Celebrity pastor Carl Lentz has been terminated from his position at Christian megachurch Hillsong. Hillsong Church founder and Global Senior Pastor Brian Houston announced the news on Wednesday.
Lentz is known for his A-list friends, most notably Justin Bieber, whom he told GQ he baptized in 2015. Houston said in a statement that the decision to terminate Lentz -- who has been a pastor at Hillsong since 2010 -- was not taken lightly and was done in the best interests of everyone, including Lentz himself.
"This action has been taken following ongoing discussions in relation to leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures," the statement reads in part. "It would not be appropriate for us to go into detail about the events that led to this decision. Our focus at this time is to honor God and pastorally care for our East Coast church community as well as the Lentz family."
"We thank Pastors Carl and [his wife] Laura for the way they have served faithfully and sacrificially since the start of Hillsong NYC and for contributing so significantly to the countless lives that have been transformed for Jesus Christ through this ministry," the statement also reads. "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."
"People say we cater to celebrities, and I say, yes, we do," Lentz added at the time of Hillsong. "Celebrities deserve a relationship with God. Celebrities deserve a place to pray."
Meanwhile, Bieber told Vogue in a February 2019 joint interview with his wife, Hailey, that he turned to Lentz when he hit a low point in his life in 2014, moving into his New Jersey home for an informal detox while he interned for him at Hillsong and refocused on his religious faith.
"Love you @justinbieber ...you are a loyal friend, a kind hearted human being, a musical genius and continue to grow into a fantastic HUSBAND!" he wrote. "Congratulations to you and @haileybieber... Future is bright...."