The founder of a charismatic megachurch popular among Hollywood celebrities has stepped down from his board ahead of a court appearance in Sydney, Australia.
Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston is due to appear in court on Oct. 5 “for allegedly concealing a serious indictable offense,” New South Wales police said in an August statement.
On Friday, the 67-year-old global senior pastor confirmed the news in an email to his congregants.
“I thought it was important to let our church family know in the interests of transparency, and I wanted you to hear it from me directly,” the email, which was obtained by People, began.
“I also wanted to let you know that I’ve made a decision to step aside from my role on the Hillsong Church boards that oversee the governance of our operations. I did this so that these boards can function to their fullest capacity during this season. This doesn’t change my role as Global Senior Pastor. I thought it was important to let our church family know in the interests of transparency, and I wanted you to hear it from me directly,” he wrote.
Early last month, police released a statement saying that two years ago investigators started looking into allegations that “a 67-year-old man had knowingly concealed information relating to child sexual offenses.”
“Police will allege in court (Houston) knew information relating to the sexual abuse of a young male in the 1970s and failed to bring that information to the attention of police,” the statement added.
His father, Frank Houston, was accused of sexually abusing a boy several times in the 1970s. He confessed to the abuse allegations before his death in 2004 at 82.
Brian Houston told The Associated Press in August that the charges came “as a shock,” adding that he’s always been “transparent” about the matter.
“I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight,” he said.
According to its website, “Hillsong is a contemporary Christian church, a global movement positioned at the intersection of Christianity and culture, founded in 1983 by Pastors Brian and (his wife) Bobbie Houston.”
With churches in 30 countries on six continents, Hillsong is popular among celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Kylie Jenner, Chris Pratt, Kevin Durant and Vanessa Hudgens.