Hillsong Church refuted claims Saturday that it fired its co-founder, Bobbie Houston, by text message after she and her husband, founder Brian Houston, publicly shared communications she received about her termination.
Brian Houston, who resigned last month after the global church network revealed two misconduct allegations against him, accused the church of "losing its soul" after a church leader sent a text message to his wife about the severed relationship with the church.
Houston posted a screenshot of a text message on social media, and it reads, "Dear Bobbie, I wanted to text to let you know I will sending you an email shortly regarding your employment. Please let me know if you would like to talk about it or if you have questions."
The screenshot also carries Bobbie's response, in part: "... I don't even have words to express how cold and callous this has all become ..."
Brian said the message was regarding the termination of her employment.
"After 39 years of exemplary service and extraordinary faithfulness and fruitfulness, this is the communication Bobbie received from the Hillsong Church board as she is made redundant (effective immediately) through no choice of her own," he wrote.
"This just 3 weeks after she hosted her 26th year of Colour Conferences. (A total of 118 conferences around the world.) She has relentlessly served God and served people as she stood side by side with me for four decades leading Hillsong Church, faithful in the good times and the tough times alike," he continued.
"And we are supposed to act like this is all ok. It's not! Our beautiful church is losing its soul," he concluded.
Hillsong Church's global and Australian boards claimed in an email sent to church members on Saturday that the message was sent as a follow-up to discussions held with the Houstons late last month about Bobbie's future, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
"This required the board to initiate difficult and challenging conversations with Bobbie regarding the transition in her role as co-global senior pastor, given that Brian had resigned and was no longer working for Hillsong Church," the email said.
The message alerting Bobbie to the redundancy plan, it said, was sent out of "genuine care" and the "opportunity for further discussion."
"This has been interpreted and reported that the Hillsong board 'made her role redundant by text,' which is not correct. We are saddened by Brian's public response and hope that he and Bobbie will understand the heart behind the decisions that are being made."
Houston reportedly wrote an email to church members last month vowing that despite all the allegations facing him and other Hillsong pastors, the "best is yet to come" for Hillsong Church.
"I am so deeply sorry," Houston wrote in the email obtained by the Australian outlet Eternity News at the time.
"To those impacted directly by my actions, I am sorry for the pain I have caused you. To my wonderful, forgiving and gracious family who I love more than anything, I hate hurting you."