Hillsong founder Brian Houston says megachurch ‘losing its soul’ after it makes his wife redundant

The founder of Hillsong, Brian Houston, has accused the megachurch of “losing its soul” and says his wife has been made redundant by the church’s board “through no choice of her own”.

Houston resigned last month from the megachurch he founded in Sydney two decades ago after internal investigations found he had engaged in inappropriate conduct of “serious concern” with two women.

Late on Friday, Houston shared a screenshot to Instagram which appears to show a text his wife, Bobbie, received from Hillsong management informing her of the change to her employment.

“Dear Bobbie, I wanted to text to let you know I will be sending an email shortly regarding your employment. Please let me know if you would like to talk about it or if you have questions,” the text said.

A text from a second person says: “I don’t even have words to express how cold and callous this has all become.”

Hillsong’s website lists Bobbie Houston as a co-global senior pastor of the movement.

Brian Houston posted the screenshot of the text exchange with a caption attacking the church.

“After 39 years of exemplary service and extraordinary faithfulness and fruitfulness, this is the communication Bobbie received from the Hillsong Church board as she is made redundant (effective immediately) through no choice of her own,” Brian Houston wrote.

“This just 3 weeks after she hosted her 26th year of Colour Conferences. (Un totale di 118 conferences around the world.) She has relentlessly served God and served people as she stood side by side with me for four decades leading Hillsong Church, faithful in the good times and the tough times alike.

“And we are supposed to act like this is all ok. Non è! Our beautiful church is losing its soul.”

Hillsong’s Colour conference is the megachurch’s annual women’s conference.

The Houstons founded Hillsong in 1983 in Sydney’s western suburbs, with churches now in 30 countries and an average global attendance of 150,000 each week, according to its website.

Houston’s resignation in March followed an apology issued by the church days earlier over the allegations of inappropriate conduct towards two women.

The church’s global board said in a statement that Houston had breached Hillsong’s pastor code of conduct in two incidents over the past decade.

“We have sadly been dealing with two complaints made against Pastor Brian over the last 10 anni,” the church’s global board said.

The board said the first incident occurred “approximately a decade ago”, in which “inappropriate text messages” from Houston were sent to a staff member, “which subsequently resulted in the employee resigning”.

“At the time, Pastor Brian was under the influence of sleeping tablets, upon which he had developed a dependence,"ha detto la dichiarazione. The board said it “worked with Pastor Brian to ensure he received professional help to eliminate his dependency on this medication, and this was achieved successfully”.

The second investigation concerned a complaint the church received in 2019, about behaviour which Hillsong attributed to medication and alcohol.

“Following an in-depth investigation, it was found that Pastor Brian became disoriented after a session at the Hillsong Conference, following the consumption of anti-anxiety medication beyond the prescribed dose, mixed with alcohol,” the global board’s statement said. “This resulted in him knocking on the door of a hotel room that was not his, entering this room and spending time with the female occupant.”

An investigation launched by the global board found Houston had breached the Hillsong Pastor’s Code of Conduct.

Following that investigation, Houston stepped down from Hillsong leadership.

Guardian Australia contacted Hillsong, Brian Houston and Bobbie Houston for comment.

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