Hillsong Church’s senior minister has announced that the church is launching a fresh investigation into Hillsong New York after allegations that staff at the church have used funds from giving on personal expenses.

He has also had to defend reports that Hillsong is being sued for $20 million.

According to The Christian Post, he stated in a letter sent to members: “I am writing to you today because of several stories circulating online alleging a serious abuse of trust — the misuse of church funds by Hillsong Church employees.

“We are particularly grieved that, in many cases, inaccurate accounts in these stories have been reported as if they are true. Hillsong Church strongly refutes that our culture casually allows for such gross misuse of church funds. In fact, these stories are especially troubling since Hillsong has a record of excellence in financial accountability globally and an unwavering commitment to financial integrity.”

In a report published last week in the New York Post, pastors and staff apparently freely used debit-like “PEX” — or pre-paid expense — cards for whatever their hearts desired, several former members and staff told The Post. The source of the funds was money donated or “tithed” by members, said former Hillsong LA service pastor Nicole Herman, who personally loaded the funds onto the PEX cards.

Pastor Houston, already reeling after having to deal with the Carl Lentz affair, where the high profile New York pastor was sacked and called for an investigation, now faces investigating the church’s finances. He has also had to defend recent reports the church is being sued for $20 million, tweeting, “If anyone out there is even interested. Hillsong is NOT being sued for 20 million dollars. This story is completely untrue.”

Herman claims that pastors, including Lentz, allegedly got their own Hillsong credit cards in addition to the PEX cards they handed out to their volunteers.

“I was instructed to fill them (PEX cards),” said Herman, who helped found the church’s California branch in 2013. “We had a team count the tithes after every service and they would allocate X amount of money for the PEX cards.” The PEX cards were reloadable and given to volunteers to make purchases for the church and pastors, said Herman, who left the church two years ago.

While the pair are now acrimoniously divorced, Herman’s former husband was the CFO of Hillsong LA, “so everything on the PEX cards had to be refilled through him,” she told The Post, confirming that “none of that money was coming from anywhere else” besides church tithes. Herman’s ex did not respond to a request for comment.

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