As turmoil continues to engulf Hillsong founder and former senior pastor Brian Houston, his daughter Laura Toganivalu and her husband, Peter, are stepping down from their roles as pastors over the Hillsong Young and Free youth ministry.
Toganivalu, known affectionately by members as “The Toggsys,” bid the church they had known for over 30 years each good-bye when Hillsong’s new Global Senior Pastor Phil Dooley invited them on stage after making the announcement.
“We just wanted to honor a couple who are moving on from roles in our church,” Dooley said during the announcement. “They’ve been just a blessing over so many years.”
Dooley revealed that the couple had approached church leadership privately about their intent to separate from their Hillsong leadership positions.
“We are with you guys, whatever the choice is,” Dooley said to Peter after learning of their plans.
“If you feel there’s a season for you to step into that is outside of what we’re doing as Hillsong Church, we’re gonna cheer you on as well,” he added.
In a heartfelt and emotional good-bye to the church her father founded and pastored for decades, Laura shared with the congregation just how much they meant to the Toganivalu’s.
“All 36 years of my life have been spent in this house and I love you so deeply,” she said addressing the church.
“We are moving into a new season that we never imagined but we are so excited. This is about Pete and I stepping into our future and carving out a path that God has strategically called us to. We are so excited about that so thank you, keep us in your prayers. You will always be family to us,” she concluded.
Hillsong, as a church, community and organization are going through what can only be described as a difficult but necessary season, as the Toganivalu’s stated.
Changes had to be made in the wake of a list of accusations against Brian Houston and his father, Frank Houston. Healing must take place for that community which has been a blessing to the world despite the sins of leadership.
Millions of lives were changed with the Spirit-filled worship of from leaders such as Darlene Zschech and Brooke Ligertwood among many others throughout the years.
God can take this sad chapter in Hillsong’s history and turn the tables on the enemy who thinks that he has won and sunk the charismatic network of churches.
Pray for the restoration and healing of all those involved, and as the Toganivalu’s enter their new season, pray that they and all of Hillsong are given the strength, wisdom and grace to move into the next season God has for them with expectancy and joy for what the Lord has in store for His church.
James Lasher is Staff Writer for Charisma Media.
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