HOUSTON – Lakewood Church says senior worship leader Israel Houghton is still “part of the Lakewood family” and he has not been fired.
Tabloid reports claimed Houghton was fired after allegedly cheating on his wife of 20 years with former Cheetah Girls member Adrienne Bailon.
“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,” Lakewood Church said Thursday in a statement.
The six-time Grammy winner denied the rumors about Bailon in a Facebook post Tuesday.
He said he met Bailon two years ago while working together and they became friends.
“From a Friendship, as two single adults we have very recently begun to explore a dating relationship,” Houghton posted on Facebook.
Houghton just announced in February that his marriage to ex-wife Meleasa had failed. But he said the marriage actually ended five years ago.
The full statement reads as below, as it was previously posted on Israel’s Facebook page.
“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. 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. Although we tried, the challenges in our relationship have proven too much to overcome. We have always handled our family and ministry with grace and generosity toward others, discretion, and privacy. So, for the sake of our amazing kids, we are also handling this privately with pastoral oversight and assistance. We choose to remain friendly and kind to each other going forward. I am in the process of restoration and I have repented for my actions. 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. 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. We thank you for your prayers and for allowing us to handle this privately with those who are set over us in this process.
“It seems to be simple math that I had not even yet met Adrienne during the time my marriage was falling apart,” Houghton posted.
The singer and songwriter said it’s unfair to allow Bailon to “carry the burden, blame & shame” of something she had nothing to do with.
“Adrienne is a woman of integrity & character… Most of all she is a true friend, and she should not be blamed for my past indiscretions,” Houghton said.
Houghton, who admits he “failed and sinned” during his 20-year-marriage, won a 2016 Grammy for Best Gospel Album. He’s won several other Grammys and Dove Awards with his band “Israel and the New Breed.