Carl Lentz, a high-profile pastor at the charismatic Christian megachurch Hillsong East Coast who has known for his connections to Justin Bieber, has been fired from the church for what was described in a statement as “leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures.”
At press time a spokesperson for the global church known for weaving contemporary music into its services, had not returned requests for further comment. “We thank Pastors Carl and 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,” read the Wednesday (Nov. 4) statement from church founder Brian Houston.
“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,” continued the statement, which noted that no further public comment would be forthcoming. “It would not be appropriate for us to go into detail about the events that led to this decision.”
Lentz had been a pastor at the Manhattan Hillsong church since 2010 and famously baptized Bieber — whom the pastor referred to by the nickname “Buckaroo” — in the bathtub of New York Knicks star Tyson Chandler’s Manhattan home according to a 2015 GQ profile, which also noted that Bieber briefly moved in with Lentz in 2014.
“And that is an image that will stick with you, let me tell you: Justin Bieber, on his knees in Tyson Chandler’s bathtub, wet and sobbing against Pastor Carl’s chest, so unable to cope with being himself that he has to be born anew, he has to be declared someone entirely different, in order to make it through the night,” read the GQ profile.
The buff, tattooed Lentz had also been an outspoken Black Lives Matter supporter and frequently posted pictures of himself with celebrities, including Drake, Bieber and Lil Wayne. Lentz had faced criticism for his flashy style and ties to stars, which he addressed in his 2018 book Own the Moment: How to Live a Spiritual Life in a Secular World, in which he wrote that he hoped he could leverage the star power from his A-list connections to create “something redemptive and meaningful.”
At press time, it did not appear that Bieber, who reportedly had a falling out with Lentz in 2018, had reacted to the termination.