Carl Lentz, the former celebrity pastor known for his gospel messages at mega celebrity church, Hillsong, has admitted to cheating on his wife with their family nanny while at the helm of the U.S.-based ministry.
In a new FX docuseries, Lentz reveals the highs and lows that came with leading a successful congregation for nearly 10 years after Hillsong Church expanded from Australia into the United States.
Lentz grew Hillsong’s name and his mega church had celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, U2 singer Bono and Kourtney Kardashian as members.
Ten years into Lentz’s pastorship, he shared an Instagram post in November 2020 to admit that his family was leaving the church after he had been ‘unfaithful’ in his marriage with wife Laura.
He said himself, his wife and three children were leaving the church after he failed to do an adequate job of protecting my own spirit, refilling my own soul and reaching out for the readily available help that is available. LIB reports.
‘When you lead out of an empty place, you make choices that have real and painful consequences.’
The pastor was accused of having an affair with a woman named Ranin Karim.
Now, in a new trailer for ‘The Secrets of Hillsong,’ which releases Friday, May 19, Lentz said; ‘You do not want to be in this chair. I cannot stress it enough.’
‘I had some major lies,’ he said.
Then his wife, Laura, remembered when Carl revealed the truth about his extramarital affair.
He said, ‘I have been unfaithful,’ she said as pictures from their wedding day flashed before the screen.
During a video conference with Hillsong leaders prior to being fired – including Brian Houston who resigned in 2022 amid allegations of ‘inappropriate behavior’ toward two women Lentz was also reportedly asked about a relationship with their family nanny, Leona Kimes.
‘He hadn’t told me this part yet,’ Laura said in a preview of the docuseries via People magazine.
‘I’d sometimes get these little feelings. And then one night I found them in a compromising position. I was angry and I definitely freaked out.’
Laura remembered they ‘never talked’ about the situation again, but Lentz was fired one month later.
In July 2021, Kimes alleged sexual and emotional abuse by the pastor, although she did not name him. He also revealed allegations of sexual abuse as a child by a family friend.
Carl addressed the allegations in the docuseries: ‘I am responsible for allowing an inappropriate relationship to develop in my house with someone that worked for us,’ Lentz said, before adding ‘any notion of abuse is categorically false.’
‘There were mutual adult decisions made by two people who lied profusely, mainly to my wife. It’s an issue because I was a boss, this person was an employee. I’m responsible for that power dynamic and the management of it and the wisdom that goes with it, and I failed absolutely miserably.’
Almost two years after posting about the infidelity, Lentz broke his social media silence and shared that his family is ‘at peace and thanks to the grace of God we are together.’
He recently wrote that his entire focus the last three years has been ‘fighting for my wife and my kids. In order to do that, seeking sobriety and healing had to run parallel with those goals.’
The former pastor noted he is no longer in ministry but has since found a relationship with Jesus that he couldn’t have ‘from the pulpit.’