Carl Lentz, a prominent Christian pastor known for his celebrity connections and outspoken stance in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement, was sacked Wednesday from Hillsong East Coast, the New York branch of the international mega-church.
Brian Houston, the church’s senior pastor and global founder, said in a statement on the church’s website that Mr. Lentz’s termination followed discussions of “leadership issues and abuse of confidence, as well as a recent revelation of moral failures ”.
He declined to provide further details, saying it “would not be appropriate”. Hillsong and Mr. Lentz did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.
“This action was not taken lightly and was done in the best interests of everyone, including Pastor Carl,” Houston said in the statement, adding that Mr. Lentz’s termination was “without a doubt” the “right course of action”.
Mr. Lentz has been a rising star on the evangelical scene for years thanks in part to his many celebrity connections, which put him in the limelight as the church itself grew in size and popularity among youth.
One of those relationships was singer Justin Bieber, who, according to a 2015 GQ profile, briefly moved in with Mr. Lentz in 2014 and was baptized by the pastor in the tub at an NBA star’s home. in Manhattan.
Mr. Lentz’s Instagram account is dotted with celebrity photos and posts supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. In a September article, he defended his use of the phrase Black Lives Matter as being “perfectly reasonable and logical to say, no matter how many people try to convince you what to say one way or another.” that phrase makes you a supporting, anti-police, left-leaning Marxist. A loving, demonic and politically motivated liberal activist pseudo-warrior.
Hillsong has remained largely on the fringes of social battles, but in June, amid nationwide protests against racism and police violence, Mr. Houston said in an open letter to the church’s website that he was doing its part to see racism “eradicated”. The statement, and one on Mr Houston’s Instagram, followed comments from a pastor in the Hillsong section of the UK who rejected the protests.
Like other pastors who have partnered with celebrities, Mr Lentz also faced criticism that he was too enamored of their star power, and he was criticized for wearing expensive sneakers and clothing. Mr Lentz addressed these criticisms in his book, “Own the Moment”, saying he hoped to use the star power that came from his celebrity associations for “something redemptive and meaningful”.
Besides his celebrity connections, Mr. Lentz, a Virginia Beach native and former college basketball player, is also well known in sports circles. “I speak the same language as them,” he told Bleacher Report in 2015. “Basketball and life are so parallel; everything about a team dynamic is a dynamic of life.
Hillsong has grown widely since it opened in Sydney, Australia, in 1983. It now has churches in 30 countries including Brazil, France, Israel, Japan, Mexico and Russia, according to its website. In the United States alone, there are at least 10 churches spread across the country, from New York to Los Angeles. On average, 150,000 people around the world attend its services each week, he says.
In his statement on Wednesday, Mr. Houston thanked Mr. Lentz and his wife and fellow pastor, Laura, for their service to the church, adding that he and Bobbie, his wife and co-founder of the church, knew Mr. Slow down for more. over 20 years. “By terminating his mandate, we do not want in any way to diminish the good work he has done here,” he said.