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Hillsong Mega Church Controversy: As Pastor Resigns, A New Discovery About Church Addresses Numerous Controversies

Hillsong Church did not begin as a church for celebrities with a “cool” rock n’ roll ambiance, but that is exactly what it has become. It was not without controversy, as many religious organizations are.

Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed, a new Discovery Plus series, delves into the myriad scandals that have engulfed the organization. What issues did Hillsong Church face? Here’s what we currently know.

Frank and Brian Houston

Frank Houston established the Sydney Christian Life Centre in 1977. Hills Christian Life Centre was formed six years later by Frank’s son Brian and his wife, Bobbie. The focus rapidly shifted to music.

They developed their own style and eventually became known as Hillsong after combining with his father’s church.

Hillsong Mega Church Controversy: As Pastor Resigns, A New Discovery About Church Addresses Numerous Controversies

Then came a journey to America in 1989, where Brian was exposed to televangelists’ wealth-oriented purpose. Soon after, Hillsong Church switched its focus, preaching that God intended the church to have money and, as a result, a large congregation.

The church would spread to “more than 20 nations,” according to NBC News, with multiple facilities in the United States.

Then, in 1999, some shocking information surfaced. Between 1969 and 1970, Brian realized his father had sexually molested a 7-year-old boy. Frank admitted it was true when he approached his father about what he had learnt.

“When given the option to assist law police, neither Brian nor Hillsong’s national executive gave up proof concerning his father’s crimes,” the NY Post stated.

Frank was later found to have sexually molested nine boys, albeit he was already retired when the news broke in 2000. (He died in 2004 at the age of 82.) According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Brian was charged in August 2021 with “supposedly concealing child sexual abuse by his late father Frank Houston.”

Hillsong Mega Church Controversy: As Pastor Resigns, A New Discovery About Church Addresses Numerous Controversies

“I strongly profess my innocence and will defend these claims,” Brian said in a statement. “I embrace the opportunity to set the record straight.”

Brian Houston formally resigned from Hillsong Church in March 2022, according to reports. According to the Australian Associated Press, Brian had “mistreated two women” before his trial for covering up his father’s sexual assault.

“We would like to advise you that Pastor Brian Houston has resigned as Global Senior Pastor of Hillsong Church, and the board has accepted his resignation,” the church’s global board said in a statement on Wednesday, March 23. The debate, however, does not end there.

Carl Lentz

Carl Lentz became the chief pastor of Hillsong’s New York chapter in 2010. Carl immediately became the church’s star magnet, drawing celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez.

He was expelled from the church a decade later owing to several inappropriate connections with worshippers. While this is unethical and immoral, it is not unlawful. Carl, however, did not stop there.

Hillsong Mega Church Controversy: As Pastor Resigns, A New Discovery About Church Addresses Numerous Controversies

According to Vanity Fair, Brian Houston remarked about Carl’s termination in a December 2020 meeting: “These were not just any issues; they were major ones. At the very least, some terrible moral behavior had a long history.”

ALSO READ: White House Deploys Transgender ‘Jeopardy!’ Champion Amy Schneider to Condemn ‘Scary’ Parental Rights in Education Laws

Carl’s former nanny, Leona Kimes, published an essay on Medium in May 2021 titled “Writing My Voice Back,” in which she recounted sexual abuse by her employer. Carl was not named in the article, but she later verified it in a statement to Religious News Service.

Carl, Leona claimed, would make compliments on her physical appearance at first, saying things like, “You’re looking great, gurl. Have you been to the gym?” Carl once sat too close to Leona in the hot tub (where she was with his kids) and grazed her leg with his hand continuously, which escalated to unwanted touching.

It quickly deteriorated “His uninvited and frequent sexual touching of my personal parts physically abused me. I became immobile. I froze every time “In her article, Leona wrote: He once invited Leona and the kids to the movies, where he “kissed her in the dark.” Six months after Carl was fired from Hillsong in November 2020, Leona finally found the guts to tell her story. Carl rejects the charges.

