More Hillsong Pastors Resign as Justin Bieber Confirms He’s Left the Church

Video carl lentz and justin bieber

In case it wasn’t already obvious when Justin Bieber and his wife Hailey Baldwin unfollowed their former pastor Carl Lentz on Instagram in November, the pop star kicked off the new year by clearing up any ambiguity about his megachurch allegiances.

Amid Hillsong Church’s numerous ongoing scandals, the singer went on social media to continue distancing himself from his former place of worship and correct some false tabloid narratives about his career trajectory. On Monday, Bieber posted a screenshot of a Page Six headline from last week to his Instagram Stories, proclaiming that he’s “studying to be a minister for Hillsong church.” He wrote in all caps over the headline: “IM [sic] NOT STUDYING TO BE A MINISTER OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE TO THAT. HAVE NO DESIRE FOR THAT THIS IS FAKE NEWS,” followed by another story that read, “AND BTW HILLSONG IS NOT MY CHURCH.. FOR CLARITY I AM A PART OF CHURCHOME.” Churchome is another celebrity-beloved nondenominational megachurch that believes “that Jesus perfectly reveals the true heart of God.” Bieber also added that, “Church is not a place. We are the church. We don’t need a building to connect with god. God is with us wherever we are.”

Bieber’s public disavowal of his former congregation comes as even more high-profile pastors exit Hillsong. Two of the megachurch’s lead pastors from their Dallas branch, Reed Bogard and his wife Jess Bogard, made an announcement during their Sunday sermon, saying, “We just really feel that it’s time to transition off of our staff and take some time to remain healthy, get healthy, and to really see what this next season holds for us.” For more than a decade, the couple, who first met at Hillsong International Leadership College, had served in various staff roles at the church across three of its American branches, but they said the experience “has really taken a bit of a toll on Jess and I, on our family.” They gave no further explanation for their sudden departure.

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This announcement comes almost two months after Hillsong’s initial fall from grace following the firing of its most famous pastor, Carl Lentz, amid revelations that he was unfaithful in his marriage. After Lentz’s dismissal, the church also decided to put the NYC branch he oversaw under investigation. In a statement to Vanity Fair, Hillsong clarified that decision, explaining, “Since last week’s announcement of a leadership change at Hillsong East Coast, we have heard from a number of people about their experiences and concerns. It is important that we establish the truth and then do everything we can to ensure our church is both a safe place and one that seeks to glorify God in all that we say and do.”

In December, a 2018 letter from “high-level” volunteers came to light that claimed there were “verified, widely circulated stories of inappropriate sexual behavior amongst staff/interns” at the church. Hillsong confirmed the existence of this letter to Vanity Fair, adding that after a three-month inquiry into the claims, it learned that “some of the allegations were true.”

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