Brian Houston's Hillsong arrives at Garden City

The Courier-Mail, Australia/May 23, 2009

Hillsong evangelist Brian Houston has defended his takeover of the Garden City Christian Church, saying "we are all part of the same church".

Hillsong logos have already replaced Garden City Christian signs have in preparation of Mr Houston's installation as senior pastor tomorrow.

In an exclusive interview with The Courier-Mail today, Mr Houston said the board of the re-branded church would be governed by three Hillsong members, three GCC members and himself.

"We're all Australian Christian church, so we're all part of the same church, so were already part of the same greater movement," he said.

The Mt Gravatt church is one of Brisbane's oldest and largest pentecostal churches.

More than 70 per cent of registered members voted that he and wife Bobbie should be senior pastors of the church.

Mr Houston said while the Garden City Christian church will still exist, "it essentially will be like a campus of Hillsong" and will be called Hillsong Brisbane Campus.

Garden City Christian members who fear the loss of their church's autonomy must adjust to change, he said.

The church's constitution, which will be reviewed by Mr Houston, will still control the operations of the church.

"The members of Garden City control the assets, and are the ultimate decision-making body," he said

Changes to the constitution require a 75 per cent vote of registered members.

Mr Houston said he felt the changes to the church were biblical.

"I absolutely do. In the new testament church, there was a real sense of cooperation and working together, town by town, village by village, city by city."

Sydney-based Hillsong, with a membership of 21,000 and assets estimated at $150 million, is considered Australia's largest and wealthiest single congregation.

It has a television audience in the millions, and churches through Europe, but Garden City Christian is its first interstate campus in Australia.

Mr Houston said there were no plans for other interstate moves, but "I'm not saying we would never ever do another thing somewhere else," he said.

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