A high-ranking pastor at the celebrity-loved Hillsong mega-church was sensationally fired for alleged "breaches of trust" and "moral failings" – six years after baptizing his close friend Justin Bieber.
41-year-old Carl Lentz, who co-founded the New York branch of the Australian Church in 2010, has been fired by the organization's head Brian Houston, Hillsong confirmed in a statement released Wednesday.
"This action was taken following ongoing discussions about leadership issues and breaches of trust, and following a recent exposure of moral faults," said Houston. However, he claimed it was "inappropriate" to share further details about Lentz's alleged criminal offenses.
Mr. Houston added that this practice "was not carried out lightly and in the best interests of all, including Pastor Carl."
Carl Lentz, a pastor at the famed Hillsong mega-church, was fired by its founder – six years after baptizing his close friend Justin Bieber (seen together in 2017).
The 41-year-old, pictured with his Australian wife Laura, was charged with “breaches of trust” and “moral failure” in a Church statement
Lentz is said to have met Bieber back in 2008 when the pop star was only 14 years old, and the two formed a close friendship, with Lentz acting as a mentor for the singer
Lentz, who baptized Bieber in 2014, dropped out of university and attended a seminar in California before moving to Australia.
He enrolled in a Hillsong leadership course where he met his Australian wife, Laura. The couple have three children together.
The 41-year-old has become a Hillsong star himself with more than 678,000 Instagram followers, including Drake and NBA stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Lentz had a backlash earlier this year when he ignored large congregation boundaries to allow 200 entry into New York Church. He tested positive for COVID-19 in March.
Hillsong was made public when Justin Bieber was baptized Tyson Chandler by Lentz in a bath owned by an NBA player in 2014.
It played a central role in transforming his image from a partying man of women into a clear Christian devotee.
His wife, Hailey Baldwin, is also a believer and is often seen together in church.
Bieber and Lentz were inseparable during a trip to Australia in 2017, where they were spotted brunch together in swanky Sydney restaurants while the pop star was on tour
Lentz is now the father of three children and has described their relationship in the past as "regular friends who talk all the time". Pictured with rapper Lil Wayne
Hillsong founder Brian Houston (pictured) said it was "inappropriate" to give details of the events that led to the Church's decision
Other famous faces have followed suit, including Chris Pratt, Selena Gomez, Kylie and Kendall Jenner, and Kourtney Kardashian.
Bieber and Lentz were inseparable during a trip to Australia in 2017, where they were spotted brunch together in swanky Sydney restaurants while the pop star was on tour.
In an interview with the US edition of GQ in 2015, Lentz documented the moment when Bieber went down on his knees, "devastated by loss" and sobbed: "I want to get to know Jesus".
According to the magazine's report, the baptism ended with Bieber "wet and sobbing against Pastor Carl's chest … reborn".
The incredible moment seems to have cemented a close friendship between the two.
Lentz documented the moment when Bieber went down on his knees, "devastated by loss" and sobbed: "I want to get to know Jesus". Pictured with Lentz & # 39; son
Bieber's wife, Hailey Baldwin, is also a believer and is often seen together in church
Lentz has said that they first met when Bieber was a star back in 2008 when he was only 14 years old.
Lentz is now the father of three children and has described their relationship in the past as "regular friends who talk all the time".
He was quoted as saying, “When he's with me, he rolls with me.
"He's like a member of our team … He fits like a piece of furniture."
Lentz opened the New York branch of his church in 2011. He became known in the local media as a "rock star preacher" and also for introducing an alkali-based diet and fitness program.
Today the east coast of Hillsong Church announced to our ward that we have terminated Pastor Carl Lentz's employment. This action was not taken lightly and was carried out in the best interests of all, including Pastor Carl.
We thank Pastors Carl and Laura for the manner in which they have served faithfully and self-sacrificingly since the beginning of Hillsong NYC and for contributing so significantly to the countless lives that have been changed for Jesus Christ through this service.
You have a heart for people, and we are confident that after a period of rest and restoration outside Hillsong Church, God will use Carl in other ways. With the end of his term in office, we do not want to detract from the good work he has done here in any way.
This action was taken following ongoing discussions regarding leadership issues and breaches of trust, as well as a recent exposure of moral flaws.
It would not be appropriate for us to go into detail about the events that led to this decision. During this time we concentrate on honoring God and looking after our church on the east coast and the Lentz family.
While I have no doubt that this is the right course of action, I have to mention Bobbies and my personal sadness as we have known Laura her entire life and Carl for well over 20 years.
Hillsong east coast ministry and all of our ministries will continue as usual and we will continue to be a place of hope, love and faith through the powerful and transforming message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a message that our nation and the world need to hear more than ever at a time of such instability and uncertainty.
I appreciate the great team of people serving here, and as we embark on the process of selecting new leaders, we pray that God will bring about an exciting new season for our church and this region.
Hillsong Church will not make any further public comments on this matter.
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