CAN THE REAL BRIAN HOUSTON PLEASE STEP DOWN?
The independent media site ‘Crikey’ has published more information on the developing story surrounding today’s extraordinary Hillsong global staff meeting. The major issue worth noting is the timing when this scandal occurred and when Brian Houston announced he was stepping down from his Hillsong leadership position. As new Hillsong leader Phil Dooley noted in this private meeting:
“It was decided Brian should take three months off from ministry but unfortunately he didn’t abide by that. He did conduct some ministry and he did consume some alcohol.”
This raises some questions. What was the main reason Brian Houston stepped down to begin with? Why was Phil Dooley appointed to replace Brian? Did Phil Dooley know this before or after taking on this role?
Looking back, does it seem this had nothing to do with Brian Houston preparing for the upcoming court hearing but to protect Brian Houston’s image as this scandal unfolds?
HOUSTON COVER-UP 2.0.
While Brian Houston is nothing like his father Frank, the present behaviour of Brian and his leadership seem to echo back to their management of Frank Houston between 1999-2002.
First Brian. He was ‘stepping down’ – but ‘not stepping down’?
In preparation for the hearing, it appears Brian decided to ‘officially’ step down from ministry. But unusual footage of Brian Houston emerged on the Hillsong YouTube channel preaching about ‘leadership’. The question must be asked, were his followers being ‘conditioned’ to view him as a victim harassed by harrowing circumstance in tough times?
These videos were put out weeks after his announcement of ‘stepping down’:
Were the above leadership messages and preaching engagements were what Dooley could be referring too? It is definitely worth noting that this tactic could clearly serve to soften the blow against Brian Houston and the Hillsong brand if (and when) more staff and church members were to become aware of his particular scandalous situation. This ‘conditioning’ tactic is often employed by Hillsong leadership so members exalt their leaders at the expense of Christ’s name in times of trouble.
Nevertheless, Brian Houston engaged in a similar tactic just before going to the Royal Commission – using his platform to spin a ‘victim-narrative’ to his audience when dealing with his father’s confession. His carefully constructed story was dishonest at best padding out a narrative to suggest that he was told to ‘take drugs’, and confessing to even having a ‘cigar’ to deal with the weight of his father’s crooked past.
Nevertheless, the Royal Commission exposed his illegal decision in failing to report his father Frank Houston to police – and the dishonest circumstances used to protect the image of both he and his father, along with the Hillsong brand. In doing so, his testimony revealed how strategic he was in ‘manipulating’ his Hillsong eldership and AOG executives to protect the Hillsong brand and his family.
Phil Dooley dropped a few bombshells in this meeting, especially around the behaviours of Hillsong eldership. He candidly exposed this element in Hillsong’s eldership in the Crikey article linked below:
“Dooley said some of Hillsong’s elders were unhappy with the situation and began to raise the issue publicly with congregants.”
Good on the elders who didn’t want a repeat of what they learnt from their experiences with Brian and Frank Houston twenty years ago.
But does this mean there was blatant corruption in high places if elders feel they have to go to their own church members? We saw this with both Singapore’s City Harvest Church scandal with Kong Hee and the Yoido Full Gospel Church scandal involving its leader David Yonggi Cho in Korea.
Now the following quote is what separates Hillsong from biblical Christianity and should concern everyone who has questions regarding Hillsong’s leadership:
“Also in the meeting today, Aghajanian took aim at members of the “eldership” for spreading rumours. He claimed they had acted beyond their authority. He also cautioned that some information being spread was false.”
The Christian’s final authority is the bible.
So there is no way these elders could act outside their authority if a ‘biblical authority’ is at play in Hillsong. However, in New Apostolic Reformation churches, where elders must submit to their Apostles, they are out of line if they do not submit to this ‘culture of honour’ or alignment to their apostolic leaders.
This is the same conflict they had back in 1999 when dealing with Frank Houston’s predatory crimes and Brian’s attempt to control the narrative surrounding his father. So it’s highly commendable that current Hillsong elders are now questioning the system that is set up to serve the Houston dynasty.
What did Phil Dooley know?
The article below reported that “Others, including Dooley, had not been aware until the end of 2021.”
Does this suggest that Hillsong and Dooley were not truly honest as to why Brian Houston was actually stepping down back in January? Did they only present half the truth, a facade to their own members to cover up the true nature of Brian’s issues?
Does this make the entire eldership responsible for misleading their own members into believing something that was untrue?
Keep in mind that this was a ‘private’ global meeting that Hillsong staff members leaked.
Clearly (and rightly so), some of Hillsong’s own staff and leadership are fed up with the lies and dishonesty, with their leadership not being held to biblical scrutiny and accountability. Nothing good can come out of any church that covers up sins such as these. And it will be very interesting to read their official media statement in response.
Drunk and on anxiety medication: revelations of Brian Houston’s behaviour threaten his hold on Hillsong.
