Hillsong overhauls board in wake of scandals

A string of scandals have prompted big changes at Hillsong.

At an update meeting, it was revealed that the Global Board of the Sydney-based church is being overhauled.

Four former board members have transitioned out. They are Hillsong General Manager George Aghajanian, Hillsong UK leader Gary Clarke, property development company Hillscorp Executive Director Phillip Denton and Gloria Jean's Coffee Chairman Nabi Saleh.

Two additional departures from the board are International Ministry Director Darren Kitto and Benjamin Houston, son of founding pastor Brian Houston, who resigned earlier this year following accusations of indiscretions. Kitto and Houston both resigned from the board.

The remaining Global Board members are Tolu Badders, Hillsong NYC's chief operating officer and executive pastor, Sibo Nxumalo of Hillsong Africa, Russell Dacre of Hillsong UK and deputy board chair, Hillsong Interim Global Senior Pastor Phil Dooley and Hillsong Chairman Stephen Crouch.

Brian Houston previously acted as both chairman of the board and global senior pastor but the decision was made to appoint different people to each role to improve governance and accountability. 

During the meeting, plans were also announced to make the board more gender diverse, with 40 per cent of the members to be women. Badders is currently the only female on the board.

Hillsong has been working with Australian management consultants Insync in the wake of the scandals that first started unravelling in November 2020 with the firing of Hillsong NYC pastor Carl Lentz over adultery, "leadership issues" and "breaches of trust".

The global church has since been grappling with accusations of financial mismanagement, lavish spending, rape, sexual misconduct, and a culture of pandering to celebrities.

Commenting on the meeting, Dooley, who has been interim Global Senior Pastor since Brian Houston's resignation in March, said, "We are working hard to set a course for the future that ensures our structures are accountable, transparent, and honouring to God.

"Anything less has the potential to hinder our primary focus, which is to be a community of believers focused on the life-changing power of Jesus, driven to bring hope to the world around us.

"Last night was about oversight and church structure, which are important issues, but we must remember that these things matter in the context of our ultimate focus – serving Jesus and living for Him."