would like to advise you that Pastor Brian Houston has resigned as global senior pastor of Hillsong Church and the board has accepted his resignation,” Hillsong said in a statement. “We understand there will be much emotion at this news and we all share these feelings. We ask that you continue to pray for them and the entire Houston family during this challenging time.”

The church first acknowledged the accusations and impending resignation on March 18, stating that since the allegations had been made public, the church felt it was its duty to speak out and ahead on what was to come.

“We have sadly been dealing with two complaints made against Pastor Brian over the last 10 years. These matters – like all such matters under our code of conduct – were dealt with confidentially. In both of these cases we respected the confidentiality of both Pastor Brian and those involved, and we also must abide by local employment law,” Hillsong said last week. “We are a church that believes in grace, love, restoration and integrity; these are our guiding values.”

The church went on to explain that the first accusation came from a decade ago and involved Houston sending “inappropriate text messages” to a staff member which led to their resignation. The church claims that at the time, Houston was addicted to sleeping tablets and worked with him to receive “professional help.”

Related: Joel Osteen’s Church Received More Than $4 Million In PPP Loans

The second incident occurred in 2019 while Houston was under the influence of alcohol and anti-anxiety medication, the church said, wherein Houston ended up entering a hotel room that was not his and spending the night with an undisclosed female, wherein the “conduct was of serious concern.”

Houston agreed to step down from his position temporarily but after failing to “take all of agreed steps,” he was removed from the Hillsong board in 2021.

“Like many other churches of its size, Hillsong’s governance model has historically placed significant control in the hands of the senior pastor, but we recognize that the way we do things needs to be reviewed,” the church shared. “We know there are areas on which we can improve, and we will work honestly and transparently to that end.”

Hillsong maintains that “there is still much to be done” in the wake of Houston’s removal and that the church does “acknowledge that change is needed” moving forward.

The church faced another major scandal in late 2021 when famed pastor Carl Lentz (who had been brought into mainstream media via his close friendship with Justin Bieber) was released from the church due to “moral failures.”

The day after he was fired, Lentz took to social media to announce that he had been unfaithful in his marriage, leading to his mistress coming forward before checking into an outpatient treatment program for mental-health-related issues.

A former Hillsong staff member (who also served as a nanny to Lentz’s children) accused Lentz of sexual abuse last summer.

A legal representative for Lentz and wife Laura told NBC at the time that the couple “vehemently deny the allegations and, in addition to that, have irrefutable proof the events did not happen as they are being described.”

Hillsong was founded by Houston and his wife, Bobbie, in 1983 in Australia and now oversees churches in 30 different countries.

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