Brian Houston, the founding pastor of the popular megachurch Hillsong, sent an e-mail to staff and members of the New York Hillsong East Coast on Wednesday that the branch’s senior pastor, Carl Lentz, has been dismissed with immediate effect.
The Religion News Service (RNS) responded today after receiving the e-mail, which allegedly stated that the reason for Carl Lentz’s dismissal was “leadership problems and breaches of trust, as well as a recent revelation of moral failure.
“I know this will come as a shock to you, but please know that this action was not taken lightly and in the best interest of everyone, including Pastor Carl,” Houston wrote in the e-mail, according to RNS. Houston did not provide any further details about the termination except to add that “the decision was made to honor God” and was done in the best interest of both the Church and Lentz.
Justin Bieber and his wife Hailey Baldwin Bieber were among the most popular members of the Hillsong outpost, and Lentz personally baptized Justin in the name Justin. In fact, the pastor had become so close to the famous couple that he even joined them on vacation. Bono, the Jenner sisters, Selena Gomez and Kevin Durant are among the other celebrities who have also visited the Hillsong East Coast. Another popular church for the celebrities is Zoe Church, adjacent to Hillsong, which is visited by Chris Pratt and Ashley Benson.
In 2010, 41-year-old Lentz began the Manhattan outpost of Hillsong with Houston’s son Joel. Wearing the latest fashions and covered with tattoos, Lentz struck a chord with the young, hip-looking Christians who filled his ministry. Irving Plaza is the scene of Sunday morning gatherings in Hillsong, which is also the look of the people inside. At night, it is a legendary music venue where concerts by artists like the Ramones and Iggy Pop have been held over the years.
As its exterior suggests, Lentz has shown some progressive views over the years. After being infected with the corona virus in the spring, he spoke openly about the need for a vaccine. This summer he appeared in an episode of the YouTube show “Unpleasant conversations with a black man”, which was seen by many people. During the conversation with host Emmanuel Acho, Lentz spoke at length about how churches too often spread hatred. He told Acho: “I think you could even say that churches could be one of the biggest spreaders of racist ideology in our country.
Brian and his wife Bobbie Houston founded the original Hillsong Church in Australia in 1983. Hillsong has sites in 28 countries around the world and has an average of 150,000 visitors per week in normal (also called pre-pandemic) times.