Internal Hillsong Memo Released Days Before Brian Houston’s Firing Claims He ‘Considered Himself Beyond Disciplinary Boundaries’
Four days before Brian Houston resigned from Hillsong church, John Mays, the church’s Head of People and Development, sent a scathing internal memo to the church’s senior board, blasting Houston’s leadership and insisting he must be fired, writing that Houston “considered himself beyond disciplinary boundaries.”
Mays also wrote “We have been led by a leader who considers himself above normal societal expectations in a range of areas including many which might be considered mandatory in nature,” according to a report from the Guardian.
In the internal documents, Mays pointed out that Houston defied them “without further recourse from those responsible for his discipline” and that “unfortunately, I believe this typifies the leadership that is foundational to many unhealthy people practices employed within our Church based on my observations over many years.”
At the time, it was revealed by Hillsong leadership that Houston was accused of committing indiscretions with two women and having a drinking problem, including getting drunk and spending nearly an hour in a woman’s hotel room in 2019. Houston would say he mixed alcohol with sleeping tablets and had no memory of the hotel room encounter, but that he just fell asleep and didn’t do anything improper.
Following this incident, Hillsong leaders commented “It was decided Brian should take three months off from ministry but unfortunately, he didn’t abide by that. He did conduct some ministry, I believe on three separate occasions… and he also did, as he would say, consume some alcohol.”
Mays considered the story of what happened in the hotel improbable at best, saying that his behavior was heaping stresses upon the board that were becoming more and more difficult to deal with, and that “these challenges would have been intensified on account of Brian’s strong, immovable, leadership disposition together with a distinct lack of personal accountability which has been allowed over many years”.
Mays recognized that their explanation to staff members of happened in that hotel room contained “obvious information gaps and anomalies.” He noted their story to staff was greeted with “skepticism and mistrust despite urgings to avoid gossip and talk to leadership about any concerns.”
I do not believe our employees have bought the narrative within the statement made in the staff meeting.
…One insulting example (of many) is that Brian lost his room key so knocked on the lady’s door, a detail he no doubt recalls despite memory loss during the following 40 minutes. Are we really asking our staff to accept such dribble and defend our Church with such?”
Mays also took aim at wife Bobbie Houston, who many felt was mistreated by the whole situation, saying that she was not innocent in this.
“I believe Bobbie in her capacity as Global Senior Pastor, paid accordingly, should also be accountable for her willingness to tolerate such behaviour and defiance on the part of her co-leader. I do not see her as a victim in this situation, she has a biblical, professional and corporate responsibility to ensure accountability.”