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Hillsong shuts down Dallas operations after pastors used church donations to fund their way of life

Hillsong is shutting down operations in Dallas amid a string of scandals that rocked the Australia-based mega-church, the church said on Saturday.

In an email to members, founders Brian and Bobbie Houston addressed the church’s investigation into former Dallas pastor Reed Bogard and his wife, Jess Bogard, who resigned in January after revelations that they were using donations to fund their luxury lifestyle.

Globally, religious leaders have faced a number of allegations over the years, ranging from sexual assault to revelations that former famous pastor Carl Lentz cheated on his wife for 17 years, while that other former Hillsong members have compared it to a “cult”.

The Houstons said Reed Bogard was suspended from “his pastoral duties” as the church investigated complaints from members that he had failed “to uphold Hillsong leadership standards. ‘

Brian and Bobbie Houston, co-founders of Hillsong Church, emailed members noting Dallas Church is closing

Reed and Jess Bogard are pictured after it was revealed that the Bogards and other church staff allegedly used <a class=donations from worshipers to fund their way of life” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

Reed and Jess Bogard are pictured after it was revealed that the Bogards and other church staff allegedly used donations from worshipers to fund their way of life

“At the start of our process, the Bogards decided to resign from Hillsong Church. We have accepted their resignations and recognized the time the Bogards have spent establishing our location in Dallas, ”the Houstons wrote in the email.

Houstons’ review is now complete after interviewing church members who asked the church not to reveal personal details.

“It was very disappointing to learn that while some of you have known the Bogards as dedicated pastors, many others have experienced leadership that did not live up to the commitments and standards of the Hillsong Church, ”the Houstons wrote.

“I want to be the first to apologize to those who have felt disappointed or hurt, and I pray that God will do a quick job of bringing peace and healing.”

The church then said it would understand if its members chose to attend local Dallas churches rather than watch Hillsong shows online.

In the email, the Houstons also blamed much of the reasoning for the Dallas shutdown on the coronavirus pandemic.

“As we established Hillsong Church in Dallas, the pandemic swept the world and quickly changed the shape of our growing church in the city,” the Houstons wrote.

The church added, “Many factors, all magnified by the pandemic, led to the difficult decision to suspend all operations at Hillsong Dallas at this time.”

In January, it was revealed that the Bogards and other church staff allegedly used donations from worshipers to fund their way of life by using the money to pay for luxury apartments, designer clothes, cars and restaurants.

Former church members told the New York Post how staff would use Prepaid Expense Cards (PEX) with funds from tithes.

The church is under increasing scrutiny after recent revelations that famous former pastor Carl Lentz, pictured in 2017, has been cheating on his wife for 17 years.

The church is under increasing scrutiny after recent revelations that famous former pastor Carl Lentz, pictured in 2017, has been cheating on his wife for 17 years.

View of the now closed Dallas Hillsong Church where pastors are said to have used donations from worshipers to fund their way of life

View of the now closed Dallas Hillsong Church where pastors are said to have used donations from worshipers to fund their way of life

Hillsong East Coast won nearly $ 13 million in 2019; 88 percent of this came from “tithes and offerings.” Over two-thirds of the money went to salaries, benefits and staff costs as well as operating costs.

Volunteers have previously accused the church of using them for manual labor and meeting the personal needs of its leaders.

Hillsong admitted in December that he was aware of “serious allegations” against the church in 2018 and “found some to be true.”

Former Los Angeles services pastor Nicole Herman told the Post that she was told to ‘fill in’ the cards, adding: “We had a team to count tithes after each service and they were allocating X amount of money for PEX cards. “

Megan Phalon said pastors

Jenna Babbitt, who said she donated thousands of dollars to the church, said she saw the cards used to buy gifts and stay in luxury hotels.

Megan Phalon, left, said pastors “bought four-wheeled ATVs” to roam the city. Jenna Babbitt, right, who said she donated thousands to the church, said she saw the cards used to buy gifts and stay in luxury hotels.

Another former New York worshiper, Jenna Babbitt, 27, said she received one of the cards to purchase items for Reed and Jess Bogard’s children, which she was babysitting.

Babbitt, who said he donated thousands of dollars to the church, said he saw the cards used to buy gifts and stay in luxury hotels.

She added, “I bought a designer purse and $ 100 or $ 200 worth of food from Dean & DeLuca for visiting pastors.”

Brandon Walker, 28, also worked with the Bogards in Texas.

He said he had seen Jess “lose over $ 1,000 for no reason” one day on clothes and dinner, adding, “There is no liability. Everything is a flex, everything is a show.

It is understood that no reimbursement protocol was in place for the money spent on the cards.

Hillsong Church was founded in Sydney in 1983 and has since grown into a global chain with locations in the US, UK and other countries.

Disgraced pastor Lentz entered a program in early December to treat mental health issues after his dismissal, at an outpatient facility specializing in “depression, anxiety and pastoral exhaustion,” according to People magazine.

Lenz was fired in November for having an affair but joined forces with his wife Laura, who also worked for the church before she was also fired.

The scandal appears to have impacted his relationship with Justin Bieber and his wife Hailey, as both ditched him on Instagram after spending a lot of time with him.

Lentz has also rubbed shoulders with other celebrities such as Drake, Vanessa Hudgens and various NBA stars.

He was seen soaking up the sun with his wife on Easter Sunday while wearing shorts with a short plaid shirt.

Church leaders have also faced recent allegations, including sexual assault.

Anna Crenshaw, now 23, told the Christian message this week that Jason Mays, a married staff administrator at Hillsong, assaulted her at some point before 2018, when she reported the incident.

Mays, the son of the church’s human resources manager, John Mays, pleaded guilty to “assault with an act of indecency” in 2019, according to the outlet.

In a statement Crenshaw made to Margaret Aghajanian, responsible for overseeing pastoral care at Hillsong Church, she said a friend of Mays’ friend encouraged her not to report the alleged incident.

‘Jason grabbed me, putting his hand between my legs and his head on my stomach and started kissing my stomach. I felt her arms and hands wrapped around my legs make contact with the inside of my thigh, butt and crotch, ”she wrote in the 2018 statement reviewed by the Christian Post.

“I felt like I couldn’t say anything about Jason’s incident because his friend said not to, insisting that he was a good guy and that he wasn’t a normal behavior for him. “

Crenshaw told the outlet that the treatment she received for Hillsong after coming up with her abuse allegations ruined her relationship with the church.

“I am not interested in supporting an organization that is ready to deal with abuse the way I have seen them deal with abuse. What happened with my relationship with Hillsong is that once I showed up to church, that’s when things started to go downhill, ”he said. she told the Christian Post.

“That’s when I saw how they dealt with the abuse, and it’s something I’m not prepared to overlook in my relationship with the church.”

Another former Hillsong pastor, Michael Guglielmucci, admitted to faking a cancer diagnosis in 2008 while receiving donations to help pay for his “treatments,” Vanity Show reported.

He then released a statement claiming he lied about cancer because he was addicted to pornography.


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