kubrawi People Carl Lentz, in first staff role from Hillsong, joins Transformation Church in Tulsa

Carl Lentz, in first staff role from Hillsong, joins Transformation Church in Tulsa

In this Oct. 23, 2017, photo, Carl Lentz, then pastor of Hillsong Church in New York, appears during an interview, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

(RNS) — Carl Lentz, the ousted pastor of Hillsong New York City, has reached out to the staff of Church of Transformationa predominantly black, nondenominational megachurch in Tulsa, Oklahoma, led by pastor, author, and popular YouTuber Michael Todd.

Transformation, a behemoth in a city teeming with megachurches, has confirmed that Lentz, who was fired from Hillsong in 2020 when an extramarital affair came to light, has joined its staff.

“It is with great pleasure that we welcome Carl Lentz to our Transformation Church staff, helping TC with strategy as we continue to advance our vast vision,” Tammy McQuarters, executive pastor of church operations, told Religion News. Service in an email on Monday (March 27).

A source close to Lentz also confirmed to RNS that Lentz and his family had moved to Tulsa and attended Transformation Church, although the source did not confirm that Lentz was on staff at the church. Lentz, according to the source, has launched a consulting and training business and his clients include churches.

Tulsa was the right place for Lentz’s family to “continue to heal and move forward,” the source said.

Pastor Michael Todd recently gave a sermon at Transformation Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. video screenshot

Lentz, 44, once labeled a “hyper-priest” by GQ Magazine Because of his fashionable attire and his ministry to NBA players and celebrities like Justin Bieber, he has been mostly silent since his firing, even as ongoing rumors and allegations have dogged him and his former church.

(That silence will end on May 19, with the release of an FX documentary series covering the Hillsong scandals and, it was announced Tuesday, the first interviews with Carl Lentz and his wife, Laura, since their firing.)

“After two years of Carl being in his own discovery and healing process, he has proven ready to use his God-given gifts toward the local church again. We believe in Carl, his marriage, his skill set and his restoration,” McQuarters said.

RELATED: 100 Years Later, Black Church Leaders Seek Reparations for Tulsa Massacre

McQuarters said the church’s vision to “represent God to the lost and found for their transformation into Christ” includes restoration. The two go “hand in hand,” she said, pointing to Scripture from the Book of Galatians that includes a message to “restore one another” after sin, mistakes and repentance.

“We are called to be a safe environment for people to evolve and transform,” he added.

Founded in 1999 in Tulsa’s historic Black Greenwood District, home of the city’s 1921 race massacre, Transformation Church now meets in the nearby suburb of Bixby at the 4,500-seat SpiritBank Event Center, owned by the church. The arena, purchased by Transformation in 2019 for $10.5 million, was one of the nearly $67 million in real estate the church has purchased in the area in the past four years.

Church of the Transformation in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Photo courtesy of Google Maps

Church of the Transformation in the Tulsa, Oklahoma suburb of Bixby. Photo courtesy of Google Maps

Todd and Transformation Church have become known in Tulsa for their community giving, which includes $200,000 for each of the three living survivors of the racial massacre, part of a $1 million donation delivered by the church to commemorate the tragedy on its centenary.

The North Carolina native, Lentz trained at Hillsong College in Sydney, Australia, before the Pentecostal powerhouse sent him to plant a Hillsong outpost in Manhattan in 2010. Dubbed Hillsong NYC, the church drew as many as 10,000 New Yorkers to its majority young. to their services at their peak. But since Lentz’s firing in November 2020, the New York City branch and Hillsong Global have been embroiled in parallel scandals, with revelations of indiscretions with women that resulted in the resignation of Hillsong’s founding pastor, Brian Houston, last year, as well as ongoing allegations of financial misconduct by the church.

Shortly after Lentz’s departure, Ranin Karim, a jewelry designer from Brooklyn, opened up about his relationship with Lentz on “Good Morning America.” A few months later, Lentz’s former nanny, Leona Kimes, filed allegations that Lentz had subjected her to “bullying, abuse of power, and sexual abuse,” which a legal representative for Lentz denied at the time. A leaked report, commissioned by Hillsong Global to investigate Hillsong’s East Coast leadership, painted a picture of a church leadership plagued by abuse, sexual misconduct and secrecy.

At Transformation Church, McQuarters said they are praying that Lentz and his family will experience restoration and, in turn, help others to do the same, “using their triumphs and failures to create resources for the body of Christ at large.”

“We think this is part of what it looks like for the church to be the church,” McQuarters said.

This story was updated to include the announcement of the FX docuseries.

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