For some Christians, Hillsong Church was a name they knew and trusted for years. But that changed after Hillsong came under fire in November 2020 thanks to its New York City church pastor Carl Lentz getting fired for "moral failures," according to Hillsong founder Brian Houston, who released a statement shortly after.
Carl was thrust into the negative spotlight following years as a megachurch pastor who rubbed elbows with celebrities like Justin Bieber and Oprah. Now, people are curious — is Hillsong Church still open?
What happened at Hillsong Church?
First, it's important to get into why Hillsong is now so infamous. It may still be a beacon of light to some of those who follow the Christian faith, but to many others, it is seen as a church overwrought with greed and contradictions. In 2020, Carl was fired from his position as pastor after his infidelity in his marriage came to light.
However, that's not the only reason Hillsong is shrouded in shame. Discovery Plus's March 2022 docuseries Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed profiled "numerous ex-members of the church who have come forward to share harrowing allegations of the trauma, abuse, and financial and labor exploitation that created a culture of chaos within the church."
In January 2022, founder Brian Houston officially resigned from his positions within the church amid ongoing allegations that he tried to cover alleged child sexual abuse at the hands of his late father. Although he pled not guilty to covering it up (and is awaiting trial), Houston stepped down from his positions of power within Hillsong at a time when the church's name continued to be tarnished.
Is Hillsong Church still open?
Despite the ongoing issues within the church, Hillsong is still open. There are various Hillsong locations around the world including California New York City, Boston, and New Jersey. You can use the "find a church" feature on the Hillsong website to find a location near you.
Or, if there isn't one, the church is active online to provide remote sermons to everyone who isn't able to attend in-person services. Despite allegations against multiple members of the church, it continues to operate.
Who is in 'Hillsong: A Megachurch Exposed'?
The Discovery Plus docuseries about Hillsong features interviews with Ranin Karim, the woman who had an affair with Carl, and Jaclyn Hayes and Janice Lagata, who both worked under Carl and can attest to the cult-like mentality they experienced with him as a pastor.
Executive producer Dan Johnstone told Variety in March 2022 that he discovered Hillsong Church to be "a cultural phenomenon" that "crossed over from religious culture into pop culture." He also explained that he wanted to tell the story of the church itself and the impact it left on those within it.
"It was explaining the superstructure of the church and their success story, and then this emotional story underneath that just came about as I was researching and talking to people," Dan told the outlet.
And whether you know a ton about the scandals or you're just fascinated by the culture surrounding a megachurch of this magnitude, there are three parts of the docuseries to get through as the story unfolds.
Another docuseries, 'The Secrets of Hillsong,' tells the church's story through Carl Lentz's eyes.
FX released a four-part docuseries in May 2023 titled The Secrets of Hillsong. The documentary not only deep dives into the scandals the church has been associated with but also features interviews with former pastor Carl Lentz and his wife, Laura Lentz.
The Secrets of Hillsong also features "poignant conversations with many of the congregants" as the church "faces a rash of fresh revelations."