On Wednesday, November 4, New York’s prominent Hillsong Church announced to its congregation that former Lead Pastor Carl Lentz’s employment had been terminated. In a statement made that same day, Global Senior Pastor Brian Houston stated, “This action has been taken following ongoing discussions in relation to leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures,” Houston continued, “It would not be appropriate for us to go into detail about the events that led to this decision.”

Houston divulged the sadness he felt in deciding to let go of Lentz, who he has known for over 20 years, but assured the public that the decision was made in the best interests of everyone involved, including Lentz, in mind. Houston wrapped up his announcement by making it clear that Hillsong NYC would be issuing no further statements on the matter. 

justin bieber pastor carl lentz

Justin Bieber and Carl Lentz at a 2017 charity basketball game - Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images

Despite the vagueness of Houston’s announcement, this is not the first time Lentz has found himself at the center of controversy and speculation. Due to Hillsong being many famous people’s church of choice, Lentz has developed several celebrity connections over the years, including Carmelo Anthony, Jay-Z, and Kevin Durant, who he baptized in 2013. Hillsong is a Pentecostal church that has adopted a unique, youthful approach to religion. Some have found this to be an appealing aspect of the church, while others have felt something is more than a little off when it comes to the church and its operators, with Post Malone even once remarking that Justin Bieber had turned “real culty” and "super-religious" upon joining.