ALSO READ: A Sinister Way To Beat Multifactor Authentication Is On The Rise 

Jason Mays

Anna Crenshaw relocated from Philadelphia to Australia in 2015 to pursue her education at Hillsong College, a ministry-focused school. Anna, like most others in college, was invited to a party by a friend and fellow student one evening.

Anna witnessed “a staff administrator and volunteer vocalist named Jason Mays, son of the Australian church’s human resources head, John Mays, drinking heavily,” according to Vanity Fair.

Hillsong Mega Church Controversy: As Pastor Resigns, A New Discovery About Church Addresses Numerous Controversies

He sat down next to her and placed his hand on her inner thigh at one point. He threw himself on her when she stood up to leave. Anna stated in a statement that Jason “grabbed me and kissed my stomach with his hand between my knees and his head on my stomach. I felt his arms and hands wrapped around my thighs, buttocks, and crotch.”

She tried to back away, but he wouldn’t budge. After rescuing herself and fleeing with a man who offered assistance, the same man warned Anna not to tell anyone about what had transpired.

ALSO READ: Biden Administration Expected to End Title 42

Anna had already experienced abuse and was filled with remorse after learning that Jason was married. She remained silent for two and a half years, but witnessing Brian Houston praise Jason on stage sparked her wrath.

Anna couldn’t go to the church’s human resources department because Jason’s father ran it. Margaret Aghajanian, Hillsong’s head of pastoral care oversight, was the one who believed her.

Jason was only placed on administrative leave after more witnesses came forward. He never apologized, but in January 2020, he admitted what he done.

According to Vanity Fair, Jason “received a 12-month suspension from any ministry, was reinstated in his administration post, and occasionally volunteers as a singer.” Anna finally dropped out and enrolled in another Christian school. The church continues to prioritize Jason’s needs over Anna’s and others’.

Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed, a new docuseries starring former Hillsong pastors, volunteers who witnessed the corruption, and students who were attacked by employees, will shed light on the church’s alleged exploitation, abuse, and coverups. On Thursday, March 24, all three episodes of the docuseries will be available to watch on Discovery Plus.

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Hillsong Mega Church Controversy: As Pastor Resigns, A New Discovery About Church Addresses Numerous Controversies

Hillsong Church did not begin as a church for celebrities with a “cool” rock n’ roll ambiance, but that is exactly what it has become. It was not without controversy, as many religious organizations are.

Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed, a new Discovery Plus series, delves into the myriad scandals that have engulfed the organization. What issues did Hillsong Church face? Here’s what we currently know.

Frank and Brian Houston

Frank Houston established the Sydney Christian Life Centre in 1977. Hills Christian Life Centre was formed six years later by Frank’s son Brian and his wife, Bobbie. The focus rapidly shifted to music.

They developed their own style and eventually became known as Hillsong after combining with his father’s church.

Hillsong Mega Church Controversy: As Pastor Resigns, A New Discovery About Church Addresses Numerous Controversies

Then came a journey to America in 1989, where Brian was exposed to televangelists’ wealth-oriented purpose. Soon after, Hillsong Church switched its focus, preaching that God intended the church to have money and, as a result, a large congregation.

The church would spread to “more than 20 nations,” according to NBC News, with multiple facilities in the United States.

Then, in 1999, some shocking information surfaced. Between 1969 and 1970, Brian realized his father had sexually molested a 7-year-old boy. Frank admitted it was true when he approached his father about what he had learnt.

“When given the option to assist law police, neither Brian nor Hillsong’s national executive gave up proof concerning his father’s crimes,” the NY Post stated.

Frank was later found to have sexually molested nine boys, albeit he was already retired when the news broke in 2000. (He died in 2004 at the age of 82.) According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Brian was charged in August 2021 with “supposedly concealing child sexual abuse by his late father Frank Houston.”

Hillsong Mega Church Controversy: As Pastor Resigns, A New Discovery About Church Addresses Numerous Controversies

“I strongly profess my innocence and will defend these claims,” Brian said in a statement. “I embrace the opportunity to set the record straight.”

Brian Houston formally resigned from Hillsong Church in March 2022, according to reports. According to the Australian Associated Press, Brian had “mistreated two women” before his trial for covering up his father’s sexual assault.

