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Tulsa Church Cites 'Restoration', Hires Carl Lentz for First Staff Role Since Hillsong Implosion

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Former Hillsong East Coast Pastor Carl Lentz has been named to the staff of Transformation Church in Tulsa, Okla. 

Religion News Service (RNS) reports the church, a predominantly Black, nondenominational megachurch, is led by author and popular social media influencer Michael Todd and his wife Natalie. 

The church confirmed to KJRH-TV that Lentz has joined its church staff as a strategist. 

"After two years of Carl being in his own discovery and healing process, he has shown readiness to use his God-given gifts towards the local church again," Tammy McQuarters, the church's executive pastor of operations told KJRH. "We believe in Carl, his marriage, his skill set, and his restoration. We pray that Carl, Laura, and their family experience not only their own restoration but help others experience restoration by using their triumphs and failures to create resources for the body of Christ at large. We believe that this is part of what it looks like for the church to be the church."

A source close to Lentz also confirmed Lentz and his family had relocated to Tulsa, and had been attending Transformation, according to RNS. The source also said Lentz has launched his own consulting and coaching business, and his clients include churches. 

Tulsa was the right place for Lentz's family to "continue to heal and move forward," the source told the outlet. 

Founded in 1999, Transformation Church meets in Bixby, a Tulsa suburb, at the 4,500-seat SpiritBank Event Center, which the church owns, according to the RNS

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In November 2020, Lentz was fired from his position as lead pastor of the Hillsong East Coast church in Manhattan, New York for "moral failures" by Brian Houston, Hillsong's founding pastor. 

In the email obtained by CBN News, Houston indicated the reason for Lentz's termination as "leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures."

Just one day after his termination, Lentz broke his silence in an Instagram post admitting he "was unfaithful" in his marriage to his wife Laura, whom he married in 2003. He called his bond with his wife "the most important relationship in my life."

"This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions," Lentz wrote. "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."

Lentz and Houston's son Joel began the Hillsong East Coast church in Manhattan, New York in 2010, according to the RNS. The church is a part of Hillsong's global church network headquartered in Australia. Even though he was relatively unknown before becoming the leader of the NYC church, Lentz drew the attention of the national media for his hipster dress, tattoo-covered arms, and his celebrity contacts, including Justin Bieber.

As CBN News reported, Bieber was first baptized by Lentz in 2014. The Hillsong preacher talked about that unique moment during an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Since Lentz's firing, Hillsong has endured several additional high-profile scandals, including the one that led to the resignation of Australian founder Brian Houston

Following Houston's resignation, nine of the 16 US-based Hillsong churches reportedly left the global organization in 2022, according to The New York Times

Since leaving Hillsong, the Lentz family has mostly remained out of the public spotlight. But that will change on May 19, when the couple's first interviews since the firing will be telecast in the four-part docuseries The Secrets of Hillsong on the cable network FX, Variety reports.

The series will also feature interviews with former members and others connected to the Hillsong Church.

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of