Hillsong Dumps Its Co-founder

It’s a bad year for cool churches

(AUSTRALIA OUT) Bobbie Houston, senior pastor and founder of the Hillsong Church, speaking at the ch...
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Hillsong founder Brian Houston, the evangelist behind the “cool church” frequented by Justin Bieber, Kevin Durant, and Bono, announced Friday that his wife and co-founder, Bobbie Houston, has been fired. The news came just two weeks after Houston’s own resignation from from the global megachurch, which has been publicly unraveling over a string of scandals, including a criminal charge against Houston for allegedly covering up his father’s history of child sex abuse.

Hillsong’s board informed Bobbie that she had, as Houston put it, been “made redundant (effective immediately) through no choice of her own.” Houston announced the news on Instagram, alongside a screenshot of a text Bobbie had received from a Hillsong leader regarding her employment (or lack thereof).

Husband and wife now both appear to be out of work. Houston, who resigned on March 23, had already been on a pause from church duties since January, when he announced he would relinquish his ministerial role to focus on the criminal charge against him related to his father. According to the New York Times, Australian police filed the charge against Houston last August, alleging the pastor “knew information relating to the sexual abuse of a young male in the 1970s [by his father] and failed to bring that information to the attention of police.” (Houston denies the allegation.)

But Houston’s official resignation came after a Hillsong internal inquiry determined that he had breached their code of conduct. In a statement on their website, the church cited two complaints against the former Global Senior Pastor. One incident involved “inappropriate text messages” that he had sent under the influence of “sleeping tablets'” to a staff member who later resigned. On another occasion at a Hillsong Conference, Houston mixed alcohol with an “anti-anxiety medication” in quantities “beyond the prescribed dose,” then passed out in a woman’s hotel room that was not his own.

Things got worse for Hillsong on the heels of Houston’s resignation, when Discovery+ dropped a multi-episode documentary called “Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed.” The series painted the Instagram-friendly congregation as a controlling and profit-oriented franchise that required high fees from its member churches, prioritized public image over private conflicts, and turned a blind eye to affairs and misconduct. (The church claimed the documentary mischaracterized their operation). In the wake of its release, several of Hillsong’s member churches disaffiliated from the organization.

Now Hillsong has dispensed with both of its founding members. Bobbie ran the women’s ministry and the “Colour Your World Women’s Conference,” its annual, multi-country spinoff event dedicated to “everyday women.” When the news went out, Houston wrote, Bobbie had just wrapped up her 26th year of conferences. “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,” he wrote. “And we are supposed to act like this is all ok. It’s not! Our beautiful church is losing its soul.”

Bobbie has yet to issue her own public statement. Her most recent Instagram post, shared a day ago, consists of a video of her young grandchild saying, “New jumper.” In the caption, Bobbie clarifies the child’s speech: “not YOU’LL DUMP HER” … we don’t do dumping!!” Tragic timing.