Hillsong Pastor and Justin Bieber's One-Time Spiritual Confidant Carl Lentz Fired for 'Moral Failures'

Carl Lentz — a mega-church pastor known for his high profile celebrity followers and friends — has reportedly been fired from his position at Hillsong in part due to past "moral failures."

In a memo to the Hillsong East Coast congregation, the megachurch's founder Brian Houston announced Carl's termination on Wednesday.

"I am very sad to inform you that Hillsong Church has terminated the employment of Pastor Carl Lentz. 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, according to a screengrab of the email shared on Twitter and obtained by Religion News Service.

Houston added that Carl's firing comes after "ongoing discussions in relation to leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures."


The Hillsong founder added that it would "not be appropriate" to go into further detail about what led to Carl's departure from the church.

Hillsong and representatives for Carl did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment.

Carl has been a pastor at the New York location of Hillsong since 2010, when he launched the church's first U.S. location with Joel Houston, according to Religion News Service. He previously attended Hillsong College, the church's training program, which is where he met his wife Laura.

"While I have no doubt in my heart that this is the right course of action, I must mention Bobbie’s and my personal sadness, as we have known Laura her entire life and Carl for well over 20 years," Houston wrote in his memo Wednesday.

Carl is known for running in celebrity circles and notably baptized Justin Bieber years ago, according to a GQ profile published in 2015. Bieber also lived with Carl in New Jersey for a bit in 2014, and the pastor provided guidance to the pop star about his relationship with Selena Gomez in 2017, PEOPLE previously reported.

TMZ reported the following year that Bieber and Carl had had a falling out.

Carl was promoting Hillsong East Coast's online sermons on his Instagram in September and hasn't posted since sharing a shoutout to a friend on September 18.

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