"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

By Ashley Boucher
November 04, 2020 08:38 PM
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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."

The megachurch's founder Brian Houston announced Carl'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 on Wednesday. "This action was not taken lightly and was done in the best interests of everyone, including Pastor Carl."

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."

Carl Lentz
| Credit: Shareif Ziyadat/WireImage

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

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, 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.

Justin Bieber, Carl Lentz in 2017
| Credit: Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images

"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," he 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 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.