Former members of the celebrity megachurch Hillsong recently came forward to Insider with multiple accusations of racism, anti-LGBTQ behavior, and exploitation after pastor Carl Lentz was fired for infidelity last month.
After celebrity pastor of Hillsong NYC Carl Lentz was fired for cheating on his wife in November, sources told Insider that the issues at Hillsong run much deeper than one affair.
Several former volunteers said top pastors regularly took advantage of free and underpaid labor, and in some cases paid little or no money for volunteers to babysit their children.
In 2017, former Hillsong Boston volunteer Tiffany Perez said she was asked to take care of the top pastor Josh Kimes’ daughter, Lyla, who was 4 at the time for $150 a week.
Perez often worked up to 25 hours a week babysitting, she said, which comes out to about $6 an hour, or half the minimum wage in Massachusetts. Perez also cleaned their home and looked after their dog, she said. She was not paid extra for the cleaning or dog care.
In 2015, a children’s ministry volunteer, who asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons, said she was asked to look after the kids of Blaze Robertson, the former head pastor of Hillsong Connecticut, and his wife, Desiree.
“I just kind of expected that I would be compensated in some way, but they absolutely didn’t,” she said.
Two former Boston Hillsong volunteers and a New York City volunteer said members they knew babysat pastors’ children for little or no pay. Three former volunteers said Kimes’ wife, Leona Kimes, was one of Lentz’s main babysitters between 2010 and 2017 when Kimes was working as the associate pastor in New York.
Meanwhile, pastors like Lentz were treated like royalty by the Christian megachurch with private chauffeurs paid for by Hillsong and access to perks like courtside seats at Knicks games.
Free favors, Perez said, are viewed as a way to serve the church.
“Hillsong refers to it as ‘honoring,'” Perez said, “but over the years I wondered is it really honoring. Or is it that you’re just being taken advantage of?”
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