Hillsong Church's fired pastor to the stars admits cheating on his wife

Christie D'Zurilla
·3 min read
Carl Lentz, a pastor who ministers to thousands at his Hillsong Church in New York, in a 2017 interview
Carl Lentz, shown in 2017, was fired Wednesday as a Hillsong Church pastor. (Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press)

Carl Lentz, a so-called pastor to the stars who baptized singer Justin Bieber in 2014, was fired Wednesday by Hillsong Church for reasons including what the megachurch called "moral failures."

On Thursday, Lentz apologized for cheating on his wife and letting down those who looked to him for spiritual leadership.

"This is a hard ending to what has been the most amazing, impacting and special chapter of our lives ...," he wrote on Instagram. "When you accept the calling of being a pastor, you must live in such a way that it honors the mandate. ... When that does not happen, a change needs to be made and has been made in this case to ensure that standard is upheld."

Lentz's departure was announced by the church Wednesday.

"This action was not taken lightly and was done in the best interests of everyone, including Pastor Carl," Hillsong founder Brian Houston said in a statement obtained by People. Houston noted that the decision came after "ongoing discussions in relation to leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures."

View this post on Instagram

Our time at HillsongNYC has come to an end. This is a hard ending to what has been the most amazing, impacting and special chapter of our lives. Leading this church has been an honor in every sense of the word and it is impossible to articulate how much we have loved and will always love the amazing people in this church. When you accept the calling of being a pastor, you must live in such a way that it honors the mandate. That it honors the church, and that it honors God. When that does not happen, a change needs to be made and has been made in this case to ensure that standard is upheld. 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. I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that. This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions. 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. To our pastors Brian and Bobbie, thank you for allowing us to lead, allowing us to thrive and giving us room to have a voice that you have never stifled or tried to silence. Thank you for your grace and kindness especially in this season, as you have done so much to protect and love us through this. We, the Lentz family, don’t know what this next chapter will look like, but we will walk into it together very hopeful and grateful for the grace of God..

A post shared by Carl Lentz (@carllentz) on Nov 5, 2020 at 12:12pm PST

In his Instagram post, Lentz admitted he had cheated on his wife, Laura. The Lentzes have two daughters and a son.

"[O]ver 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," he wrote.

"I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that. This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions."

Lentz explained that he and his wife are now starting a journey of "rebuilding trust." Other than that, he said, his family is uncertain what the future may hold.

"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," he wrote. "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."

Lentz helped open the Australia-born ministry's Hillsong East Coast branch in New York City in 2010.

His public profile climbed as the "cool church" pastor hobnobbed in recent years with celebrities including Bieber, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Austin Butler, Nick Jonas, Kevin Durant, Chris Pratt, Katherine Schwarzenegger, Bono, Hailee Steinfeld and various Kardashians and Jenners, among others.

Lentz baptized Bieber in 2014 in an NBA player's custom-built bathtub, he told GQ, and the two guys were best buds for years. Bieber even lived with Lentz's family for a month and a half. However, a falling-out in 2018 reportedly ended their friendship.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.