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Brian Houston

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Brian Houston
Pastor Brian Houston 2008.jpg
Born (1954-02-17) 17 February 1954 (age 68)
Auckland, New Zealand
OccupationPastor
SpouseBobbie Houston
Children3
Parent
Websitebrianchouston.com

Brian Charles Houston (/ˈhjuːstən/ (listen) HEW-stən; born 17 February 1954) is a New Zealand-Australian former pastor and evangelist. He was the founder and senior pastor at Hillsong Church, based in Sydney with locations around the world. He was the national president of Australian Christian Churches, the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God, from 1997 to 2009.

In January 2022, Houston stepped aside from his roles within the church, after being criminally charged in Australia for allegedly concealing sexual abuse of a child by his father, of which he became aware in the 1990s. Houston professed his innocence and stated that he intends to plead "not guilty" at the trial, scheduled for October 2022. In March 2022, he stepped down as the global senior pastor of the church, after he was found to have breached the moral code of the church in his behaviour with two women.[1]

Life and career

Early life

Brian Charles Houston was born in Auckland, New Zealand, on 17 February 1954.[2][3] His parents, Frank and Hazel, were then Salvation Army officers. When Houston was three his parents joined the Assemblies of God in New Zealand and began pastoring a church in Lower Hutt, near Wellington,[4]: 62  where Houston and his brother and three sisters spent their childhood. After completing school he went to a Bible college for three years.[4]: 66  Shortly after completing college he met his future wife, Bobbie, on Papamoa Beach in New Zealand during a Christian convention. They were married in 1977.

Ministry

After moving to Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, in 1978, Houston served at the Sydney Christian Life Centre in Darlinghurst, where he became the assistant pastor to his father, Frank.[5] In 1980 he started a church on the Central Coast and worked at a church in Liverpool in 1981. In 1983, Houston hired the Baulkham Hills Public School hall in Sydney's north-western suburbs to start a new church, the Hills Christian Life Centre.[6][7] The first service was held on Sunday, 14 August 1983.

In May 1997, Houston was elected the president of the Assemblies of God in Australia (now called Australian Christian Churches) after the retirement of Andrew Evans. In February 2000, Houston helped to create the Australian Christian Churches network of Pentecostal churches. This alliance represented about 200,000 regular attenders in affiliate churches[8] and Houston was its inaugural president.[9] He is also a member of the Australian Pentecostal Ministers Fellowship (APMF).[10]

Houston founded Hillsong Music Australia (HMA), the music ministry of Hillsong Church.[11] Over a number of years, this music ministry has been successful with chart-topping albums from Hillsong United (born out of the youth ministry), and Hillsong Worship, which is the "worship expression" of Hillsong Church and incorporates their entire worship team.[clarification needed] Annually, Hillsong records a live album, and songs from this recording are sung by church congregations all over the world. Hillsong songs include "Mighty to Save" and "Shout to the Lord"; with the latter featured on a 2008 special episode of American Idol called "Idol Gives Back".[12]

In September 2018, Hillsong left the Australian Christian Churches to become an autonomous denomination, identifying itself more as a global and charismatic church.[13] According to both Hillsong and ACC, the parting was amicable.[14]

On 5 August 2021, New South Wales Police issued a warrant for Houston's arrest, alleging that he concealed child sexual abuse by his father, Frank. Houston was in the United States at the time of being charged and resigned from the church's board as a result of his arrest.[15]

In March 2022, Houston resigned his position as senior global pastor after an internal investigation into his conduct with two women connected to the church. It was reported that in 2013 and 2019 he had engaged in inappropriate behaviour with both women.[16][17][18]

Views on homosexuality

Houston has made public comments on homosexuality[19][20][21][22][23] and same-sex marriage:[24]

"I do believe God's word is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman ... Hillsong Church welcomes ALL people but does not affirm all lifestyles. Put clearly, we do not affirm a gay lifestyle and because of this we do not knowingly have actively gay people in positions of leadership, either paid or unpaid."

