Trigger warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault. Hillsong NYC was the place where normal people and celebrities could worship in devotion. The church developed that reputation with the help of pastor Carl Lentz who left the church after reports of infidelity. With the new documentary series The Secrets of Hillsong out, many people are asking where is Carl Lentz now?
Carl Lentz founded Hillsong NYC (a sector of a bigger institution founded by Brian Houston) where he baptized celebrities like Justin Bieber and was known as a “Hypepriest” for the way that he catered to the young crowd with his skinny jeans and v-necks. “People say we cater to celebrities,” Lentz told GQ. “And I say, yes, we do. Celebrities deserve a relationship with God. Celebrities deserve a place to pray.” It all came crashing down when Lentz’s infidelity was discovered and the church fired him for his “moral failures.”
So where is Carl Lentz now? Read more below to find out.
Where is Carl Lentz now?
Where is Carl Lentz now? After he got fired from Hillsong, Carl Lentz took up a desk job in Sarasota, Florida. In the documentary, he said that he wanted to “get off the grid” and later shows a film crew his desk at the gray-and-white office of an advertising firm. He joked, “I’ve been advertising the Gospel for quite a while.”
Other reports state that Lentz took up a job at Transformation Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “We gladly welcome Carl Lentz to our Transformation Church staff, helping TC with strategy as we continue to move forward in our vast vision,” the church’s executive pastor of operations told Religion News Service in an email.
A week before The Secrets of Hillsong premiered, Lentz posted on his Instagram, “For the last 3 years my entire focus has been fighting for my wife and my kids, my family has been my only priority. In order to do that, seeking sobriety and healing had to run parallel with those goals. Honestly, nothing else mattered. None of the noise, the lines, none of the half truths that were said about me and or us, mattered. All I wanted was to prove to my wife and kids that I could show up for them like I had never done before. Although we have a long way to go, with a lot of work, a lot of honesty and a lot of prayer, we have found ourselves in a beautiful, happy and deliberately honest place.”
He continued, “So much so that we not only celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary on may 5 but we got to do that in the purest way. Unfortunately that came with a lot of humiliation embarrassment and heartache.”
He continued, “And even though I’m at an amazing church that loves and supports us, I’m no longer in ministry. I’m not preaching, not overseeing people, my role is to help give perspective and insight where I can. I can also say what gives me joy and hope is knowing that what I have been through, what I have made it past can help so many others. I can do that in so many different ways, inside and outside the church. I’m not the first man to be in this situation and I won’t be the last, but I can promise you I’ll be the guy standing with his arms open wide for anyone who’s been on this path of destruction.”
The cheating scandal
On November 2020, Lentz was fired from Hillsong NYC. Brian Houston who was the church’s global senior and pastor at the time before his own scandals said that his termination was followed because of “leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures.”
In his Instagram post after his firing, Lentz wrote that he was “unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life.”
“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.”
His wife Laura Lentz was also fired from the church. Lentz had cheated on his wife with Ranin Karim. Karim told Vanity Fair, “I know what I got myself into, but at the same time I wanted to do the right thing and walk, walk away. I am not a monster.”
In The Secrets of Hillsong, Laura explained that she also found out that he was having an affair with their children’s nanny Leona Kimes, “One night I found them in a compromising position,” adding that she “ran into the room and shoved Carl and hit him, then I jumped on top of her and punched her.” Kimes stayed on as the Lentzes’ nanny for some time afterward.
In an open letter on the blog site Medium, Kimes accused Lentz of sexually abusing her, which Lentz denied. “During the years I spent serving them, I was subjected to manipulation, control, bullying, abuse of power, and sexual abuse,” she wrote. “Having told almost no one before this, I am just now able to share what I experienced in their home as the result of intense therapy.”
“I am responsible for allowing an inappropriate relationship to develop in my house with someone who worked for us,” Lentz said in the documentary. “Any notion of abuse is categorically false.” He continued, “My actions are my fault. What I’ve done is my fault, but where that thing started, I have no control over. I was a kid. We were not interested in blame shifting or responsibility deflection. We focus on my mistakes and the context for what transpired.”
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, free and confidential help is available. Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.
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