Married Hillsong pastor resigns after allegedly sexting church volunteer
Another married Hillsong East Coast pastor has left the megachurch following a sex scandal.
Darnell Barrett — the creative director of Hillsong’s Montclair, New Jersey, chapter — resigned Tuesday after allegedly sharing a revealing post-workout selfie with a church volunteer and trying to play it off as a mistake, the Daily Mail reported.
“Hey! I think I might’ve added you to my close friends list by accident. I’m so sorry. Trying to figure out how the hell to edit it,” Barrett, 32, a married father of two, texted the volunteer after purportedly sending the lewd photo of himself in front of a mirror, wearing only white Nike Pro tights. Barrett also supposedly posted two photos from the underwear selfie shoot to his “close friends” Instagram Story in February.
“Day 2 of kicking depressions tight a–,” the clergyman wrote over the image, which he also sent to a 30-year-old woman who volunteered for him from 2014 to 2016 at the Australia-based church’s New Jersey branch. The second shot was captioned “TBH: Depression and anxiety got the best of me in the last 30 hours. Barely got out of bed yesterday. I’m just proud of myself for getting to the gym today even if it was a cheap 30 minute workout. One of the insidious things about grief is it’s capricious nature. I’m learning to give myself grace in how I deal with it.”
He reportedly texted the volunteer several times to convince her she’d only received the image by accident.
“Seriously, sorry about that. I guess,” he apparently messaged the volunteer after sending the pic, which he called “some real raw s–t I send to my friends man. Lol.”
“Haha that’s alright,” responded the woman, who later sent Barrett a much harsher response before blocking him.
“To be honest, this whole ‘fishing’ scheme of yours to see if I will bite isn’t what even pisses me off. What pisses me off is knowing that I’m not the only person you’ve probably done this to,” she wrote. “I’m actually horrified by the thought of how many other innocent girls you’ve manipulated with this ploy of yours.”
When the Daily Mail approached the pastor for comment, he admitted to sending the explicit selfie and informed the publication he had freshly resigned from his role.
“We thought it was best for me to move on. I don’t want to get into the details,” he told a reporter outside the West Orange, New Jersey, home he shares with his wife, adding that he and his wife are “working through” his apparent “infidelity.”
The explicit photos, he insisted to the publication, were shared only as an “honest mistake, and I informed my wife as soon as it happened.”
The anonymous former volunteer apparently didn’t buy it, as she said Barrett — despite barely knowing her — had reportedly reached out earlier this year about visiting Austin, where she now lives. “Hey! I’m looking to come to Austin to the most isolated (and scenic) place I can find,” he allegedly texted her in January, asking if she had “any suggestions?”
However, Barrett told the Daily Mail that he was not planning to meet with her. “I was not at all trying to lure her,” he said. “I get that she, within the context of what’s happening with Hillsong, that she would draw those conclusions.”
He added: “But I barely know her. That was not my intention.”
Hillsong did not return The Post’s request for comment.
Barrett’s resignation comes less than six months after Carl Lentz, the high-profile former lead pastor of Hillsong’s New York City branch, was fired for “breaches of trust” and “moral failures.”