The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away — Carl Lentz’ job.
The celebrity churchman, who famously baptized Justin Bieber in a bathtub at the home of Knicks player Tyler Chandler in 2015, has reportedly been let go from the ministry over alleged “breaches of trust” and “moral failures.”
In an email to church members obtained by Religion News Service, Hillsong’s founding pastor Brian Houston cited “leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures” as reasons for terminating the so-called “hypepriest” from his elevated position at the star-studded megachurch, which began in Australia in 1983. The house of worship has since established some 80 churches worldwide, in Los Angeles, London, Paris, Sao Paulo, Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro and Phoenix.
“I know this will come as a shock to you, but please know that this action was not taken lightly and was done in the best interests of everyone, including Pastor Carl,” Houston wrote to the global Hillsong congregation, a reported 150,000 members, on Wednesday.
“Please understand that it would not be appropriate for us to go into detail about the events that led to this decision. However you can be assured that this decision was made in order to honor God and pastorally care for you, our East Coast family, Pastor Carl and his family,” Houston continued.
Lentz, 41, alongside Pastor Houston’s son, Joel, helmed Hillsong’s first US-based fellowship in 2010, with sermons broadcast from Irving Plaza, a 1,200-seat concert hall in the toney Gramercy neighborhood of Manhattan. Worshippers were known to line-up on Sunday mornings, hoping to make the cut inside.
Later services would be moved to the 9,000-seat Hammerstein Ballroom in Midtown to accommodate the ministry’s popularity.
With support from a few bold name churchgoers, such as Bieber and Hailey Baldwin, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Chris Pratt, Nick Jonas, Kevin Durant and Vanessa Hudgens, Lentz’s own profile soared. The heavily tattooed pastor with a penchant for designer clothing and Jeffrey Dahmer-style glasses would prompt much public intrigue into the idiosyncratic ministry.
In an interview with Lentz in 2018, he told The Post, “Any good party, you’re going to invite friends to. That goes for famous people, too.”
The Post again reached out to a representative for Lentz, who did not respond to our request for comment on his termination.
In a statement published on Hillsong’s website, Houston added praise for Lentz and his wife, Laura, a fellow minister whom he met while attending Hillsong’s minister training program in Australia.
“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.
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