Hillsong Church founding pastor Brian Houston insists that his Sydney-based megachurch has made “absolutely no change” in regard to its “stance on homosexuality and gay marriage,” after a critical blog post claimed that two engaged openly gay men were leading Hillsong NYC’s choir.
(Photo: The Christian Post)
“There has been absolutely no change to Hillsong Church’s stance on homosexuality and gay marriage,” Houston wrote on his Twitter account early Tuesday morning. The Hillsong Church Twitter account also tweeted his 140-character comment, but in Spanish.
Hours later, a “Hillsong Church statement by Senior Pastor Brian Houston” was published to the ministry’s website. In the statement, Houston challenges the recent blog post about two gay men who attend Hillsong’s NYC location.
“I wish to correct reports that Hillsong church has ‘an openly gay couple directing a choir’ at our New York City campus. Hillsong’s position on homosexuality and gay marriage has not changed and is consistent with Scripture. As I have stated previously, I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject. Several months ago when one of our choir directors made an unexpected public statement regarding his engagement to a man who sometimes sang in the choir, it was a complete surprise to us as well. It is my understanding that they have not been involved in an active leadership or ministry role since. That said, we still love them and acknowledge that they – like all of us – are on a journey, and our role as a church is to assist them on this journey with grace and compassion.”
The statement links to a blog post written by Houston also published Tuesday, in which the megachurch pastor explains that gays are welcome to attend, worship and “participate as a congregation member” at Hillsong churches. However, Houston adds that gay worshippers cannot “take an active leadership role.”
Houston states in this blog post, which is included in full at the end of this article:
“I also live by my own convictions, and hold to traditional Christian thought on gay lifestyles and gay marriage. I do believe God’s word is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman. The writings of the apostle Paul in scripture on the subject of homosexuality are also clear, as I have mentioned in previous public statements.
“Hillsong Church welcomes ALL people but does not affirm all lifestyles. Put clearly, we do not affirm a gay lifestyle and because of this we do not knowingly have actively gay people in positions of leadership, either paid or unpaid. I recognise this one statement alone is upsetting to people on both sides of this discussion, which points to the complexity of the issue for churches all over the world.”
Although he does not specifically note the apparently incorrect “reports,” Houston’s statement was most likely prompted by a blog post written by Geoffrey Grider, described on his SermonAudio.com profile as “a full-time minister of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ” who also “runs a successful web design company.” Grider, also identified as a street preacher, published his now viral blog post on Hillsong NYC’s openly gay and engaged members, Josh Canfield and Reed Kelly, on Sunday, Aug. 2.
(PHOTO: THE CHRISTIAN POST/SCOTT LIU)
Pastor Brian Houston of Hillsong Church looks on as Hillsong NYC pastor Carl Lentz speaks during a press conference on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014, at The Eventi Hotel in New York City. The press conference came on the occasion of the Hillsong Conference being held at Madison Square Garden from Oct. 16-18 in NYC.
In his post, shared more than 55,000 times via Facebook, Grider writes:
“Josh Canfield and Reed Kelly are a proudly-out homosexual couple who preach the gospel of the LGBT Agenda. They became ‘engaged’ last year and are planning a ‘wedding’ for sometime in 2016. They feel no conviction of any kind for the lifestyle they lead, and yet, shockingly, they are allowed to lead the worship choir during church services at Hillsong in New York City.”
(PHOTO: GOOGLE PLUS)
The sources that Grider points to to support his claims include a Jan. 29 Playbill article on Canfield that includes comments of his that were originally published in a December interview. In that interview, Canfield speaks about coming out of the closet at Hillsong NYC, and states that he is “one of their choir directors” and also sings on the worship team.
“I became truthful with my church. I’m a part of Hillsong NYC. I’m one of their choir directors. I also sing on their Worship team. They’ve been amazing as well,” Canfield said. “Nothing has changed there now that I’m completely out and with Reed. He sings in the choir as well. I found that being an honest person has actually come with a lot of benefits. People are more sincere with you, and you find out a lot more about other people when you become honest.”
The New York Times noted two months prior, in an October 2014 article suggesting that Houston had “shifted” on gay marriage, that “some of Hillsong’s churches appear to be open to gays and lesbians.” The article stated that Canfield and Kelly “worship and sing in the choir at Hillsong New York” and that “Canfield is a volunteer choir director at the church.”
Canfield, who tweeted in 2009 that he “sang with Hillsong London” and had “joined the Hillsong London singers,” apparently has been attending Hillsong NYC since mid-2011, less than a year after Lentz and Houston officially launched the popular megachurch.
Houston’s Tuesday statement on the resurfaced reports come less than a year after he engaged in a bit of damage control after taking issue with that same New York Times article, titled “Megachurch Pastor Signals Shift in Tone on Gay Marriage.”
