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Hillsong pastor dispels rumors that Justin Bieber was paid to attend Sydney conference

(Reuters/Heiko Junge/NTB Scanpix)Singer Justin Bieber performs on stage during a mini concert in Oslo, October 29, 2015.

Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz has denied rumors that Justin Bieber was paid to attend the church's annual conference in Sydney, Australia.

According to Yahoo News, Bieber secretly flew to Sydney earlier this week to attend the four-day Hillsong Closer Conference. Lentz, a close friend of Bieber, had insisted that the singer's interest in the event is not financially motivated.

"No, we don't pay him to attend. This is a volunteer thing," the 38-year-old pastor said in an interview with Australian TV program Sunrise on Wednesday.

"He comes on his own, and everybody here would buy a ticket, be a part of it. He feels like it's a big part of his year to be able to come here and right now he's like in the middle of tour as well so I think it's a good break for him to just press pause on all that and be around people who love what he loves," he added.

The tickets for the conference held on Tuesday was priced at $359, and Bieber's appearance was not announced beforehand.

Lentz said that the Bieber "just listens" at the conference and does not perform on stage. The New York-based pastor said that the 23-year-old pop singer chooses to fly across the world to "break away" from the glitzy fame scene.

Bieber, who has been involved in various controversies throughout his career, has already visited Australia three times to pledge his faith at separate Hillsong events in the past two years, according to Daily Mail.

In March, the pop singer joined Lentz at the launch of Hillsong's Australia Colour Conference. Bieber was also seen attending the 2015 Hillsong Conference with model Hailey Baldwin, sparking romance rumors between the duo at the time.

Other celebrities, such as Gigi Hadid, Selena Gomez, Cody Simpson and Vanessa Hudgens, have also been seen attending Hillsong Church services.

In a 2015 interview with GQ, Lentz recounted how Bieber got down on his knees, saying, "I want to know Jesus." Bieber was immediately baptized in an NBA player's bath later that night.

The New York-based Hillsong pastor said that he believes Justin is a good Christian and that the negative reports about the singer are just a "small percentage of who he is."

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