Hillsong founder Brian Houston made the announcement in an email to church members Wednesday, but did not elaborate much on what those transgressions were. He said Hillsong fired Lentz because of “leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures.”
Now Lentz, who lives in Upper Montclair with his family, says he cheated on his wife, Laura Lentz.
“I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that,” Lentz said in a lengthy Instagram post after he was fired.
Hillsong, which Brian and Bobbie Houston founded in a suburb of Sydney, Australia in 1983, has locations in 28 countries. Hillsong NYC held services in Manhattan and at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair.
The church, which uses Christian rock in its services and has its own music label, attracted a large audience of young worshippers. The tattooed Lentz, who preached in jeans and leather jackets, is known for ministering to a series of celebrities in his role.
Justin Bieber, who met Lentz in 2008, was known to stay at the pastor’s New Jersey home.
“(My daughters) have grown up with Justin,” Lentz told NJ Advance Media in 2017. “He’s just this guy. It’s normal for them.”
The pop star’s wife, model and TV personality Hailey Baldwin Bieber (daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin), has also been a member of the church since she was 16. Hailey’s friend’s Kylie and Kendall Jenner have been seen at services. Other Hillsong devotees linked to Lentz are Nets stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
Lentz, who turned 42 Friday, shared his admission of infidelity alongside a family photo showing him with Laura and their three children.
“Our time at HillsongNYC has come to an end,” he said. “This is a hard ending to what has been the most amazing, impacting and special chapter of our lives.”
Carl and Laura Lentz have both presided over Hillsong NYC since 2013. They met at Hillsong International Leadership College in Australia and married in 2003.
“When you accept the calling of being a pastor, you must live in such a way that it honors the mandate,” Carl continued in his Instagram post. He wrote the 2017 book “Own the Moment: How to Live a Spiritual Life in a Secular World.”
“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 said. “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.”
In addition to Irving, who grew up in West Orange, Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, who hail from Wyckoff, has been spotted at Hillsong services. Other celebrities linked to the Hillsong approach to Christianity include Chris Pratt.
“This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions,” Lentz said in his statement. “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.”
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Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at [email protected].