Hillsong launches investigation into alleged financial abuse

Brian Houston, Senior Global Pastor of Hillsong Church, said action would be taken if the review uncovered wrongdoingHillsong

Hillsong is investigating allegations of gross financial abuse by some of its pastors. 

It's the latest development in the fallout of New York City campus pastor Carl Lentz's firing last November for moral failures and leadership issues.

His firing sparked a wave of allegations against the Sydney-based Church, with some coming forward to allege that pastors splurged tithe money on lavish lifestyles and fine dining.

An investigation is already underway into the running of the NYC campus in the wake of Lentz's departure, but Hillsong Senior Pastor Brian Houston has now confirmed that a separate investigation is being launched into the allegations of financial abuse. 

"I am writing to you today because of several stories circulating online alleging a serious abuse of trust — the misuse of church funds by Hillsong Church employees," Houston said in a letter to the Hillsong family on Monday. 

"We are particularly grieved that, in many cases, inaccurate accounts in these stories have been reported as if they are true.

"Hillsong Church strongly refutes that our culture casually allows for such gross misuse of church funds.

"In fact, these stories are especially troubling since Hillsong has a record of excellence in financial accountability globally and an unwavering commitment to financial integrity." 

The launch of the investigation follows a report in The New York Post citing the claims of four former Hillsong Church members, including former Hillsong LA Service Pastor Nicole Herman, who alleged that tithe money was loaded onto pre-paid debit cards and spent by pastors on expensive restaurants, designer clothes and weekly manicures.

Houston said that the review would "closely examine" the claims and be followed up with action if necessary.

"Global leadership has always taken the stewardship of the tithes and offerings entrusted to us seriously and we have numerous structures in place to ensure financial accountability and integrity," he said.

"Even though we know many of the stories circulating are not true, we are still obligating ourselves to closely examine the claims in line with our ongoing commitment to financial integrity.

"We have always placed a high value on good governance and stewardship, and if we discover a breach related to this we will take strong and swift action. We have a biblical responsibility to be excellent stewards of the ministry funds that have been committed to our care at each of our church locations."