Joel Osteen’s Senior Worship Leader: ‘I Have Not Been Fired’ Following Divorce, New Girlfriend

Osteen-Houghton
Photo Credit (Houghton): Sam Panasyuk

HOUSTON, Texas — The longtime senior worship leader for megachurch self-help author and motivational speaker Joel Osteen says that he was not fired after announcing his divorce last month and being photographed this month kissing a woman not his wife. Lakewood has classified the arrangement as “indefinite leave.”

As previously reported, on February 22, Houghton, a five-time Grammy Award Gospel singer known for his songs “Friend of God,” “Not Forgotten” and “Moving Forward,” announced publicly on social media that he and his wife had divorced.

“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.

Without providing details, Houghton explained that he had “sinned” in his marriage and was unable to fully restore the relationship.

“Several years ago I failed and sinned in my marriage. Though this is new to many, it is not new to us as we have been working through this for over 5 years,” he said. “Although we tried, the challenges in our relationship have proven too much to overcome.”

Houghton apologized for the hurt that his actions had caused.

“Although I am sincerely sorry, and forgiven, I soberly realize that I will live with the consequences of my failings for the rest of my life,” he stated. “As this has become a public matter I want to apologize to the many who have supported my ministry through the years. I’m sorry for the many who will be hurt to learn of my personal failure. I regret any pain or disappointment that this news may cause you.”

  • Connect with Christian News

“Several years ago I failed and sinned in my marriage. Though this is new to many, it is not new to us as we have been working through this for over 5 years,” he said. “Although we tried, the challenges in our relationship have proven too much to overcome.”

Houghton apologized for the hurt that his actions had caused.

“Although I am sincerely sorry, and forgiven, I soberly realize that I will live with the consequences of my failings for the rest of my life,” he stated. “As this has become a public matter I want to apologize to the many who have supported my ministry through the years. I’m sorry for the many who will be hurt to learn of my personal failure. I regret any pain or disappointment that this news may cause you.”

Earlier this month, Houghton, 44, was spotted in Tulum, Mexico with a woman who is not his wife. Actress Adrienne Bailon, 32, donned a scantily-clad bikini as she and Houghton vacationed together on the beach. The two were photographed embracing and kissing in the water.

Bailon is the former girlfriend of Rob Kardashian, and had been engaged to Lenny Santiago until she ended the relationship in September. Houghton met Bailon three years ago while working on the film “I’m In Love With a Church Girl,” which he produced.

While Lakewood did not respond to Christian News Network’s phone calls, it told a secular outlet this past week that “Lakewood Church released Israel Houghton from his responsibilities as a worship leader [in February] and placed him on indefinite leave. Since that time, he has not been featured in any Lakewood Church related activities.” He had served as Osteen’s worship leader for 14 years and had also spoken at the podium on several occasions.

On Thursday, Lakewood provided further clarification in a public statement in which it said that while Houghton has indeed been placed on indefinite leave, he has not been 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,” it said.

Houghton also Tweeted, “I truly love @joelosteen & my gracious Lakewood family. … I have not been fired.”

Houghton has been scrubbed from the Lakewood leadership page. A cached image of the page from late November 2015, one of the last archived images available, shows Houghton still being on staff at that time. His photo and bio were removed at some point between December and this month.

Much concern has been raised over the past decade that the messages at Lakewood are noticeably void of instruction to shun sin and walk in holiness. Osteen’s self-help books have included “Your Best Life Now,” “Become a Better You,” “You Can, You Will” and “It’s Your Time.”

Osteen’s latest book, “The Power of I Am,” teaches readers to manifest blessings in their life by making positive confessions about themselves, so that they might “lead a more productive and happier life.”

In 2014, Osteen’s wife Victoria raised concerns when she preached, “Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself…”


A special message from the publisher...

Dear Reader, our hearts are deeply grieved by the ongoing devastation in Iraq, and through this we have been compelled to take a stand at the gates of hell against the enemy who came to kill and destroy. Bibles for Iraq is a project to put Arabic and Kurdish audio Bibles into the hands of Iraqi and Syrian refugees—many of whom are illiterate and who have never heard the gospel.Will you stand with us and make a donation today to this important effort? Please click here to send a Bible to a refugee >>

Print Friendly
  • Oboehner

    One must wonder why Joel Osteen is even being discussed on a Christian site.

  • Coach

    The power of a religious lie. Joel Osteen is scum. As Paul Washer stated, “people like Osteen are God’s judgement on people who don’t want the real God”

    • Amos Moses

      Yeah, i like PW. Great preacher of the word………………..

    • Vicky

      I would discern that the statement just made is not Christlike. Stop tearing down our own body just because you don’t agree! Too much garbage like this brings shame to the church of Jesus Christ.

      • Addjoa Henewaa

        What brings shame to the church is heretical preaching and lifestyles which pushes the unbeliever away. If you want to look nice to the unbeliever by not calling out false preaching then you ought to go back and read the bible.

      • Coach

        According to that logic, Jesus is not Christlike. What would you say of the Lord of glory as He calls the false teaching Pharisees a ‘brood of vipers’ Matthew 23:33 “Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?” or Herod a “fox” Luke 13:32 “And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.”
        Osteen is a false teacher and will be judged more severely than the neighbor down the street trying to join Isis.
        Please study what the Bible says Vicky and flee Joel’s self-worship, new age garbage. If you believe the false gospel Osteen’s teaching, you’re on your way to hell, repent of defending these lies and trust alone in Jesus Christ.

  • mrpoohead

    Good news: we no longer have to worry about Islamic terrorists. Figures just in show that for every terrorist (not even just Islamic) death there are over a thousand normal/regular/ acceptable homicides in the US. See who needs Islamic terrorists, Americans are far more efficient at killing each other than any one else.

    • Amos Moses

      We are far more likely to be struck by lightening than killed be terrorists…… and we can thank the government for being fearmongers in that regard. The business of government is control, they prefer to control with fear.

      What else is new?

      • mrpoohead

        Fear and the lowest common denominator being a moron helps.

  • The Guest

    “For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, **gossip**, arrogance and disorder.” 2 Corinthians 12:20

    “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12

  • Fee

    There is an abundance of smooth operating Delilahs and Jezebels on the move, bringing godly men down left and right. Too bad Israel gave in to the lust of his flesh, tarnishing his own righteous reputation. However, there is forgiveness and restoration, which hopefully by now he’s seeking, more so than being unequally yoked with Adrienne Bailon. After a divorce from a godly wife, of all the women to choose to replace her. Whatever happened to “till death do us part?” This nightmare involving one of the greatest (if not the greatest) praise and worship leaders of all time is simply unbelievable. “I’m praying for you, Israel, as well as your precious children and ex-wife. Adrienne Bailon, please wash your hands of this matter and break off your relationship with this chosen man of God.”

  • Liz Holder

    Jeremiah 23:1-40 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord 2 Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord………..