On Wednesday, November 4, Hillsong Church Global Senior Pastor Brian Houston released a statement addressing the 41-year-old religious leader’s exit from the organization.
“Today Hillsong Church East Coast advised our congregation that we have terminated the employment of Pastor Carl Lentz. This action was not taken lightly and was done in the best interests of everyone, including Pastor Carl,” a post on the church’s website read. “This action has been taken following ongoing discussions in relation to leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures. It would not be appropriate for us to go into detail about the events that led to this decision. Our focus at this time is to honor God and pastorally care for our East Coast church community as well as the Lentz family.”
Though no specifics on Lentz’s apparent missteps were given, Houston, 66, thanked him for serving the Hillsong community “faithfully and sacrificially” over the years.
“In terminating his tenure, we in no way want to diminish the good work he did here,” the statement continued, noting that services at the East Coast branch of the church would “proceed as usual” in the wake of Lentz’s firing. “I appreciate the great team of people who serve here, and as we embark on the process of selecting new leadership, we are praying that God would bring about an exciting new season for our church and this region. Hillsong Church will not be making further public comments on this matter.”
Houston founded Hillsong in Sydney, Australia, in 1983, and the organization now exists in 28 countries across the globe. Celebrities like the “Baby” singer, 26, his wife, Hailey Bieber, Chris Pratt and Selena Gomez have attended services at the congregation in the past.
The “Purpose” crooner has turned to spirituality to help him through his many ups and downs. Lentz played an important role in Justin’s religious journey, even allowing the Canadian musician to move in with him and his family in New Jersey for a brief period of time.
“This boy is 21. He’s in a horribly toxic world,” Lentz told GQ in a December 2015 profile. “He is trying to do his best to figure this out. He has never been anybody but who he has professed to be, which is a work in progress.”
The pastor also reportedly helped Justin through his relationship with Gomez, 28, whom he dated on and off from 2010 to 2018. When the longtime couple ended things for good, the “Love Yourself” singer moved on with Hailey, 23, and the pair bonded over their shared religious beliefs and support of Hillsong’s teachings. The duo have tied the knot twice: first at a New York City courthouse in September 2018 and again in a traditional ceremony one year later.
“I think there’s a difference between being raised in church and then being an adult and having your own relationship with God … I feel like I’ve found my footing with spirituality and faith and church,” Hailey said of her connection to religion while speaking with Miley Cyrus earlier this year. “I’ve found a church community that works for me where I feel supported and loved and accepted.”
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