Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston announced that he is stepping down from the ministry this year as he defends his case about concealing his father's abuse.
Shared by The Christian Post, Houston released the statement last Sunday on the church's website.
"In December, during our board meeting, Hillsong's external legal counsel gave the board advice regarding the current charge I am facing - that it would be 'Best Practice' for me to step aside completely from church leadership during the court proceedings," the pastor explained.
"The court processes are likely to be drawn out and take up most of 2022 (especially considering the backlog in the courts, exacerbated by the Covid pandemic). Along with this, the board and I have had detailed discussion around the requirements for leadership. We have talked about the effects of the situation with my father, which go back many years up to the current legal case, and the impact this has had on me emotionally," he continued.
"The result is that the Hillsong Global Board feel it is in my and the church's best interest for this to happen, so I have agreed to step aside from all ministry responsibilities until the end of the year," he concluded.
Houston went on to say that he needs to be "fully committed" in preparing and working with his lawyers to defend the charge, which he intends to fight "to set the record straight."
Further, though his wife, Bobbie, will remain engaged with the church's activities, Houston revealed that Pastors Phil and Lucinda Dooley will be the acting global senior pastors during his absence.
In August 2021, the New South Wales police charged Houston for allegedly keeping the information about his father's assault of a young man in the 1970s and failing to bring it up to the authorities.
The minister, however, denied the accusation and claimed his innocence. He said that he was shocked with the allegation, contending his transparency on the matter.
The following month, Houston stepped down from the church's boards. He also resigned as Hillsong's director and was removed from 18 of Hillsong's 19 charities.
According to People, the Hillsong leaders were alerted about the allegation in 1999 but did not inform the police and allowed Houston's father, Frank, to retire instead. Frank reportedly confessed to the abuse before his death in 2004.
In April 2021, Houston was heavily criticized for his social media post about Anna Crenshaw, a former Hillsong College student who was assaulted by a Hillsong church member.
In the tweet, the pastor revealed Crenshaw's private history but deleted the post after four days and apologized.
However, Crenshaw lamented that Houston's tweet was just an attempt to use her past trauma to shift the accountability from Hillsong Church. She pointed out that instead of protecting her, the church opted to protect her abuser.
Ed Crenshaw, Anna's father, was outraged with Houston's response, saying that Houston's tweet was an indication of mishandling his daughter. He proceeded to advise the Hillsong founder to apologize to Anna, fire the assailant and investigate the issue.