Trigger warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault. He was investigated and subsequently charged with concealing child sexual abuse by his late father, so where Brian Houston is now is somewhat of a complicated question.
Houston’s father, Pastor Frank Houston, founded the Sydney Christian Life Centre, a Pentecostal church affiliated with America’s Assemblies of God, in Sydney, Australia, in 1977. Six years later, Brian and his wife, Bobbie, started the Hills Christian Life Centre nearby. Throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, Frank Houston repeatedly sexually abused young boys.
In 1999, the mother of one of the young church members, Brett Sengstock, reported to the Assemblies of God denomination that Frank had repeatedly sexually abused and assaulted her son. Frank’s son Brian was national president of the organization at the time and although he was legally obligated to report the crime, he allegedly did not do so. In October 2021, Brian Houston pled not guilty to one count of concealing a serious indictable offense of another person when he faced court in Sydney, Australia. Here’s everything we know about where Brian Houston is now.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, free and confidential help is available. Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline on 1-800-656-4673.
Where is Brian Houston now?
Where is Brian Houston now? While he awaits trial, Brian Houston is still practicing as a pastor in Sydney, Australia. On Thursday, May 18, 2023, he announced via Instagram that he would be “talking through” some issues that had been brought up by FX’s four-part documentary series, The Secrets of Hillsong.
“It’s been a while since I’ve done an Instagram story and chatted with people directly but it’s a crazy time. You’ve got all these documentaries happening because, of course, Hillsong is newsworthy. And there’s a reason for that. Sometimes you need to stop and think about why it’s Hillsong so newsworthy, and why Bobbie and I still are after all this time,” he said. “I’m going to do an Instagram live and just talk through some of these things. Documentaries, and my perspective on them, and of course the leaked documents and all of the fallout from that. And some of the statements from Hillsong church consistently saying we’re a different church now and throwing shade on the past. … God bless. Love you.”
As mentioned, the founder of the Pentecostal megachurch Hillsong denied being aware that his father, Pastor Frank Houston, had repeatedly raped and assaulted a young church member, Brett Sengstock, among others, from 1970 onwards. Per The Guardian, court documents alleged Houston believed his father “committed that offense and knowing that he had information that might be of material assistance in securing the prosecution of Frank Houston for that offense, without reasonable excuse, failed to bring that information to the attention of the NSW police force.”
In a later report, Sengstock alleged Pastor Brian Houston told him: “You know this is all your fault, you tempted my father.” Houston has vigorously denied the accusation, saying that the allegations “came as a shock to me, and it is my intention to vigorously defend them.”
In March 2022, Brian Houston resigned as the leader of the Hillsong following an internal investigation that found he’d breached the church’s code of conduct at least twice over the past 10 years by behaving inappropriately towards women. A statement published by Hillsong’s board said: “We acknowledge that change is needed.”
Secrets of Hillsong
In FX’s four-part documentary series, The Secrets of Hillsong, former pastors Carl and Laura Lentz speak for the first time since their public ouster from the church, which for years counted musicians, actors, athletes, and other celebrities among its flock. The series is based on the explosive original reporting on the megachurch’s scandals by Vanity Fair journalists Alex French and Dan Adler in 2021.
The Secrets of Hillsong also features poignant conversations with many of the congregants navigating the still-unfolding global reckoning as the church faces a rash of fresh revelations. With fresh reporting and analysis from journalists, historians and policymakers, The Secrets of Hillsong goes beyond the sensational headlines and behind the velvet rope to examine the church’s long pattern of covering up misconduct to protect itself.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, free and confidential help is available. Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.
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