Hillsong London campus pastors resign after 12 years; new leaders announced

Robby and Jenny Lewis speak to the members of Hillsong Central London on Jan. 30, 2022. | YouTube/Hillsong Church UK

The lead pastors of Hillsong’s London campus, Robby and Jenny Lewis, have resigned after more than 12 years at the location. They have not stated the reason for their departure or their future plans. 

“I just want to say thank you to every single one of you — for the last 12.5 years — for everything that you have poured into me, all the encouragement, the love, allowing me to be part of your life,” Robby Lewis said at the end of the Jan. 30 service. “A number of years ago, I said, ‘I am who I am today because of all of you,’ and I absolutely mean that.”

The resignation was announced on the same Sunday in which Hillsong Global Senior Pastor Brian Houston stepped down for the time being as the head of the Australia-based global Evangelical church network as he fights criminal charges of allegedly covering up abuse allegations against his father. 

During the Jan. 30 service in Central London, Daniel and Jo Watson, who formerly served as youth pastors of the campus, were announced as the campus’s next pastors. 

“We are extremely excited,” Daniel Watson told the church. “We are extremely humbled to be given this honor, and following [the Lewises], we are thankful for everything [they’ve] done and the foundations that [they] have laid. We are excited to carry on.” 

The Watsons have been part of Hillsong Church for 10 years, according to the church’s website.

“Throughout the years as Youth and Young Adults Pastors, they have been able to establish a strong partnership with the Metropolitan Police, gaining their endorsement for all our youth and schools work, and advising the Mayor of London on various youth issues and the church,” the online bio reads. 

Archived snapshots of the campus’ website dating to Jan. 20 showed Ben Bluemel listed as assistant location pastor. He is no longer listed on the website. It’s unclear what his status at Hillsong Central London is at this time. 

The Christian Post reached out to Hillsong for comment on Lewis’ resignation and Bluemel’s status. A response is pending. Hillsong has over a dozen campuses in the United Kingdom. 

In recent years, some serious leadership problems have surfaced at Hillsong’s United States-based campuses. Hillsong East Coast was hit with financial and sexual scandals surrounding former pastor Carl Lentz and other leaders connected with Hillsong NYC.

Last April, Hillsong paused its Dallas campus after Pastors Reed and Jess Bogard resigned in January as they were being investigated for leadership failures and accused of overusing church expense cards

Houston, who helped found Hillsong in the suburbs of Sydney in 1983, stepped down on Jan. 30, saying he would remain absent for the rest of this year as he faces trial for allegedly concealing sex abuse committed by his father, Frank Houston, decades earlier.

“Last year, I … received unexpected news of charges against me that allege the concealing of information that may have been material to prosecute Frank Houston,” Houston told the church in a statement. “These allegations came as a shock to me, and it is my intention to vigorously defend them. So I have agreed to step aside from all ministry responsibilities until the end of the year.”

Last August, prosecutors charged Houston with one count of concealing a serious indictable offense by his father. Brian Houston is accused of failing to report allegations that his father sexually abused a young male in the 1970s to authorities after having been informed in 1999.

At the time, Brian Houston was the head of the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God. Frank Houston formerly served as the head of the Assemblies of God in New Zealand until 1971.

Houston founded the global church network in the suburbs of Sydney in 1983. Phil and Lucinda Dooley are new interim global pastors.

Another Hillsong resignation is that of Darnell Barrett, the former creative director of Hillsong Church Montclair in New Jersey. He was accused of sending explicit photos to a Hillsong volunteer. 

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