UPDATE, 11/5/20, 3:29am ET: Carl Lentz confirmed that he was fired from Hillsong with a lengthy statement on Instagram, also confessing that he cheated on his wife. “Our time at Hillsong NYC has come to an end. This is a hard ending to what has been the most amazing, impacting and special chapter of our lives,” Carl wrote on November 5. “Leading this church has been an honor in every sense of the word and it is impossible to articulate how much we have loved and will always love the amazing people in this church. When you accept the calling of being a pastor, you must live in such a way that it honors the mandate. That it honors the church, and that it honors God.”
“When that does not happen, a change needs to be made and has been made in this case to ensure that standard is upheld,” he continued. “Laura and I and our amazing children have given all that we have to serve and build this church and over the years I did not do an adequate job of protecting my own spirit, refilling my own soul and reaching out for the readily available help that is available. When you lead out of an empty place, you make choices that have real and painful consequences. I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that. This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions.”
I now begin a journey of rebuilding trust with my wife, Laura and my children and taking real time to work on and heal my own life and seek out the help that I need,” Carl wrote. “I am deeply sorry for breaking the trust of many people who we have loved serving and understand that this news can be very hard and confusing for people to hear and process. I would have liked to say this with my voice, to you, in person because you are owed that. But that opportunity I will not have.
“So to those people, I pray you can forgive me and that over time I can live a life where trust is earned again. To our pastors Brian and Bobbie, thank you for allowing us to lead, allowing us to thrive and giving us room to have a voice that you have never stifled or tried to silence,” he wrote, concluding his statement. “Thank you for your grace and kindness especially in this season, as you have done so much to protect and love us through this. We, the Lentz family, don’t know what this next chapter will look like, but we will walk into it together very hopeful and grateful for the grace of God.”
ORIGINAL: Carl Lentz, a pastor at famed Hillsong Church who counts celebrities like Chris Pratt. among his congregants and friends, has been fired from the megachurch for “moral failures,” according to a statement from its founder, Brian Houston. He declined to go into details about what led to Lentz, once a close friend of Justin Bieber, leaving the church, only saying that it would “not be appropriate” to discuss publicly.
“Today Hillsong Church East Coast advised our congregation that we have terminated the employment of Pastor Carl Lentz,” Houston said in his November 5 statement. “This action was not taken lightly and was done in the best interests of everyone, including Pastor Carl.” There have been “ongoing discussions in relation to leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures,” Houston further noted.
Lentz has been the lead pastor at Hillsong’s New York City location since 2010, when he launched the church’s first US with Houston. He met his wife, Laura Lentz, at the church’s training program Hillsong College. Houston said in his statement that “we in no way want to diminish the good work he did here” by firing Lentz. “We thank Pastors Carl and Laura for the way they have served faithfully and sacrificially since the start of Hillsong NYC and for contributing so significantly to the countless lives that have been transformed for Jesus Christ through this ministry,” he stated.
Lentz runs in celebrity circles and was tight with Bieber for a number of years. He baptized the singer in 2015, and they lived together in New Jersey for a period of time in 2014. Lentz reportedly counseled Bieber on his relationship woes with Selena Gomez, as well. The two had a falling out in 2018. It’s unclear what led to their no longer speaking, which happened around the time Bieber got engaged to now-wife Hailey Baldwin.