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Church News

Brian Houston names new pastors to replace Hillsong NYC's Carl Lentz following scandal

by Will Maule

The founder of Hillsong has announced the appointment of a new couple to lead Hillsong East Coast following the sudden ousting of former pastor Carl Lentz. Global senior pastor Brian Houston has named Chrishan and Danielle Jeyaratnam, who are currently the pastors of Hillsong in Perth, Australia, to replace Lentz after he was fired for immoral behaviour. 

The announcement comes after Houston emailed church members saying that an investigation into the inner workings of Hillsong East Coast had concluded and that the church had "failed to reflect Hillsong global culture" under Lentz's leadership.

"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." 

In a message broadcast from Hillsong's flagship 'Hills Campus' in Sydney, Houston talked briefly about the Lentz situation, before introducing the new pastors.

"I think everybody knows that it's been a very challenging season at Hillsong in the United States, in New York," he explained. "It has been hit hard, but I know God is gonna rebuild. He rescues, he restores, he rebuilds.

"During the process, we've not up till this point decided on Hillsong East Coast lead pastors. But we have now. It has been quite a process." 

After marking the announcement that the Jeyaratnams will be taking on the role, Houston said the couple had been "put through a heavy interview process to see if they are up to the job".

"They are," he added. "So, Hillsong New York, I believe we are sending you our absolute finest...their ability to love people...I feel like there's gonna be a lot of healing to come up there in New York City." 

Chrishan Jeyaratnam said was excited to be appointed to the role and hopes that God will "sweep that city with revival".

“We are so thrilled about what God can do," he said. 

Houston assured the couple that God was going to use them to bring health and healing to the congregation in the wake of the recent difficulties. 

"God's gonna use you to bring a lot of healing...to bring something that has not been healthy to a place of health," he said. 

Along with announcing the new pastors, Houston also suggested that a change might be afoot for him and his wife, Bobbi. The couple have led the church since its inception in 1983. 

"This year is our 38th year, since Bobbi and I started out," Houston explained. "I've been doing a lot of soul-searching and praying about the future and the way ahead."

He added: "Globally, we've grown so rapidly. We need to put a whole lot more structure into what we're doing globally. It's unsustainable for us to be able to lead everything that we're leading right now. I want to be looking at ways we can share that load. Over the next couple of years, I would like to put in place younger leaders here in Australia and around the globe."

Houston insisted that he wasn't planning on retiring any time soon. "We'll still being around, still be preaching, still be part of the team. But you know, we've got things in our hearts...we're heading towards our 70s...there's a whole lot of things we'd like to be doing. 

"Not putting any time on this. We're definitely not retiring. But I do think that it’s time for us to look at a whole new season, for us personally and for our church as well." 

Hillsong UK leaders to advise on global structures

Houston also announced that the leaders of Hillsong in the United Kingdom, Gary and Cathe Clark, will be assisting the wider Hillsong leadership as they continue to grow globally.

"I've asked Gary and Cathe specifically to help us with more the global side, the development of it and to invest into our pastors around the world," Houston said. 

Speaking to Brian and Bobbi on a video call, Clarke said he was "really looking forward to what is before us as a church".

"It's been a tough season," he added, "but I believe the best is in front of us".

 

 

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