They’re moving on to — hopefully — less violent pastures.
Hillsong megachurch pastors Josh and Leona Kimes have stepped down from their position as leaders of the Australian institution’s Hillsong branch, the couple wrote on social media this week.
The announcement comes days after a leaked internal investigation alleged that Leona was once repeatedly punched in the face “with a closed fist” by scandalized ex-pastor Carl Lentz’s wife, Laura. The incident reportedly occurred one night in 2016, when Laura caught Carl and Leona canoodling on a couch in the home of former NBA player Tyson Chandler.
“It was never in our plans to ever leave Hillsong Church,” Josh Kimes captioned a Monday Instagram post. “It’s been home for 22yrs of my life. It’s where I’ve pastored for the last 16yrs.”
The post goes on to detail the many life landmarks the couple celebrated in their time at the once celebrity-beloved, now disgraced Pentecostal congregation, the founder and former leader of which recently stepped down amid misconduct accusations: The Kimes met and got married at Hillsong, moved across the world for the church, helped start Hillsong NYC and Hillsong Boston, to name a few of their listed experiences there.
As for why, after all this time, they’ve suddenly decided to join the deluge of pastors stepping away from the church, they only offer the explanation that “we’ve made the difficult decision to resign as we know God is directing our steps to walk confidently & humbly into the unknown & trust Him to open the right door & plant us somewhere new.”
Josh and Leona Kimes with their children. josh.kimes/Facebook Carl Lentz preaching at NYC’s Irving Plaza in 2013.AP
The pair have spent the last year or so doing “a lot of work,” they vaguely offer, and therapy to “process the past, learn & unlearn, forgive & seek forgiveness.” As a result, they now say they have “healthy boundaries,” a better marriage and are more equipped to help build the church branch they are now resigning from but which “we’re still very passionate about.”
“Hillsong will always hold a special place in our hearts,” Josh noted.
Before heading Hillsong’s Boston church with her husband, Leona spent seven years nannying for the Lentzs, during which time she was “subjected to manipulation, control, bullying, abuse of power and sexual abuse” according to a Medium essay she wrote last May.
The Lentzs have vehemently denied the allegations.
The Kimes’ own former nannies have also come forward with allegations. One New Jersey sitter previously told The Post that Leona regularly paid her less than her rate and generally “expected people to work for nothing.”
“Personally, I think it’s one of the better exits / announcements from a Hillsong leader,” one former Hillsong NYC congregant told The Post. “Most go quietly into the night with maybe a small statement.”
Hillsong did not return The Post’s request for comment.