(Religion Unplugged) — Hillsong’s latest annual report reveals the megachurch is bringing in $17 million less in revenue compared to two years ago — that’s a drop of almost 20%, due at least in part to a series of controversies. Additionally, the document claims the church experienced a $1.2 million loss in total comprehensive income in 2020 compared to a $4.1 million loss in 2021 — an 89% drop.
The decline comes as former leader and founder Brian Houston faces charges of covering up his late father’s alleged sex crimes.
Houston has vowed to fight the charges, which are expected to be heard in a Sydney court this December. He has yet to enter a plea but has indicated he will plead not guilty.
The church also denies claims of “fraudulent and unethical” behavior in a defense filed to the Federal Court of Australia. Hillsong is also entangled in a fair work case filed by former employee Natalie Moses, who alleges the church unjustly suspended her from her finance department position after repeatedly expressing concerns about financial misconduct and questionable expenditures inside Hillsong. Additionally, there are accusations Houston, who has been married to his wife Bobbie for 45 years, sent inappropriate texts to a staff member, struggled with sleeping pill dependency and, in a drunken stupor, accidentally spent 40 minutes alone in a hotel room with a woman in 2019.
The Hillsong Church annual report shows a revenue of $76 million in 2021, down from $87 million in 2020 and $93 million in 2019.
According to the statement, the church, which is also being investigated by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, has reserved over $35 million in “accumulated funds.” The funds grew to a $6.8 million increase in 2020, and while it only gained just over $500,000 in 2021, it has maintained over $35 million since 2020.
Ernst and Young partner Anthony Jones signed off on the report, which covers the year ending Dec. 31, 2021.
In the forward, interim Global Senior Pastor Phil Dooley wrote, “Hillsong Church is working through a historic transition. While there is opportunity and new vision, there will be change and challenge, so we press forward with God’s grace.”
Phil and Lucinda Dooley, who live in Cape Town, South Africa, admitted it had not been an easy season for the church: “We’re navigating the most significant change in our church’s history — transitioning from the leadership of our founding pastors.”
Dooley continued in the forward, “This has been a time of asking some tough but necessary questions in order to be more effective in all we’re called to do and be.”
Houston started Hillsong in Sydney in 1983. It is affiliated with the Pentecostal network of Australian Christian Churches and boasts 30 locations worldwide, with an average global attendance of 150,000 weekly.
He resigned from Hillsong in March after an investigation into accusations of covering up his father’s alleged abuse.
This piece originally appeared at MinistryWatch. Jessica Eturralde is a military wife of 18 years and mother of three who serves as a freelance writer, TV host, and filmmaker. Bylines include Yahoo, Huffington Post, OC16TV.