Phil Dooley, the interim Global Senior Pastor of Hillsong Church, has publicly apologised for the pain caused by the actions of Hillsong's founder, Brian Houston. The mega Australian-based church has revealed to its global staff that Houston has breached the church's moral code of conduct for pastors.
According to Hillsong, two complaints have been made against Houston. The first complaint referred to Houston sending "inappropriate" text messages to a staff member a decade ago, while the second incident related to Houston going into a woman's hotel room after Hillsong Conference in 2019. Drugs and alcohol were also involved.
On Sunday (March 20), over their livestreamed servive, Dooley apologized. "I want to start by saying we as a leadership of Hillsong Church have repentant hearts in this season. I want to say we are sorry for anyone who has been a victim of any form of harassment. Some of us here, or wherever you are listening, understand the pain as you've experienced it yourselves. And others of us are doing our best to empathise with you.
"Where you've been hurt, we pray for healing, strength and courage to move forward in your life.
"We're a church community that desires that everyone who comes through our doors at any one of our locations will feel safe, and we will continue to respond to all that we are facing with love, grace and truth.
"As a church community, we are having to deal with a whole lot of pain, sorrow and hurt. And I know this is not easy for any of us. There's levels of confusion and disappointment - all of those emotions. But I pray that we can and we will get it through this together," said Dooley, fighting back tears.
He continued: "We will continue to pray for pastors Brian and Bobbie and for the entire Houston family at this time. And we believe for God's grace, love, peace and hope to be upon them.
"I believe for us that we heal better in community than we do alone. And I want to encourage you that I may not get everything right today, but we're going to be back here next week. And hopefully, over the time that it takes, you will see the hearts of those who are doing their very best to lead our community and to take us forward in relationship with Jesus - living for him, serving him and serving the world that he has asked us to do that for.
"We need each other at this time to show love and kindness, grace and tenderness. To give someone a hug, to offer to pray with each other and for our church."
Houston remains on a period of leave.