Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz, Bieber's One-Time Spiritual Confidant: 'I Was Unfaithful' to My Wife

Nick Maslow
·5 min read

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

"I am very sad to inform you that Hillsong Church has terminated the employment of Pastor Carl Lentz," the church's founder Brian Houston said in a memo

Pastor Carl Lentz has revealed that he cheated on his wife of 17 years.

One day after the influential, celebrity-loved Hillsong Church announced the termination of Lentz due to "moral failures," Justin Bieber's one-time spiritual confidant addressed his departure in a lengthy Instagram post on Thursday.

"I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that," Lentz, 41, wrote in part alongside an image of him with his wife Laura and their three children. "This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions."

"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," he continued, going on to address his followers. "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," he added. "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."

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In a 2017 profile, the Associated Press reported that Lentz and Laura worked together in 2010 to establish the U.S. arm of Hillsong, which began in Sydney, Australia.

Marking their 15th wedding anniversary in September 2018, the pastor wrote on Instagram that he and Laura "only [had] one disagreement, ever."

"So much has changed, yet I can honestly say that @lauralentz still has the same easy laugh, the same consistent faith, the effortless grace and same ability to keep moving forward, regardless of what current chapter our lives may be in," Lentz added at the time.

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The megachurch's founder, Brian Houston, announced Lentz's termination on Wednesday.

"Today Hillsong Church East Coast advised our congregation that we have terminated the employment of Pastor Carl Lentz," Houston said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. "This action was not taken lightly and was done in the best interests of everyone, including Pastor Carl."

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

RELATED: PEOPLE Explains: What to Know About Justin Bieber's Church — and Hillsong's Star Pastor Carl Lentz

Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images Justin Bieber and Carl Lentz in 2017

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

Lentz — who did not respond to PEOPLE's requests for comment — 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, which was first to report the news of Carl's firing. He previously attended Hillsong College, the church's training program, which is where he met his wife Laura.

"While I have no doubt 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 said in the statement.

"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," Houston added. "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."

Carl Lentz/Instagram Laura and Carl Lentz

Lentz addressed his bonds with the church leadership in his Instagram post on Thursday.

"To our pastors Brian and Bobbie, thank you for allowing us to lead, allowing us to thrive and giving us room to have a voice that you have never stifled or tried to silence," he wrote. "Thank you for your grace and kindness especially in this season, as you have done so much to protect and love us through this. We, the Lentz family, don’t know what this next chapter will look like, but we will walk into it together very hopeful and grateful for the grace of God."

Shareif Ziyadat/WireImage Carl Lentz

He called his departure a "hard ending to what has been the most amazing, impacting and special chapter of our lives."

"Leading this church has been an honor in every sense of the word and it is impossible to articulate how much we have loved and will always love the amazing people in this church," Lentz added.

Lentz 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 Lentz 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.

Lentz was promoting Hillsong East Coast's online sermons on his Instagram in September.