Entertainment

Hillsong replaces Carl Lentz with real estate broker, Bieber buddy

This broker sells houses and God, too.

Australia-based megachurch Hillsong has been engulfed in scandal since November when celebrity-beloved Carl Lentz was fired from his position as the NYC branch’s lead pastor for adultery. Lentz’s departure sparked an internal investigation of Hillsong’s East Coast operations and opened the floodgates to a tidal wave of other accusations against the church, including that it exploited congregants, functioned as more of a homophobic “cult” than a religious institution and that pastors used tithe money to fund their excessive lifestyles. 

Meanwhile, Lentz’s former “right-hand guy” and former real estate broker John Termini quietly began taking over the fallen star’s responsibilities, headlining the services Lentz had previously led and replacing Lentz as the most featured face on Hillsong NYC’s social media accounts. 

Insiders, however, allege that the property agent’s time in the limelight is only temporary. Lentz’s formal replacement “is coming from the mothership in Sydney. It won’t be John,” a person with knowledge of what’s been communicated to East Coast Hillsong staffers claimed to The Post, adding that Termini is “without a doubt the ‘interim’ face of Hillsong East Coast.”

Neither Termini nor Hillsong returned The Post’s request for comment. 

In Hillsong’s Jan. 24 pandemic-safe Sunday service livestream — titled “Who Is Leading You? | John Termini | Hillsong East Coast” — Termini is introduced as an executive pastor who’s “helping lead the charge in this interim season” before taking the screen. 

“My name is John Termini and I am helping lead our church right now, in this season. And I know this has been a really challenging time for our church to navigate,” the 38-year-old father says before launching into a sermon, gesticulating heavily as a spiritual-sounding instrumental track plays in the background. In the sermon, he talks about leadership, the Book of John and the similarities between landlords and the Holy Spirit. 

John Termini, a former real estate broker and Hillsong NYC’s most prominently featured pastor following Carl Lentz’s fall from grace. Instagram

“You know I used to be a broker,” he says some 30 minutes into preaching. “I love brokers, thank God for brokers, but you know what’s better than a broker is the owner. Why go to a broker, why go to an owner, go to a dealer. His name is the Holy Spirit. He can show you access to the Father.”

In addition to taking Lentz’s airtime, Termini has also apparently managed to stay in the good graces of Lentz’s biggest celebrity supporter: Justin Bieber. 

“Bring it on 2021,” Termini captioned a Jan. 12 Instagram post of himself, his brother Joe and, among others, Justin and wife Hailey Baldwin in front of a tropical sunset. 

Baldwin, 24, unfollowed Lentz shortly the news broke of his affair, and Bieber, 26, publicly distanced himself from Hillsong this month, declaring in an Instagram Story that “HILLSONG IS NOT MY CHURCH.. FOR CLARITY I AM PART OF CHURCHOME.”

Termini has previously held the titles of Hillsong Church’s Head of Global Real Estate and, before that, its Director of Business Development, according to his Linkedin — jobs he also managed to cross-reference with the Holy Bible in past sermons. 

“We rent venues now, but one day we’re going to own venues,” Termini told a rapt crowd at Hillsong’s Connecticut chapter in 2018 after citing John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”) and emphasizing the importance of donating money, The Hour reported at the time. The publication described him as “a brawny man, well over 6 feet tall with perfectly coiffed hair and piercing blue eyes.” 

Former Hillsong member Ian Keith previously described Termini to The Post, claiming he’s “crass” and “disingenuous.” Keith claimed that, in one particularly upsetting interaction, the pastor allegedly publicly eviscerated him for being gay. “‘You make it such a big deal that you’re gay,’” Keith claimed Termini screamed at him, unprovoked, among other alleged insults for a matter of minutes while the pair were outside a Williamsburg coffee shop. 

In an interview, Termini once said that his favorite thing about his wife Katie (who “translates” traditional Native American jewelry into “modern, delicate” pieces) is “her hotness.” 

Lentz, 42, has been lying low since his fall from grace and has reportedly been in treatment for depression and “intense” therapy with his wife. 

Justin Bieber and Carl Lentz in 2017, at the Aces Charity Celebrity Basketball Game at Madison Square Garden.Getty Images