Australian Megachurch Founder with AOG Ties Found Guilty of Indecent Assault

The Roys Report [Chicago IL]

December 21, 2022

By Sarah Einselen

Australian televangelist John McMartin, a former megachurch pastor and denominational leader, has been found guilty of indecent assault, a letter from his former church states.

McMartin had been the New South Wales state president of Australian Christian Churches (ACC), formerly called the Assemblies of God in Australia. In that role, he testified to a government commission investigating institutional responses to child sexual abuse in 2014. He also testified during Hillsong founder Brian Houston’s trial this month.

Authorities charged McMartin in November 2020 over a “sexual incident” in 2013 with a 19-year-old member of his church, a letter from the leadership at Inspire Church stated.

The woman reportedly told police McMartin groped her at his home while his wife was out of the country. McMartin testified in his own defense, saying he gave the teen a massage, but denied touching her sexually. The trial judge found him guilty Tuesday, The Daily Telegraph reported. His sentencing is scheduled for March 2023.

McMartin founded Inspire Church in Liverpool and was senior pastor and CEO of the multi-site church near Sydney at the time of his arrest. He stepped down from his roles at Inspire Church shortly afterward, then resigned in October 2021, according to the church’s letter.

McMartin is no longer part of Inspire Church or its related entities, the letter indicated.

“We are sorry for all the hurt and pain this has caused to the woman, the families concerned, and to many other people in our congregation,” the letter from Inspire Church’s executive leaders, elders, and board stated.

An Inspire Church spokesman told The Roys Report (TRR) that Inspire Church’s board “is completely focused on a restructuring that will result in a church of the highest ethical standards with the earnest desire that our congregation can heal from the recent controversies and move forward, united in the glorification of God.”

Deep ties to Assemblies of God

McMartin was reportedly on the ACC’s New South Wales board for 26 years, and was the ACC New South Wales state president from 2008-2018—the same role Brian Houston’s father, Frank Houston, filled for most of the 1980s.

Early this month, McMartin was called on to testify during a special hearing in Australia over claims Brian Houston covered up his late father Frank’s sexual abuse. McMartin said during the hearing that he told Brian Houston about the alleged abuse in November 1999, News Corp Australia reported.

McMartin reportedly served on the national ACC board, too.

He founded Inspire Church in the 1980s as Liverpool Christian Life Centre, an Assemblies of God church. It is still a member of the ACC today.

McMartin’s sons, Luke and Brendan McMartin, followed him into ministry.

Brendan McMartin and his wife Melissa are senior pastors of Inspire Church Wagga, which was formerly a campus of the Inspire Church in Liverpool. It’s now a separate entity. He announced this week the church in Wagga will be renamed Together Church in 2023. He was also on the Wagga church’s board of directors until this year, but is no longer listed as a board member in Australian government nonprofit records.

Inspire Church in Liverpool brought Brendan McMartin in to lead the church, too, after his father’s arrest. Brendan stepped down from that role in August this year after a former parishioner accused him of sexual misconduct. The Liverpool church launched an internal investigation into the allegation against Brendan McMartin, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Luke McMartin and his wife are senior pastors of Exchange Church, and Luke McMartin also chairs the church’s board. The church was previously called Inspire Church Macarthur until after John McMartin’s arrest. It, too, was a campus of the Inspire Church in Liverpool but has since become a separate entity.

Exchange Church hosted Hillsong founder Brian Houston last month, according to since-deleted posts on the church’s Facebook page.

Julie Roys contributed to this report.