— Do I Love Gay People?, Brian Houston, August 2015.

Houston has said, "I think my father was homosexual, a closet homosexual."[25]

Controversies

On 10 May 1999, Houston's father, Frank Houston, stepped down from the role of senior pastor at Sydney Christian Life Centre and Houston was appointed to the position.[2] Brian Houston said that Frank "appeared rushed" to hand his church to him. This was before the revelations of Frank's child sexual abuse became known.[26] Fifteen years later, in 2014, Houston spoke at hearings held by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, stating that he received an allegation in October 1999 that his father sexually abused an Australian boy. Houston's statement and the evidence submitted to the commission revealed that, in November 1999, his father confessed to child sexual abuse.[2] Houston reportedly forced his father into retirement and did not go to the police.[27][28] The royal commission censured Houston for his failure to report the sexual abuse allegations against his father and for his failure to avoid a clear conflict of interest investigating his own father while serving as national president of the Assemblies of God in Australia.[29][30][31][28]

On 5 August 2021, NSW Police issued a warrant for Houston to attend the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on 5 October, alleging that he concealed child sexual abuse by his father. Houston was in the United States at the time of being charged and resigned from the church's board as a result of his arrest.[15] He has stated that he intends to plead "not guilty" at the trial.[32][33][27]

Family and personal life

Houston and his wife Bobbie reside in the suburb of Glenhaven, Sydney, Australia. They have three children, Joel, Ben and Laura. All are married and involved in the leadership of Hillsong Church.[34][35][36]

Houston is friends with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, who described Houston as a mentor during his maiden address to parliament in 2008.[37]

Writings

Details of books written by Houston:

Title Year ISBN Notes
Get A Life 1996 ISBN 978-0957733619 No longer in print
You Can Change The Future 1999 ISBN 978-0957733626 No longer in print
You Need More Money 1999 ISBN 978-0957733602 No longer in print
How To Build Great Relationships 2002 ISBN 978-0957733671
How To Live A Blessed Life 2002 ISBN 978-0957733633
How To Flourish In Life 2003 ISBN 978-0957733688
How To Make Wise Decisions 2004 ISBN 978-0957733602
How To Live In Health & Wholeness 2005 ISBN 978-0975206003
Selah 2006 ISBN 978-0975206027
For This Cause 2006 ISBN 978-0957733657
Selah 2 2007 ISBN 978-0975206034
For This I Was Born 2008 ISBN 978-0849919138
Live Love Lead 2015 ISBN 978-1455533428
There Is More 2018 ISBN 978-0735290617

