Carl Lentz, known as the celebrity pastor of Hillsong NYC, was terminated over leadership and moral issues, Brian Houston, the founder and Global Senior Pastor for Hillsong, announced.
In an online statement posted in Hillsong's website on Nov. 4, Houston said the decision to terminate Lentz's employment "was not taken lightly," adding that it "was done in the best interests of everyone," including the dismissed pastor himself.
Houston said the decision was made "following ongoing discussions in relation to leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures."
He refused to provide more details regarding the matter as it would be "inappropriate." Instead, the senior pastor said the church's current focus is to "honor God" and "pastorally care" for Lentz, his wife Laura, family, as well as Hillsong's East Coast community.
Houston said he and his wife Bobbie have known the controversial pastor for a long time - "well over 20 years." He also said they've known Laura "her entire life." He added that while they are personally sad at the current turn of events, he firmly believes that it is "the right course of action."
Lentz, known for reaching out to some celebrities such as Justin Bieber and his wife Hailey, Selena Gomez, and the Jenner sisters, recently admitted to being "unfaithful" to his wife, and said he is currently pursuing rebuilding their relationship.
"I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that," Lentz said in a recent Instagram post. "This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions."
The pastor explained that he is now on a "journey" to rebuild his relationships with and earn the trust of his wife and kids. He said he is taking the time to do that, and will also seek healing and the help that he needs for it.
Lentz also said he is "deeply sorry" for breaking people's trust, especially those they have served as spiritual leaders. He said he understands that the news will be confusing and difficult to accept, adding that while he wanted to be able to say all these things in person, he knows he will not be able to.
"So to those people, I pray you can forgive me and that over time I can live a life where trust is earned again," he said.
In his statement, Hillsong's Global Senior Pastor said that while the East Coast community's celebrity pastor won't be leading them anymore, all of the church branch's services and ministries will continue. He said the community will still be a place where people will be welcomed and given the "powerful and transforming message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
He then expressed appreciation for everyone who is working in Hillsong NYC, and added that while they are currently in the process of selecting new leaders for the church, he is praying for an "exciting new season" for the community and the region.