Carl Lentz, a mega-church pastor and one-time spiritual adviser to singer Justin Bieber, was fired from Hillsong church in part due to “moral failures.”
Brian Houston, the founder of Hillsong, announced the termination in an online statement Wednesday.
“This action was not taken lightly and was done in the best interests of everyone, including Pastor Carl,” Houston wrote, thanking Lentz and his wife, Laura, for their work in the church.
“They have a heart for people and we are confident that after a time of rest and restoration, God will use Carl in another way outside of Hillsong church. In terminating his tenure, we in no way want to diminish the good work he did here,” he said.
Lentz, 41, was the lead pastor of the New York location. According to Religion News Service, he became pastor in 2010 after launching the mega-church’s first U.S. location with Houston’s son, Joel.
Houston did not reveal what led to the firing, saying in his statement that the decision was made “following ongoing discussions in relation to leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures.”
Lentz addressed his termination in an Instagram post on Thursday afternoon, saying he was unfaithful in his marriage.
“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,” he captioned a family photo that included his wife and children.
“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.”
Lentz said that he is on a “journey of rebuilding trust” with his wife and children and is seeking help.
“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, asking for forgiveness.
In the post, Lentz also reflected on his family’s time with the church, calling it the “most amazing, impacting and special chapter of our lives.”
Hillsong is known for attracting a number of celebrity worshippers including Bieber, his wife Hailey, and Kylie and Kendall Jenner, according to a 2017 GQ article. Lentz also baptized Bieber in NBA player Tyson Chandler’s bathtub.
Hillsong, which describes itself as a “contemporary Christian church,” was founded in 1983 in Sydney, Australia, and has grown to include locations in more than 20 countries. Its locations in the U.S. include New York, New Jersey, California, Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, Nevada, Texas, Connecticut and Massachusetts.