Hillsong Church Lead Pastor Brian Houston announced Thursday that an investigation is being launched into the New York City campus following the disqualification of Pastor Carl Lentz, who was fired for infidelity, among other issues.
Last week, it was revealed that Hillsong Church NYC pastor Carl Lentz had been relieved of his post due to a “moral failing” and “leadership issues.” Lentz admitted to his affair on Instagram, saying he had cheated on his wife, Laura.
“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.
Lentz was responsible for leading Hillsong campuses along the United States east coast and was known for his close friendships with celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Kylie Jenner, and Selena Gomez. After deciding to terminate Lentz as lead pastor, Houston informed congregants via email.
“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 wrote.
“Please understand that it would not be appropriate for us to go into detail about the events that led to this decision. However, you can be assured that this decision was made in order to honor God and pastorally care for you, our East Coast family, Pastor Carl and his family,” he added.
A 34-year-old fashion designer identified as Ranin claimed she was the woman whom Lentz had the affair with for approximately five months, before ending the relationship last week.
Ranin, who is a Muslim and of Palestinian descent, said Lentz approached her at Domino Park in Brooklyn earlier this year. She was not aware that he was a well-known pastor and didn’t find out until later in the relationship that he was married.
“I wasn’t there for just sex, we both found comfort and a deep, special connection with each other. I am very hurt because we both feel the same way about each other,” Ranin said. “We were obsessed with each other. He was like a drug to me. I was a drug to him.”
Boz Tchividjian, the executive director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), said his organization previously tried to alert attention to illicit actions taking place at Hillsong NYC but were unsuccessful.
“There have been many sexual transgressions at Hillsong NYC. We tried to address them in 2017 and we were told that we were spreading gossip,” Tchividjian said. “This is a common and effective method leaders use to shame victims into silence in order to protect offenders & institutional reputations.”