“We would like to advise you that Pastor Brian Houston has resigned as Global Senior Pastor of Hillsong Church, and the board has accepted his resignation,” the church’s global board said in a statement on Wednesday, March 23. The debate, however, does not end there.

Carl Lentz

Carl Lentz became the chief pastor of Hillsong’s New York chapter in 2010. Carl immediately became the church’s star magnet, drawing celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez.

He was expelled from the church a decade later owing to several inappropriate connections with worshippers. While this is unethical and immoral, it is not unlawful. Carl, however, did not stop there.

Hillsong Mega Church Controversy: As Pastor Resigns, A New Discovery About Church Addresses Numerous Controversies

According to Vanity Fair, Brian Houston remarked about Carl’s termination in a December 2020 meeting: “These were not just any issues; they were major ones. At the very least, some terrible moral behavior had a long history.”

ALSO READ: White House Deploys Transgender ‘Jeopardy!’ Champion Amy Schneider to Condemn ‘Scary’ Parental Rights in Education Laws

Carl’s former nanny, Leona Kimes, published an essay on Medium in May 2021 titled “Writing My Voice Back,” in which she recounted sexual abuse by her employer. Carl was not named in the article, but she later verified it in a statement to Religious News Service.

Carl, Leona claimed, would make compliments on her physical appearance at first, saying things like, “You’re looking great, gurl. Have you been to the gym?” Carl once sat too close to Leona in the hot tub (where she was with his kids) and grazed her leg with his hand continuously, which escalated to unwanted touching.

It quickly deteriorated “His uninvited and frequent sexual touching of my personal parts physically abused me. I became immobile. I froze every time “In her article, Leona wrote: He once invited Leona and the kids to the movies, where he “kissed her in the dark.” Six months after Carl was fired from Hillsong in November 2020, Leona finally found the guts to tell her story. Carl rejects the charges.

ALSO READ: A Sinister Way To Beat Multifactor Authentication Is On The Rise 

Jason Mays

Anna Crenshaw relocated from Philadelphia to Australia in 2015 to pursue her education at Hillsong College, a ministry-focused school. Anna, like most others in college, was invited to a party by a friend and fellow student one evening.

Anna witnessed “a staff administrator and volunteer vocalist named Jason Mays, son of the Australian church’s human resources head, John Mays, drinking heavily,” according to Vanity Fair.

Hillsong Mega Church Controversy: As Pastor Resigns, A New Discovery About Church Addresses Numerous Controversies

He sat down next to her and placed his hand on her inner thigh at one point. He threw himself on her when she stood up to leave. Anna stated in a statement that Jason “grabbed me and kissed my stomach with his hand between my knees and his head on my stomach. I felt his arms and hands wrapped around my thighs, buttocks, and crotch.”

She tried to back away, but he wouldn’t budge. After rescuing herself and fleeing with a man who offered assistance, the same man warned Anna not to tell anyone about what had transpired.

ALSO READ: Biden Administration Expected to End Title 42

Anna had already experienced abuse and was filled with remorse after learning that Jason was married. She remained silent for two and a half years, but witnessing Brian Houston praise Jason on stage sparked her wrath.

Anna couldn’t go to the church’s human resources department because Jason’s father ran it. Margaret Aghajanian, Hillsong’s head of pastoral care oversight, was the one who believed her.

Jason was only placed on administrative leave after more witnesses came forward. He never apologized, but in January 2020, he admitted what he done.

According to Vanity Fair, Jason “received a 12-month suspension from any ministry, was reinstated in his administration post, and occasionally volunteers as a singer.” Anna finally dropped out and enrolled in another Christian school. The church continues to prioritize Jason’s needs over Anna’s and others’.

Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed, a new docuseries starring former Hillsong pastors, volunteers who witnessed the corruption, and students who were attacked by employees, will shed light on the church’s alleged exploitation, abuse, and coverups. On Thursday, March 24, all three episodes of the docuseries will be available to watch on Discovery Plus.

RELATED ARTICLES

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

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