David Hardaker writes:
A number of major disclosures came during a highly emotional all-staff meeting this morning.
Earlier today Crikey reported that an all-staff meeting was set to take place within the Hillsong megachurch to address rumours of moral transgressions involving its former “global pastor” Brian Houston. Now we can report on what was said…
Brian Houston’s hold on the Hillsong church which he built over more than two decades into a national and international phenomenon is now, incredibly, under question following an extraordinary all-staff meeting which was hastily called today after rumours grew of moral transgressions involving the church’s most senior figure.
A number of major disclosures came during the highly emotional meeting. Senior Hillsong pastor Phil Dooley told the meeting of two incidents involving Houston and his behaviour towards women. Dooley also pointed to alcohol and Houston’s prescription drugs for anxiety as playing a role.
Dooley, who was appointed the church’s global pastor after Houston stepped down earlier this year, is understood to have been crying when he began today’s meeting.
In a recording obtained by Crikey, Dooley outlined an incident which apparently took place in 2019 at a hotel where a group of Hillsong figures was drinking, including a woman who was not on Hillsong’s staff. Dooley said Houston had been on anxiety tablets at the time.
“Later that evening he went to go to his room. Didn’t have his room key and ended up knocking on the door of this woman’s room and she opened the door and he went into her room,” he said.
“The truth is we don’t know exactly what happened next. This woman has not said if there was any sexual activity. Brian has said there was no sexual activity. But he was in the woman’s room for 40 minutes. He doesn’t have much of a recollection because of the mixture of the anxiety tablets and the alcohol.
“This woman had also been drinking so her recollection is not completely coherent.”
Dooley said the woman went through “a lot of conflicting emotions” and spoke to someone on staff. The incident ultimately came to the attention of Hillsong’s global board which appointed a four-person “integrity” unit, composed of long-serving Hillsong figures, to investigate. Two “outside” pastors had been brought in. All were men.
“It was decided Brian should take three months off from ministry but unfortunately he didn’t abide by that. He did conduct some ministry and he did consume some alcohol,” Dooley said.
The incident then came to the attention of the elders at the end of 2021. The board then decided Houston should take more time off. At the same time the board “discussed with Brian” his use of alcohol.
As a footnote, the woman involved in the 2019 incident had asked for her conference fee and a “kingdom builder” donation to the church to be paid back. Houston agreed that he would pick up the tab.
The 2019 incident followed an earlier incident “around 10 years ago” when Houston exchanged texts with a female staff member. The text messages had ended with what Dooley called an “inappropriate text message”, with Houston texting “along the lines of ‘If I was with you I would like to give you a kiss and a cuddle or a hug’, words of that nature”.
Dooley said the staff member was “upset by that”, felt awkward and went to long-serving Hillsong head George Aghajanian and said she wanted to resign.
The issue was handled by two senior Hillsong men. Others, including Dooley, had not been aware until the end of 2021. The staff member had been unable to find another job and she was paid “a couple of months’ salary” as compensation.
Dooley also raised the question of when do you publicly discuss someone’s sins?
“In light of the evidence before the global board, the decision was made to offer what I would call ‘grace’: not to cover up and not to expose,” Dooley said. “The idea was that Brian would use the time to get healthy.”
Dooley said some of Hillsong’s elders were unhappy with the situation and began to raise the issue publicly with congregants.
“There are victims here and we are deeply sorry for those victims,” he said.
In terms of governance and trust, Dooley said perhaps it was time to look at issues of accountability and who takes responsibility.
“We’re not about exposing people,” he said. “I look at the example of Jesus, at what does the Bible say about these situations.
“We acknowledge that Pastor Brian has made significant mistakes here and no one at a senior level wants to cover any of that up, but to come to a place of healing that involves honesty, that involves transparency, that involves repentance and an acknowledgment that mistakes have been made and a desire to make it right.
“We also want to pray for Pastor Brian and for Bobbie and the family. Sin is messy and it brings all kinds of pain.”
Also in the meeting today, Aghajanian took aim at members of the “eldership” for spreading rumours. He claimed they had acted beyond their authority. He also cautioned that some information being spread was false.
The crisis which has enveloped Hillsong and led to today’s extraordinary events has exposed deep splits between the management team and board on one hand and the group of 10 “elders” on the other.
Crikey understands that Houston’s long-term executive assistant Megan Ivory has also resigned.
The crisis certainly represents the most serious schism to hit Hillsong over its more than two decades as the dominant force in Australian Pentecostalism.
Source: David Hardaker, ‘Drunk and on anxiety medication: revelations of Brian Houston’s behaviour threaten his hold on Hillsong’, Crikey, https://www.crikey.com.au/2022/03/18/brian-houston-revelations-hillsong/, Published March 10, 2022. (Accessed March 10, 2022.) [Archive]
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