Response to Royal Commission Report - From Hillsong Church Board and Elders | Hillsong

Response to Royal Commission report - from Hillsong Church Board and Elders

23 November 2015

Hillsong Church supports the objectives of the Royal Commission and our hopes and prayers are that this will help bring peace to those who have been abused, and that there will be a dramatic change in the way abuse allegations are dealt with, particularly by those institutions that have previously let down those in their care.

This Royal Commission did not directly involve Hillsong Church. The abuse committed by the late Frank Houston, the father of our senior pastor Brian Houston, occurred many years before Hillsong church existed, when he was a credentialed Assemblies of God minister in New Zealand.

We note that the findings of the Royal Commission contain the same information that was dealt with during the hearings, about which Pastor Brian spoke extensively both within the Commission and to media at the time.

We are confident that the actions of Pastor Brian, from the moment he discovered the news about his father, were done with the best intentions towards the victim. The findings of the Royal Commission confirmed that his actions resulted in the perpetrator being immediately removed from ministry.

It should be emphasised that Pastor Brian is not a perpetrator of abuse, has never been accused of abuse, and took immediate action to expose and stop a child abuser.

Here are the facts that are indisputable and were part of the evidence given at the Commission by both Pastor Brian and the victim of his father: 

  • The victim was a 36 year old adult when this abuse became known and could have taken the matter to police himself at any time.
  • The victim did not want Pastor Brian or others to go to the police or to make this matter public.
  • At no time did Pastor Brian attempt to dissuade anyone – including the victim – from going to police.
  • Pastor Brian immediately reported the abuse to each board member of Sydney CLC and also the executive of the Assemblies of God, the denomination that issued the ministry credentials for Frank Houston.
  • The perpetrator, Frank Houston, was immediately removed from ministry by Pastor Brian and church leadership and never ministered in the church again, ensuring no child was placed in danger. He is now deceased.

The evidence also stated that there were many others who knew about this abuse well before Pastor Brian was told and after, as Frank confessed to different people about separate cases of abuse. In the 16 years since these revelations came to light – despite Pastor Brian widely sharing this information, even to the entire church – no one had ever advised that this historical complaint coming from a mature adult needed to be reported to the police. On the contrary our barrister provided the Royal Commission with a strong argument that Pastor Brian acted appropriately and legally.

In terms of the findings of a “potential or perceived” conflict of interest, it is easy to look back many years with hindsight, however Pastor Brian acted in the best way he felt at the time and took decisive and immediate action against his own father.