After news broke on Wednesday that Hillsong church had fired him, Carl Lentz is speaking out for the first time and setting the record straight on what happened.
The mega-church pastor and one-time spiritual adviser to Justin Bieber took to Instagram on Thursday after it was announced that he was let go due to "moral failures."
"Our time at Hillsong NYC has come to an end," he said in the statement. "This is 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."
In his post, Lentz, 41, revealed he had cheated on his wife of 17 years, Laura Lentz.
"I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that," he added later. "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."
"When you accept the calling of being a pastor, you must live in such a way that it honors the mandate," he also said. "That it honors the church, and that it honors God. When that does not happen, a change needs to be made and has been made in this case to ensure that standard is upheld. Laura and I and our amazing children have given all that we have to serve and build this church and over the years I did not do an adequate job of protecting my own spirit, refilling my own soul and reaching out for the readily available help that is available. When you lead out of an empty place, you make choices that have real and painful consequences."
Described as a "contemporary Christian church," the church is known for attracting a number of celebrity worshippers including Bieber, his wife Hailey, and Kylie and Kendall Jenner. Hillsong was founded in 1983 in Sydney, Australia, and has grown to include locations in more than 20 countries. Its locations in the United States include New York, New Jersey, California, Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, Nevada, Texas, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Lentz, who was the lead pastor of the New York location, paired his statement on Thursday with a pic of his family, including his wife and three children Ava, Charlie and Roman. According to Religion News Service, he became pastor in 2010 after launching the mega-church's first U.S. location with Hillsong church global senior pastor Brian Houston's son, Joel.
"This action was not taken lightly and was done in the best interests of everyone, including Pastor Carl," Houston wrote when announcing Lentz's departure on Thursday, thanking Lentz and his wife for their work in the church.
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"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."
Lentz used his post to apologize to the followers of the church, as well as Houston.
"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," he said. "I would have liked to say this with my voice, to you, in person because you are owed that. 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."
"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."