The founder of Hillsong Church, Brian Houston, has said that he regrets not acting sooner to address the issues arising at Hillsong East Coast, which culminated in pastor Carl Lentz being fired for moral failures.
In an email to members, Houston said that Hillsong East Coast had "failed to reflect global Hillsong culture" and promised to work on changing the church's working environment after several damning reports emerged of staff and volunteers being treated poorly.
"Every Hillsong location must honour our commitment to creating a caring and healthy environment for our team, volunteers and members," Houston explained. "Under the previous pastor, this was not always the case. Serious concerns and incidents must never be ignored. When problems arise, proper and effective reporting mechanisms must be in place. And proper guidelines should be enforced. And when failings occur, especially among senior leaders, they must be addressed."
Houston said that while he wasn't aware of Lentz's affair until late last year, he regrets that he "did not deal with the leadership issue much earlier".
"I chose to trust at times when I should have taken more decisive action. I gave the benefit of the doubt when I shouldn't have," Houston said.
"Our global team is determined to reflect carefully on what we've learned and make any changes necessary, even difficult ones, to guarantee that all our leaders are held to the highest standard."
Houston announced the investigation back in November last year, shortly after firing Lentz for infidelity: "We are launching an independent investigation into the inner workings of Hillsong NYC/ East Coast. We need a solid foundation for a fresh start and new beginning," he tweeted at the time. "The best is yet to come."
Lentz has relocated to California with his family. He has not posted to Instagram since November 5th, when he admitted to having an affair: "I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that," he wrote at the time. "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."