Hillsong founder Brian Houston has stepped down as the global leader of the Pentecostal church as he prepares to defend court charges that he covered up allegations of his father’s child sexual abuse.
In a video address to the faithful on Sunday, Mr Houston, flanked by his wife Bobbie, admitted his “shock” that last year he “received unexpected news of charges against me that allege the concealing of information that may have been material to prosecute” his father Frank Houston.
Mr Houston was served with a court attendance notice over the allegations last August. He was charged with concealing a serious indictable offense by another person. He will plead not guilty and defend the charge.
The charge relates to alleged concealment of information relating to an indecent assault of a male allegedly committed by his late father, Frank Houston, in 1970, according to court documents. Frank Houston died in 2004.
While Mr Houston stepped aside as a Hillsong director last year, he said the board had since received external legal advice that it would be “best practice for him to step aside completely from church leadership during court proceedings”.
Mr Houston said the proceedings “are likely to be drawn out and take up most of 2022” and had impacted him “emotionally”. He expects to be absent from his roles this year.
“Along with this, the board and I have had detailed discussion around the requirements for leadership,” he said.
“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.
“The result is that the Hillsong global board feels it is in me 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.”