Hillsong pauses all Dallas operations amid claims of lavish spending

Reed and Jess Bogard(Photo: Hillsong)

It continues to be a challenging time for Hillsong Church as it suspends all operations at its Dallas branch. 

The decision was announced by senior pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston over the weekend, the Daily Mail reports, and follows an investigation into former leaders Reed Bogard and his wife Jess. 

The couple, who resigned from their positions at Hillsong Dallas in January, were accused of misusing church funds.

At the time the Bogards, both in their thirties, said they felt it was "time to transition off of our staff and take some time to remain healthy, get healthy and to really see what this next season holds for us."

But in their email to church members, the Houstons said Reed Bogard had been suspended from pastoral duties following complaints that he had failed to "uphold the standards of Hillsong leadership".

They also acknowledged some had been left hurt by their experience at Dallas, a relatively new branch only established in 2019.

"Early in our process, the Bogards decided to resign from Hillsong Church. We accepted their resignations and acknowledged the time that the Bogards spent establishing our Dallas location," the Houstons said. 

"It was very disappointing to learn that, while some of you experienced the Bogards as dedicated pastors, many others have experienced leadership that failed to meet the commitments and standards of Hillsong Church.

"I want to be the first to apologize to those who felt disappointed or hurt, and I pray that God does a swift work in bringing peace and healing."

In light of the investigation and the added challenges of the pandemic, the Houstons said Dallas operations were being suspended for the timebeing.

"As we were establishing Hillsong Church in Dallas, the pandemic swept across the globe and quickly changed the shape of our growing church in the city," the Houstons said.

"Many factors, all amplified by the pandemic, have resulted in the difficult decision to pause all operations at Hillsong Dallas for now."

The Bogards stepped down from Dallas leadership just two months after the high profile sacking of New York City lead pastor Carl Lentz for "leadership issues" and moral failures. 

Following his resignation, a New York City-based designer claimed she had had a months-long affair with Lentz. 

Then ex-Hillsong volunteers and staffers told The New York Post that tithe money was used to pay for expensive gifts, hotel stays, and food for pastors and guests. 

"The exploitation of free labor while these pastors are making bank is just crazy to me," said former Hillsong NYC volunteer Jenna Babbitt, who claims she spent months working without pay for the Bogards.

Brandon Walker, 28, who helped the Bogards plant Hillsong Dallas, told the New York Post he saw "a lot of toxic activity", and that sometimes Airbnbs were rented for guests costing $1,100 a night. 

"There was a lot of eating out, a lot of Airbnbs — very nice Airbnbs," he alleged.