By Abimbola Ogunnaike
The former Hillsong pastor, Carl Lentz, who was known around the world for standing at the pulpit of a mega celebrity church, has made a confession that he cheated 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 its initial Australian roots into the United States via New York.
Lentz became an unexpected “rock star” pastor and grew Hillsong’s name through celebrity clientele alone. Justin Bieber was once a close friend, while Selena Gomez, U2 singer Bono and Kourtney Kardashian have each been spotted at a Hillsong location at one point.
Ten years into Lentz’s leadership, 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.
During the trailer for “The Secrets of Hillsong,” which releases Friday, Lentz relayed the message, “You do not want to be in this chair. I cannot stress it enough.” Cameras zoomed in on Lentz wearing two gold chain necklaces that featured a pendant of a heart and another with a cross.
“I had some major lies,” he said.
Lentz’s representatives did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. In his 2020 social media post, Lentz wrote that he, 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. When you lead out of an empty place, you make choices that have real and painful consequences.”
In the trailer, Lentz’s 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. The pastor was accused of having an affair with a woman named Ranin Karim.
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 segxwal and emotional abuse by the pastor, although she did not name him.
According to People, Lentz said in the upcoming episode that he “thought about vacating the planet” amid the scandal and the fallout from the famous church.
He also revealed allegations of segxwal 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.”
He noted, “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 that there’s a “long way to go, with a lot of work, a lot of honesty and a lot of prayer,” but Carl and Laura celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. He also added he is no longer in ministry but has since found a relationship with Jesus that he couldn’t have “from the pulpit.”