After news that Grammy-winning gospel singer Israel Houghton was now in a relationship with mainstream artist Adrienne Bailon, tabloid reports claimed that he was fired from his position as worship leader at Pastor Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston. The singer, however, took to social media to debunk those claims.
"I truly love @joelosteen & my gracious Lakewood family. Here is their official statement. I have not been fired. Treasure of my heart & of my soul. In my weakness You are merciful. Redeemer of my past & present wrongs. Holder of my future days to come...," Houghton posted on Facebook along with a link to Lakewood's official statement concerning him.
Houghton served as lead worship leader at the Houston-based megachurch for many years and has since become a leading name in Christian music. Although he will not be leading at the church during this time, the megachurch says he was not fired.
"We can confirm that Israel is on indefinite leave, but it is important to clarify that we still consider Israel to be a part of the Lakewood family and that his employment has not been terminated," Lakewood Church said Thursday in a statement.
Just weeks after publicly announcing his official divorce after 20 years of marriage, Houghton was forced to publicly confirm his new relationship with singer and TV host Bailon because the two were photographed vacationing together in Tulum, Mexico.
According to photos published by TMZ and HipHollywood, the 44-year-old, multi-Grammy Award winner was seen with Bailon as she flaunted her curvy beach body. See photos HERE. Just hours after the allegations and onslaught of online attacks, Houghton addressed the rumors.
Read his Facebook post in its entirety below:
"In the midst of all that's going on in the world... Suffering, terrorism, deciding a future for our country, and making the world safer; It is sad that I am even having to address this matter... I understand that gossip and salacious untrue speculative stories are far more interesting and entertaining than the truth & facts. But, it's incredibly unfair to allow someone to carry the burden, blame & shame of something they had nothing to do with...
I met Adrienne Bailon a bit over 2 years ago, we worked together & became friends... Our circles connected & we remained good friends. From a friendship, as two single adults we have very recently begun to explore a dating relationship.
As I previously wrote in a statement I released a while back, My marriage had been over for quite some time before going public with my divorce announcement.
Where I shared, or as some have pointed out 'over-shared' my failure in my marriage... From over 5 years prior. It seems to be simple math that I had not even yet met Adrienne during the time my marriage was falling apart.
It deeply saddens me that an innocent party would be dragged into this situation that I have taken personal responsibility for.
Adrienne is a woman of integrity & character... Most of all she is a true friend, and she should not be blamed for my past indiscretions. I assure you - I am willing to own my wrongs and I have in the past. God knows & sees all things. I appreciate your prayers, and I join you in praying for the issues of life that truly matter today all over the world."
The two first worked together on the 2013 flick produced by Houghton, "I'm in Love with a Church Girl." During promotional tours for the film, Bailon said she was a fan of Houghton's music.
"The Real" co-host ended her relationship with ex-fiance Lenny Santiago back in September 2015, and Houghton announced his legal split from his former wife, Meleasa, of 20 years, in late February of this year.
While previously addressing his divorce in an open letter posted on Facebook, Houghton publicly repented for his wrong doing. "It is with a collective heavy heart that we announce that after over 20 years of marriage and a long separation, Meleasa and I are officially divorced," he wrote.
"Several years ago I failed and sinned in my marriage," he confessed. "Though this is new to many, it is not new to us as we have been working through this for over 5 years. Although we tried, the challenges in our relationship have proven too much to overcome."