UPDATED 11/5, 5:15 p.m. ET: Carl Lentz revealed that he was fired from Hillsong because he cheated on his wife.
"I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that," he wrote in a lengthy Instagram post.
"This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions" Lentz added. "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.”
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Carl Lentz, a megachurch pastor known for running in celebrity circles, has been released from his position as lead pastor of Hillsong Church partially due to “moral failures.”
The megachurch’s founder Brian Houston shared the news on Wednesday. “Today Hillsong Church East Coast advised our congregation that we have terminated the employment of Pastor Carl Lentz,” Houston said, per People. “This action was not taken lightly and was done in the best interests of everyone, including Pastor Carl.”
Houston said that Lentz’s departure arrives following “ongoing discussions in relation to leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures.” He also said it would “not be appropriate” to reveal further details about Lentz’s firing.
Lentz had been a pastor at the Hillsong New York chapter since 2010 when he opened the church’s first U.S. location with Joel Houston. Lentz studied at Hillsong College, the church’s training program, where he met his wife Laura.
“While I have no doubt that this is the right course of action, I must mention Bobbie’s and my personal sadness, as we have known Laura her entire life and Carl for well over 20 years,” Houston said in the statement.
“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 continued. “They have a heart for people and we are confident that after a time of rest and restoration, God will use Carl in another way outside of Hillsong church. In terminating his tenure, we in no way want to diminish the good work he did here.”
Lentz has had close ties to a number of high-profile celebrities, including Justin Bieber, whom he famously baptized years ago. Bieber also lived with Lentz in New Jersey for some time in 2014, and the pastor helped counsel the Biebs during his relationship with Selena Gomez in 2017. It seems Bieber and Lentz had a falling out sometime in 2018, after Justin's engagement to now-wife Hailey Baldwin.