Just off from testifying about confessed acts of child sex abuse committed by his father at an Australian commission and only hours before the launch of his Hillsong NYC Conference, Houston was hit with a deluge of questions during a meeting with the press. Most notably, Houston was pressed about the church’s stance on homosexuality.
During the press conference, Houston did not disclose Hillsong Church’s positions on same-sex marriage and homosexuality, but “emphasize that, for him, questions about his position on homosexuality were ‘too important to reduce’ down to a ‘yes or no answer in a media outlet,’ CP reported at the time.
Just a day later, Houston doubled back, apparently indignant at the Times report, and said in a statement shared with The Christian Post: “My personal view on the subject of homosexuality would line up with most traditionally held Christian views. I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject.”
Houston added that “at Hillsong, we don’t want to reduce the real issues in people’s lives to a sound bite. This — like many other issues, is a conversation the church needs to have and we are all on a journey as we grapple with the question of merging biblical truth with a changing world.”
“Traditional” Christians hold the view that the Apostle Paul’s writings in the Bible make the case that human sexuality is to be expressed in the confines of monogamous heterosexual marriage.
Pastor Lentz, who leads Hillsong NYC along with Houston’s son and Hillsong United frontman Joel Houston, has been vocal in the past about his refusal to publicly comment on homosexuality.
His church, which reportedly welcomes thousands of worshippers to weekly services, remains a popular spiritual community for celebrities like Justin Beiber and star athletes like Kevin Durant, both reportedly baptized by Lentz.
Lentz has said that he has gay friends and people whom he loves who are “right in the thick of that debate,” and for that reason has declined in more than one interview to go on the public record with this convictions regarding homosexuality and same-sex marriage. He has also expressed his vehement refusal to preach sexuality from the pulpit, saying in one interview: “I refuse to ostracize people any longer, I hate it. I think that there’s been so much hate, and so much bigotry and so much insensitivity, I’m done with that.”
“We have a lot of gay men and women in our church and I pray we always do,” Lentz said last June, six months before the Playbill article on Canfield and Kelly revealed that the engaged gay men, reportedly abstinent until their wedding day, are members of Hillsong NYC and have active roles in the church.”
While attitudes toward same-sex marriage have grown increasingly positive among the U.S. public, white Evangelicals and black and Hispanic Protestants have shown the most resistance to gay marriage among religious Americans, according to the Public Religion Research Institute.
Hillsong Church, founded by Brian and Bobbie Houston in Australia in 1983, has congregations in 14 countries and on five continents. The Pentecostal church, affiliated with the Australian Christian Churches, averages a global attendance “approaching 100,000 weekly,” according to its website.
Pastor Houston’s blog post is included below. It can aslo be read at Hillsong.com.
Hillsong Church senior pastor Brian Houston published a blog post entitled “Do I Love Gay People?” on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015.
Read more at Christianpost
Blog Editor’s Comments:
Seriously? The church has lost its mind
- The whole of the scripture from Genesis to Revelation attests to the immoral nature of the Homosexual ‘Gay’ life
- Paul wrote about the nature of the flesh, as did the rest of the NT Apostles – See Gal 6:6 – 8 ; Gal 5:16- 21; 1 Cor 6:11
- Being gay is no different from being a murderer, liar or a pedophile. The scripture doesn’t give an out or give acceptance to one group, just because it is in vogue or currently fashionable. The practice should stop.
- We do not welcome everyone, who is not willing to acknowledge the truth of their sinfulness and perverted natures, and are willing to address them.
- Repentance must be part of the gospel narrative
- The church is the body of Christ, not a club or organisation with wholesale acceptance.
- To be a saint is to be separated from the world’s views and attitudes.
- Truth is first place… Do our Billboards and welcome packs contain this important doctrine or is it just that God loves you?
- What is Brian’s job? It seems it is to run the church as a CEO, and he is happy staying away from doctrinal disputes or dissertation.
- Are these men humble sinners or religious pharisees?
- They are reportedly abstinent until their wedding day?
- It will still be sin after they are married!
- Brian may not have actively gay people in positions of leadership, but does he have actively gay people in his church? If so why?
- I know Jesus was welcoming, warm and compassionate, and merciful, but what does he say to the woman caught in adultery in John 8: — ‘go and sin no more’
- This is Brian’s way of dealing with an issue, a tweet, and a media release.
- He is running a corporation, not a church!
- This is Brian Houston’s way of gaining acceptance of this issue by way of the Trojan Horse strategy.
- Yes… God gives us free choice and will not override this. Most peoples freedom to choose will place them in Hell!
- Is Canfield still in the choir or not?
- God sent a Saviour yes, but to save us IN our sin, or to save us from our sin — Read Matt 1:21, John 3:16 – 18 (not just v 17)
I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures….. Some photos I could not post.