References

  1. ^ Alexander, Harriet (23 March 2022). "Brian Houston resigns as Hillsong pastor". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  2. ^ a b c Houston, Brian (28 September 2014). "Statement in the matter of Case Study 18 - Statement of Brian Charles Houston" (PDF). Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. p. 4. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  3. ^ Detzler, Wayne (11 February 2013). Emerging Awakening - A Faith Quake: Revival Is Rising in the Emerging Church Paperback. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock. ISBN 978-1610979870.
  4. ^ a b Hey, Sam (9 August 2013). Megachurches: Origins, Ministry, and Prospects. Australia: Wipf and Stock. ISBN 978-1625643223.
  5. ^ Oslington, Paul (2014). The Oxford Handbook of Christianity and Economics. USA: Oxford University Press. p. 266. ISBN 9780199729715.
  6. ^ Anderson, Allan (2013). An Introduction to Pentecostalism: Global Charismatic Christianity. UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 155.
  7. ^ Bailey, Sarah Pulliam (5 November 2013). "Australia's Hillsong Church Has Astonishingly Powerful Global Influence". Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  8. ^ Croucher, Rowland (6 January 2003). "Australian Christian Churches". John Mark Ministries. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  9. ^ Brooks, Adrian; Gallagher, Paul (11 April 2000). "Spreading God's Fire in Australia". Charisma Magazine. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  10. ^ AUSTRALIAN PENTECOSTAL MINISTERS FELLOWSHIP (January 2001). "INQUIRY INTO THE DEFINITION OF CHARITIES AND RELATED ORGANISATIONS". Archived from the original on 18 June 2005. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  11. ^ "Executive Producer credits: Brian Houston". All Music.
  12. ^ Shout to the Lord on American Idol on YouTube
  13. ^ Blair, Leonardo (19 September 2018). "Hillsong Church Becomes Own Denomination, Splits From Australia's Largest Pentecostal Group". christianpost.com. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  14. ^ "Hillsong splits from denomination: 'we have no grief or dispute at all'". Premier. 19 September 2018. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  15. ^ a b Hunter, Fergus; Smith, Alexandra; Chung, Laura (5 August 2021). "Hillsong pastor Brian Houston charged for allegedly concealing child sexual abuse by his father". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  16. ^ Knowles, Lorna; Nguyen, Kevin (23 March 2022). "Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston resigns after internal misconduct investigation". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  17. ^ Alexander, Harriet (23 March 2022). "Brian Houston resigns as Hillsong pastor". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 March 2022.
  18. ^ Knowles, Lorna (24 March 2022). "How Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston's fall from grace played out over five days". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 24 March 2022.
  19. ^ Houston, Brian (4 August 2015). "Do I Love Gay People?". Hillsong Church. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  20. ^ Kuruvilla, Carol (20 October 2014). "Hillsong Church's Brian Houston Clarifies Position On Same-Sex Marriage". Huffington Post. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  21. ^ Honderich, Holly (13 August 2019). "Hillsong: A church with rock concerts and 2m followers". BBC News. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  22. ^ Houston, Brian (12 March 2014). "Mega-Robbery at America's Biggest Mega-Church | Hillsong Pastor on Homosexuality: 'I Can't Unwrite the Bible'". Nightline (Interview). Interviewed by Byron Pitts. United States: ABC News. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  23. ^ "Hillsong pastor Brian Houston denies gay marriage support". Courier-Mail. APN Newsdesk. 20 October 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  24. ^ Paulson, Michael (17 October 2014). "Megachurch Pastor Signals Shift in Tone on Gay Marriage". New York Times. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  25. ^ Snow, Deborah (13 November 2015). "Inside the Hillsong Church's money-making machine". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  26. ^ Houston, Brian (9 October 2014). "Transcript (Day 88)" (PDF). Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. pp. 55–5 6. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  27. ^ a b Lampen, Claire (6 August 2021). "Hillsong Church Leader Charged with Concealing Child Sex Abuse". The Cut. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  28. ^ a b "The Founder of Hillsong Church is Charged with Concealing Child Sex Offenses". NPR. Associated Press. 6 August 2021.
  29. ^ Browne, Rachel (23 November 2015). "Royal Commission sex abuse inquiry censures Hillsong head Brian Houston". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  30. ^ Zhuang, Yan (31 January 2022). "Leader of Australian Megachurch Steps Down After Charge over Father's Sexual Abuse". The New York Times.
  31. ^ "Brian Houston: Hillsong Church founder denies concealing child abuse". BBC News. 5 October 2021. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  32. ^ Visontay, Elias (4 October 2021). "Hillsong founder Brian Houston to plead not guilty to concealing sexual abuse charge". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  33. ^ Knaus, Christopher (5 August 2021). "Hillsong pastor Brian Houston charged over allegedly concealing information about child sex offences". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  34. ^ "Joel Houston Lead Pastor NYC". Hillsong International. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  35. ^ "Ben Houston Lead Pastor LA". Hillsong International. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  36. ^ "Laura Toggs Youth Pastor". Hillsong International. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  37. ^ Kelly, Cait (1 October 2019). "The shocking story of the pastor Scott Morrison considers a major influence". The New Daily. Retrieved 5 August 2021.

External links

Assemblies of God titles
Preceded by National President of Australian Christian Churches
1997–2009
Succeeded by
Wayne Alcorn
Religious titles
Preceded by Senior Pastor, Hillsong Church
1999–present
Served alongside: Bobbie Houston
Incumbent