New Zealand-Australian Hillsong founder Brian Houston has announced his resignation from the church in light of internal investigations that found he had engaged in inappropriate conduct of “serious concern” with two women.

Houston is the founder of the global megachurch Hillsong, a church where celebrities like Justin Bieber and Carl Lentz have been known to worship.

The announcement of Houston’s resignation was made by the acting head of the church, Pastor Phil Dooley, in an emergency all-staff meeting today.

“We would like to advise you that Pastor Brian Houston has resigned as global senior pastor of Hillsong Church and the board has accepted his resignation,” the Hillsong website wrote in a statement on their website.

He continued: “We understand there will be much emotion at this news, and we all share these feelings. Irrespective of the circumstances around this, we can all agree that Brian and Bobbie have served God faithfully over many decades and that their ministry has resulted in millions of people across the world being impacted by the power, grace, and love of Jesus Christ.”

Hillsong started as a small church in Sydney in 1999, and has grown into a global brand with churches in 25 countries. The investigation into Houston was announced last week. The church board confirmed that they called a meeting with 800 staff members to share that they were investigating two complaints about inappropriate conduct involving Houston.

“We have sadly been dealing with two complaints made against Pastor Brian over the last 10 years,” the statement said, adding that the allegations included implications of prescription drugs and “inappropriate text messages”.

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“At the time, Pastor Brian was under the influence of sleeping tablets, upon which he had developed a dependence. He immediately apologised to the person. We also worked closely with Pastor Brian to ensure he received professional help to eliminate his dependency on this medication, and this was achieved successfully.”

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