Hillsong explains reason for launching independent investigation into NYC branch after Carl Lentz firing 

Lead pastor of Hillsong Church, New York City, Carl Lentz worships at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Lead pastor of Hillsong Church, New York City, Carl Lentz worships at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. | Facebook

Hillsong said Friday that it decided to launch an independent investigation into Hillsong NYC and East Coast after hearing a number of concerns from people affiliated with those churches. 

"Since last week’s announcement of a leadership change at Hillsong East Coast, we have heard from a number of people about their experiences and concerns,” Hillsong said in a statement shared with The Christian Post. 

“It is important that we establish the truth and then do everything we can to ensure our church is both a safe place and one that seeks to glorify God in all that we say and do,” the church added. 

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Brian Houston, senior pastor of Hillsong worldwide, mentioned the investigation in a post on Twitter Thursday. 

"We are launching an independent investigation into the inner workings of Hillsong NYC/East Coast. We need a solid foundation for a fresh start and new beginning. The best is yet to come," Houston tweeted.

Hillsong further explained why an investigation was launched after additional details of Lentz's affair with a Muslim designer and actress were made public. 

“For this reason we have decided to appoint a New York based legal firm that is not associated or affiliated with Hillsong to conduct an in-depth review and investigation into all concerns and any wider cultural issues,” Hillsong added. 

“We are taking this extremely seriously and on the basis of this report, we will be better positioned to take whatever actions are deemed necessary to right the wrongs and see Hillsong East Coast move forward in a way that enables many more people to find hope in Jesus," the statement concluded.

Lentz is often pegged by mainstream media as being a celebrity pastor because some of his friends and congregants included A-list stars such as Justin and Hailey Bieber, Kevin Durant, Selena Gomez and Kylie Jenner, among others. He's also known for baptizing Justin Bieber in the bathtub of former New York Knicks player Tyson Chandler.

Lentz has been married to his wife, Laura, for 17 years and they have three children together. He admitted to the affair in an Instagram post shared publicly after he was fired from Hillsong.

Lentz wrote: “When you lead out of an empty place, you make choices that have real consequences. I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that. This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions.”

Hillsong’s founder, Houston, first announced Lentz's termination in an email to church staff and members of Hillsong East Coast on Nov. 4. 

“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, whose church has locations worldwide, wrote in the email.

He went on to say how much he and his wife appreciate Lentz and his wife and all of their work with Hillsong over the past decade.

In his post, Lentz said that he and his family gave all they had to serve and build Hillsong NYC over the years, but now he will focus on rebuilding his family. 

“I now begin a journey of rebuilding trust with my wife, Laura, and my children and taking real time to work on and heal my own life and seek out the help that I need,” Lentz said.

“I am deeply sorry for breaking the trust of many people who we have loved serving and understand that this news can be very hard and confusing for people to hear and process. I would have liked to say this with my voice, to you, in person because you are owed that. But that opportunity I will not have. So to those people, I pray you can forgive me and that over time I can live a life where trust is earned again."

Houston founded Hillsong along with his wife, Bobbie, in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia, in 1983. Known especially for their worship songs, the now-international ministry has locations in major cities on five continents.

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