Hillsong Founder Brian Houston Announces Investigation After New York Pastor Carl Lentz Fired


NEW YORK (RNS) – Brian Houston, global senior pastor for the Hillsong International Church, announced Thursday (November 12) that an independent investigator will examine the “inner workings” of the Hillsong New York branch after his dismissal. Senior Pastor, Carl Lentz, last week.“We need a solid foundation for a fresh start and a fresh start,” Houston said in un tweet, adding: “The best is yet to come. ”

On November 4, Houston emailed Hillsong East Coast staff and members about Lentz’s layoff. The email, which was obtained by Religion News Service, cited “leadership issues and breach of trust, as well as a recent revelation of moral failures” for Lentz’s dismissal, but did not disclose more details, saying it “would not be appropriate”. Houston later posted a similar statement on the church’s website.

Screenshot of Carl Lentz’s Instagram post

The next day, Lentz, who founded the New York site Hillsong in 2010 with Houston’s son Joel, admitted in an Instagram post that he had been “unfaithful to my wife.”

RELATED: Famous Pastor Carl Lentz, ousted from Hillsong NYC, confesses he was “unfaithful” to his wife

Lentz’s confession was accompanied by a photo of Lentz with his wife and three children. “I am now starting a confidence-building journey with my wife, Laura and children and am taking the real time to work and heal my own life and seek the help I need,” Lentz wrote.

Brian Houston and his wife, Bobbie, founded the original Hillsong Church in 1983 on the outskirts of Sydney, Australia. It now has sites in 28 countries and, before the pandemic, saw an average of 150,000 participants each week, according to its website.

The various world churches all report to Houston and to an all-male elders committee.

Relatively unknown before taking over as head of Hillsong NYC, Lentz has become a media darling for his hipster clothes, tattooed arms, and famous devotees, including Justin Bieber and his wife, Hailey Baldwin Bieber, as well as the Jenner sisters. Lentz was one of the many pastors that GQ Magazine described as “hypépriestes” who run churches frequented by celebrities.

In response to Lentz’s Instagram post, Esther Houston, wife of Joel Houston, suggested that despite her admission, Lentz’s behavior was “ongoing.”

“Amazing to see all the support for this despicable behavior going on,” she said in the comment. ” Listen. I will not play this game. I totally denounce it and find no excuse for it. You got a good hand and played it badly.

Screenshot of Instagram comment

British tabloid The Sun reported that Lentz posed as a sports agent when he met a 34-year-old designer, who only identified as Ranin, in a park in Brooklyn, New York. Ranin told The Sun that she had been having an affair with the pastor for five months.

Ranin said after a few dates she started to suspect he was married and asked. At that time, he admitted he had three children and had been married for 17 years. Later, she used his phone number to find out his last name and, at that point, found out that he was a pastor.

“My mind was blown away,” she told the tabloid.

Ranin said that Lentz told him that when he saw her for the first time, “God told him to tell me that I need to know my worth and that there is something special about me… anything.

According to Ranin, the two separated last week. She said Lentz’s wife discovered their text messages on her computer in the Hillsong office, along with several of her colleagues there.

Lentz met his wife, Laura, a family friend of Houston, in Australia when he attended Hillsong’s training program, Hillsong College. It is not known whether she will remain in her position at Hillsong NYC, although some reports indicate that she was also fired.

During a brief appearance on the Hillsong NYC Sunday streaming service, Brian Houston expressed his gratitude for the Manhattan church leadership team and said that they not only supported the decisions made, “but were part of the process ”.

Houston also noted that during transitions, “it’s always a time where there is speculation, rumor, and gossip when changes are made, and particularly when drastic changes are made.”

“There are great days to come,” Houston assured the church. “We will continue to stay in touch with regards to the long-term leadership of Hillsong East Coast.”

Boz Tchividjian, former prosecutor and founder of GRACE, an organization that works with churches to investigate abuse, city on Twitter, an anonymous source who alleged that “’There have been numerous sexual transgressions in Hillsong NYC. We tried to address them in 2017 and were told we were spreading gossip. ”

Tchividjian added, “This is a common and effective method that leaders use to shame victims and silence them in order to protect offenders and the reputation of institutions.”

Neither Hillsong NYC nor Hillsong Global immediately responded to requests for comment.

This is a breaking story and will be updated.


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