Hillsong Church, the Australia-based network whose music is widely sung throughout the evangelical world, has announced that it is withdrawing from its parent organisation to become a denomination in its own right.
Founded by Brian and Bobbie Houston in 1983, it has been affiliated with Australian Christian Churches (ACC), the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God.
However, in a letter addressed the ACC network yesterday, Houston said Hillsong was withdrawing from the denomination. He stressed his debt to ACC and respect for its president Pastor Wayne Alcorn, saying he was 'doing a wonderful job in leading the movement, and I want to make it clear that we have no grief or dispute at all with the ACC'.
According to Eternity News, Alcorn has emailed ACC pastors saying:'"Recently Hillsong Church advised its desire for a change in its relationship with the ACC. In a way, this can be likened to a child who has grown up and now has a larger life outside the family home.'
Houston said the church's growth had led to it becoming a 'global church with an Australian base': 'Two thirds of the people attending Hillsong Church each weekend live in countries beyond Australia. We have pastoral staff in twenty-four nations around the world, representing 123 campuses and locations, with 263 different church services on any given weekend.'
He continued: 'So with that growing footprint in mind – it has become clear to us that we need to be able to credential our own pastors and restructure our church in a way that enables us to give due diligence to governance, risk, church health, safe church, and many other policies that are crucial to the future progress of Hillsong, globally.'
He concluded: 'It is my great hope that the church in Australia will continue to be healthy and unified, and that more Australians than ever will come to faith in Jesus. And it is my belief and my prayer that, by the grace of God, all our churches will continue to flourish and grow.'