Celebrity pastor Carl Lentz, who gained notoriety for his spiritual ties to pop singer Justin Bieber, has been fired from his position at Hillsong Church for “moral failures.”
Lentz was terminated from his position as the lead pastor at Hillsong NYC, when the megachurch released a statement on their website notifying the congregation on Wednesday.
“This action has been taken following ongoing discussions in relation to leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures,” Global Senior Pastor Brian Houston announced.
Houston founded Hillsong in Sydney, Australia with his wife Bobbie in 1983. Today the church is established in 28 countries and has a weekly attendance of 150,000 congregants worldwide.
Hillsong became known as the first “genuinely cool church” when celebrities started flocking to their “rock concert” style services. Kevin Durant, Selena Gomez, Nick Jonas, Chris Pratt, and the Jenner sisters have reportedly attended.
Pastor Lentz gained notoriety in 2014 when he took a spiraling Justin Bieber under his wing and baptized him into a faithful family man. “People say we cater to celebrities, and I say, yes, we do. Celebrities deserve a relationship with God. Celebrities deserve a place to pray,” Lentz said in a 2015 interview.
The pastor’s downfall appears to correlate to his status as a “hipster heartthrob,” as Lentz himself confirmed his separation from the church was due to infidelity.
“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,” he posted to Instagram.
“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,” he stated. “When you lead out of an empty place, you make choices that have real and painful consequences.”
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Our time at HillsongNYC has come to an end. This is a hard ending to what has been the most amazing, impacting and special chapter of our lives. 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. 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. 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. 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..