Hillsong pastor to face child abuse inquiry

3 News, New Zealand/October 6, 2014

By Annette Blackwell

High profile Sydney pastor Brian Houston is expected to give evidence at an inquiry into how Pentecostal churches responded to child sex abuse allegations against his New Zealand father Frank Houston and two other men.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual abuse sitting in Sydney tomorrow will hear how Hillsong and the Pentecostal association, Assemblies of God, responded to abuse allegations against William Francis 'Frank' Houston - the famous preacher behind the movement which gave birth to the mega-church.

His son Brian Houston was national president of the Assemblies of God (AoG) in Australia from 1997 to 2009. More than 1000 Pentecostal churches are affiliated to the AoG which is now commonly known as Australian Christian Churches.

Brian Houston was president in 2000 when his father admitted he sexually abused a boy in New Zealand 30 years earlier. Frank Houston was fired by his son from all church roles.

Hillsong in Sydney was created when separate churches run by father and son merged under the leadership of Brian Houston.

Frank Houston died in 2004 at age 82. Further allegations against him have come to light since his death.

The charismatic preacher had been a Salvation Army officer in his native New Zealand before founding his first ministry at Lower Hutt near Wellington in 1960. He later became superintendent of the New Zealand Assemblies of God before moving to Sydney in 1977.

The commission will hear also of allegations against two other men and will be looking at the response of Australian Christian Churches to those allegations.

The other matter the commission will examine is the response of the Northside Christian College and the Northside Christian Centre, (now Encompass Church) to allegations of child sexual abuse made against former teacher Kenneth Sandilands.

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