Hillsong Church’s Global Senior Pastor Brian Houston announced Sunday that Chrishan Jeyaratnam and his wife, Danielle, will replace Carl Lentz as leaders of Hillsong East Coast following the sex scandal that brought down the church’s former leader.
Calling them Hillsong Church’s “absolute finest,” the leader of the evangelical, international, multicampus megachurch made the announcement during Hillsong’s Vision Sunday service.
“Everybody knows, certainly most people would know, toward the end of last year, it’s been a very challenging season at Hillsong in the United States, in particular in the East Coast New York,” Houston began.
“We’re still working our way through that, and I sure would love all the prayer warriors and intercessors and everybody else in our church to be praying for that church and the East Coast because it has been hit hard. But I know God is gonna rebuild. He rescues, and He restores and He rebuilds.”
The announcement comes after much speculation surrounding who would replace Lentz as the head of the Australia-based ministry’s New York campus.
Pastor John Termini, a former real estate broker and his wife, Katie, were floated as possible replacements. But an unnamed sourcepreviously told the New York Post that the new leaders for Hillsong NYC would be “coming from the mothership in Sydney.”
“It won’t be John,” a source was quoted as saying.
Jeyaratnam and his wife had been serving as campus pastors at Hillsong Perth in Australia. Jeyaratnam, according to the church’s website, grew up in Hillsong Church starting at age 7. Danielle Jeyaratnam became a part of the church during her senior years in high school. They have four daughters.
“We’re thrilled about it. Like I said, I worked with some people behind the scenes and we prayed and even put these guys through some heavy interviewing process to see if they are up for the job. And, they are so Hillsong New York,” Houston said. “I pray and believe we are sending you our finest, our absolute finest. [They] are greatly loved here in many, many ways.”
Houston, who co-founded Hillsong Church in 1983, praised the couple’s ability to “love people.”
“I feel like there’s [going to be] a lot of healing that comes with Chrishan and Danielle up there in New York City and so we’re thrilled about it. And I know your gonna love them,” Houston said before presenting a small introductory video from the couple.
Pastor Jeyaratnam said the family was excited and had a “whole mix of emotions” about the new assignment. But they are hoping for a revival in the city.
“We are so thrilled about what God could do and that idea of revival. That’s what I think our faith is: that God could sweep that city with revival, that God could pour out his spirit in unprecedented ways,” he said.
“We’re really looking forward to joining the team, being there and creating an environment that is welcoming, that’s a safe place. And we’re really excited for what’s to come,” Danielle Jeyaratnam added.
Lentz, who attracted a raft of celebrities to the church, including pop singer Justin Bieber, was fired from the church last November over “leadership issues” and moral failures, including being unfaithful to his wife.
Last December, The DailyMail reported on a released audio recording of Houston addressing church leaders and top donors. He said Lentz had “more than one affair” before his eventual firing.
The affairs were “significant,” Houston reportedly said. He allegedly noted that Lentz had a history of “bad moral behavior.”
The New York City pastor’s infidelity was allegedly uncovered after a church staff member found compromising text messages on his computer.
New York City-based designer Ranin Karim claimed that she carried on a months-long affair with Lentz, who only gave her his first name and claimed to be a sports agent.
Hillsong Church later confirmed that they investigated and took action on a 2018 complaint letter alleging inappropriate sexual relations between staff and volunteers at the Hillsong NYC location. Not all the allegations made in the letter were accurate.
This month, Houston announced an investigation into allegations of gross financial abuse by pastors at Hillsong NYC. VanityFair reports that Houston sent an email Friday announcing that the investigation conducted by Zukerman Gore Brandeis & Crossman, LLP, was complete.
Houston stated that the church’s board of directors is “formulating a comprehensive action plan.” Houston stressed that every Hillsong location “must honor our commitment to creating a caring and healthy environment for our team, volunteers and members.”
“Under the previous lead pastor, this was not always the case,” Houston explained.