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Hillsong leaves parent organisation to form its own denomination

Hillsong Church lead Pastor and founder, Brian Houston. Photo: Janie Barrett

By Agencies

Hillsong Church has announced its intention to establish its own “international denomination” to credential pastors rather than remain under the umbrella of the Australian Christian Churches (ACC).

In a letter published on the church’s website released this week, Brian Houston, global senior pastor of Hillsong Church, said the decision followed “almost two years of prayerful discussion” with both Australian and global church boards and reflected on the now global nature of the church which has pastoral staff in 24 countries, 123 campuses and locations, and runs 263 church services a weekend.

“As Hillsong Church has continued to grow, we no longer see ourselves as an Australian church with a global footprint, but rather a global church with an Australian base…” he said, noting that the church’s global office is located in the US.

Houston said it had become clear that the church needed “to be able to credential our own pastors and restructure our church in a way that enables us to give due diligence to governance, risk, church health, safe church, and many other policies that are crucial to the future progress of Hillsong, globally”.

The church has already been registered with the Australian Department of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, as a “recognised denomination with the ability to credential pastors in our own right”, said Houston.

He said it was intended that the church would become an “associate church” in connection with the ACC, continuing to “lean in” to the organisation and support initiatives like conferences and missions while foregoing voting and other rights associated with full member churches and ordained ACC pastors.

“I believe wholeheartedly that Pastor Wayne Alcorn is doing a wonderful job in leading the movement, and I want to make it clear that we have no grief or dispute at all with the ACC,” he said in the letter.

In an accompanying letter written to ACC members, Wayne Alcorn, the ACC national president, said the move could be “likened to a child who has grown up and now has a larger life outside the family home”.

“May I emphasise that the relationship between Hillsong Church and ACC is strong,” he said. “The change in relationship has been facilitated by Hillsong’s global growth, rather than any disagreement.”

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