News, Culture & Society

Hillsong pastor Brian Houston’s daughter Laura Toggs supports dad as he quits

The daughter of Hillsong founder Brian Houston says she is suffering from ‘anguish, humiliation and crushing pain’ as her father resigns over alleged ‘indiscretions’.  

The Pentecostal church claimed Houston went into a women’s hotel room after drinking at a conference in 2019, and alleged he sent ‘inappropriate’ texts to another woman. 

Houston quit as the worldwide leader of the megachurch on Wednesday days after the church admitted he ‘broke its moral code’, but is yet to make any comment. 

His daughter Laura Toggs, 35, vowed to stand by her father despite the controversy, but admitted she had ‘a battered heart’. 

And in a series of posts on Instagram, Ms Toggs poured out her hurt while insisting she would try to rise above it.  

Laura Toggs, the daughter of Hillsong founder Brian Houston, (pictured) has revealed her ‘anguish, humiliation and crushing pain’ over her father’s scandalous indiscretions

Daughter Laura Toggs, 35, has now vowed to stand by her father despite the controversy rocking the Sydney megachurch - but admits she has 'a battered heart'

Daughter Laura Toggs, 35, has now vowed to stand by her father despite the controversy rocking the Sydney megachurch – but admits she has ‘a battered heart’

‘I choose to text my beloved dad ‘I love you’ a thousand times again – and I choose my bravest of brave mum,’ she wrote just before the resignation was confirmed.

‘When you have a platform, people grow from your suffering, because with a platform, you suffer out loud. When you grieve, you grieve in front of everybody.

‘When you hurt, you hurt in front of everybody. And there is no place to hide… and everyone inspects your wounds.

‘When you LOVE much, you grieve much, and there is no simple way around it. 

‘If we can be constantly humiliated publicly, then I am tempted to express my crushing pain publicly. 

Laura Togg's father Brian Houston confirmed his resignation in the early hours of Wednesday morning after details were revealed by the church last Friday

Laura Togg’s father Brian Houston confirmed his resignation in the early hours of Wednesday morning after details were revealed by the church last Friday

in a series of posts on Instagram, Laura Toggs poured out her hurt while insisting she would try to rise above it

in a series of posts on Instagram, Laura Toggs poured out her hurt while insisting she would try to rise above it

‘But today, yet again, I choose to lay my deep anguish at the feet of Jesus…and I choose coffee.

‘And as exhausting as it may be, I choose once again to take a higher road and keep my heart with utmost gentleness and humility and grace.’

After her father’s exit from the church he founded was confirmed, she reposted a poignant old Instagram post that vowed: ‘I won’t revel in the fall of others, I won’t laugh with the unkind…

‘Instead I’ll clear a path for mercy. I’ll stand for what is true. I’ll grace the earth with meekness. Til we’re all made whole, made new.’

She captioned the Instagram story, posted late at night: ‘I wrote this well, well, well before this same grace would need to be extended to my most beloveds.

‘I’m going to bed with a battered heart.’

After her father's exit from the church he founded was confirmed, she reposted a poignant old Instagram post

After her father’s exit from the church he founded was confirmed, she reposted a poignant old Instagram post

The church’s acting senior pastor Phil Dooley announced Houston’s resignation to the second emergency staff meeting in a week on Wednesday.

He said it was a time of ‘humble reflection’ for the church, which was founded in Sydney’s west and spread around the world. 

Houston submitted his resignation at 4am on Wednesday before a scheduled board meeting, Crikey reported.

The church had been investigating ‘two complaints made against Pastor Brian’ over the past 10 years. 

‘We would like to advise you that Pastor Brian Houston has resigned as global senior pastor of Hillsong Church and the board has accepted his resignation,’ Mr Dooley said in a statement. 

‘We understand there will be much emotion at this news and we all share these feelings.

‘We ask that you continue to pray for them and the entire Houston family during this challenging time.’ 

Hillsong founder Brian Houston stepped down in January from his role as the organisation's international leader (pictured with wife Bobbi)

Hillsong founder Brian Houston stepped down in January from his role as the organisation’s international leader (pictured with wife Bobbi) 

One complaint was made after a church employee claimed to have been sent ‘inappropriate’ texts, and the second was Mr Houston going into a woman’s hotel room in 2019 at a conference. 

Mr Dooley addressed the situation in a service streamed online on Sunday. 

‘I want to say we are sorry for anyone who has been a victim of any form of harassment,’ he said.

‘Some of us here… understand the pain because you have 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.’

The Hillsong Global Board said the two complaints were treated ‘extremely seriously’.

It added that previous statements, including when Mr Houston temporarily stepped down in January, had not been made out of confidentiality for both him and the two women while the matters were investigated. 

Mr Houston (pictured with wife Bobbi) sent inappropriate texts to a former employee and entered the hotel room of a guest after the 2019 Hillsong Conference, the board said

Mr Houston (pictured with wife Bobbi) sent inappropriate texts to a former employee and entered the hotel room of a guest after the 2019 Hillsong Conference, the board said 

‘The first issue was approximately a decade ago and involved inappropriate text messages from Pastor Brian to a member of staff, which subsequently resulted in the staff member resigning,’ the board said. 

The board explained Mr Houston was ‘under the influence of sleeping tablets, upon which he had developed a dependence’ when he sent the texts.

Mr Houston immediately apologised and sought professional help to end his dependency on the medication, the church claimed.

‘To this former staff member, we again apologise and would welcome the opportunity to provide further assistance if this is needed,’ the board said.

The second incident was when Mr Houston knocked on the hotel door of a female guest following the 2019 Hillsong Conference and came inside.

‘An in-depth investigation found that Pastor Brian became disoriented… following the consumption of anti-anxiety medication beyond the prescribed dose, mixed with alcohol,’ it said.

Mr Dooley previously said Mr Houston was in the room for 40 minutes and no allegations of assault were made by the woman. 

‘The board found that Brian had breached the Hillsong Pastor’s Code of Conduct,’ he said.

Hillsong's interim global leader Phil Dooley (pictured) apologised in an online service as the church's board issued an apology statement

Hillsong’s interim global leader Phil Dooley (pictured) apologised in an online service as the church’s board issued an apology statement 

‘The board also met a request for a refund of money donated to the church by this person… Pastor Brian was extremely remorseful and insisted on repaying the church for this.’

The board said after the most recent investigation, Mr Houston took ‘specific action, including stepping down from leadership for a period’.

‘However unfortunately he failed to take all of the agreed steps which resulted in further action being taken by the board in late 2021.

‘We apologise unreservedly to the people affected by Pastor Brian’s actions and commit to being available for any further assistance we can provide.’

The board said Hillsong was reviewing its governance to ensure higher levels of transparency and accountability. 

Hillsong was founded in 1983 in the Hills district of Sydney and has expanded to an international organisation with more then 100 churches and a global weekly attendance of 150,000. 

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk