Longtime Joel Osteen senior minister Israel Houghton has been “released from his responsibilities” following his announcement that he and his wife of 20 years had officially divorced. Recent photos of Houghton with Cheetah Girl and former girlfriend Adrienne Bailon have prompted rumors that Bailon may be the reason for the divorce and Israel’s dismissal from Joel Osteen’s ministry. Houghton insists that is not the case.
The Daily Mail reports that Israel Houghton’s dismissal from Joel Osteen’s staff was the result of his divorce and rumors of his marital infidelity. Israel was not terminated from his position but rather was placed on “indefinite leave.”
Christian News reported that a source from Osteen’s Lakewood Church confirmed 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.”
Prior to his being placed on leave from Joel Osteen’s ministry, Houghton announced, “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.”
The Joel Osteen minister did not provide details but confirmed that his divorce was due to his marital infidelity.
“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.”
Rumors emerged that the woman who was the cause for Houghton’s dismissal from Joel Osteen’s ministry and for his divorce was Adrienne Bailon. These were largely the result of recent photos of the couple vacationing in Mexico. The two met five years ago while working on the film I’m In Love with a Church Girl, which Houghton produced. At the time, Israel was still working for Joel Osteen’s megachurch, and reports of anything more than friendship were nonexistent. Houghton is adamant that Adrienne is not the “other woman” who led to the dissolution of his marriage and his termination from the Joel Osteen ministry.
“Adrienne is a woman of integrity and character. Most of all she is a true friend, and she should not be blamed for my past indiscretions. My marriage had been over for quite some time before going public with my divorce announcement.”
Welp, we didn't see this one coming. Adrienne Bailon boo'd up with Grammy winning gospel singer Israel Houghton. pic.twitter.com/UA0WxIdyFa
— Tartle (@TheTartle) March 22, 2016
Israel Houghton’s photo and bio have been removed from the website of Joel Osteen’s ministry. Lakewood Church insiders would not provide details but said that church officials would be happy to provide Houghton with spiritual counsel if he so desired. Israel served as Osteen’s worship leader for 14 years and has spoken at the church many times.
In addition to his work at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood church, 44-year-old Israel Houghton is also a six-time Grammy winner. Three of his Grammys were for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album and one was for Best Traditional Gospel Album.
Joel Osteen is the senior minister at the nondenominational Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. It’s the largest congregation in the United States, with an average weekly attendance of over 43,000 people. Joel Osteen’s wife, Victoria, serves as co-pastor. The church was founded by Joel’s father, John Osteen. Its congregation is now five times as large as it was at its height under John Osteen. Osteen’s services are broadcast every week to over 100 countries. It’s estimated that about seven million people watch those broadcasts.
[Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images]