WATCH: Pastor John Gray Does Not Attend Relentless Church This Sunday but Tells Congregation in Video Message That They Will ‘Maintain the Moral High Ground’ in Eviction Dispute

Pastor John Gray talks to the crowd during the first service at Relentless Church on New Year’s Eve Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. (Photo: SABRINA SCHAEFFER/Staff)

In a videotaped message to his congregation Sunday, The Relentless Church Pastor John Gray vowed to “maintain the moral high ground” in an eviction dispute with Redemption Church.

“We have paid what we owe according to our agreement and everything is going to be shared at the right time through the proper legal channels,” Gray said. “But until then we, The Relentless Church, will continue to have service and we will maintain the moral high ground.

“I’m greatly grieved that there would be anyone or any spirit that would seek to harm a church open in the name of Jesus,” he said. “But I will leave all of that up to God and I will do what is in the best interests of our church, which is serve Jesus, meet the needs of the poor and be …. the hands and feet of Jesus in our community.”

Gray’s comments were part of a 2 1/2-minute video that was played during Sunday’s early service at the Greenville-based megachurch. The Greenville News watched an online broadcast of the service.

Explaining his absence from Sunday’s service, Gray said, “Today I am taking a necessary day with my bride.

“It was preplanned before there was a setup with a camera to serve papers to our church and I had a mind to immediately come back,” he said. “But I am confident not only in the power of the living God to cover and protect his church, I am also fully confident in the leaders that we have in Relentless Church at a pastoral level and on an eldership level that God is going to continue to cover what belongs to him and I’m going to what is necessary, which is continue to build my marriage so that it can be healthy and vibrant because if I don’t have a healthy marriage and family then none of this actually matters.”

Redemption Church filed for eviction against The Relentless Church in Greenville on Thursday, just over a month after Redemption terminated its lease agreement with Relentless and told the church to vacate the property owned by Redemption by the end of 2019.

The court filing asks for an application of ejectment and says Relentless breached its lease agreement because it failed to make all payments to cover the costs of the sanctuary and The Imagine Center, the sports and fitness facility operated on the church campus.

Katari Buck, an attorney representing Redemption Church, said in a prepared statement emailed to The News late Thursday that since the two churches couldn’t agree on a date for Relentless to vacate Redemption’s property, Redemption took legal steps to protect its property.

“Redemption is unable to continue to absorb the mounting debts and past due accounts associated with the Greenville property during Relentless’ tenancy and therefore has no other option but to seek to regain possession of the property sooner rather than later,” Buck said.

Ron and Hope Carpenter founded Redemption Church, formerly known as Redemption World Outreach Center, in Greenville in 1991. They built one of the state’s largest megachurches with more than 20,000 members in multiple locations throughout the Carolinas.

They pastored the Christian church with its Pentecostal roots until December 2017 when they announced they would leave to take over a church in San Jose, California. The Carpenters handed over the keys to the church to John Gray and his wife, Aventer Gray, in mid-2018 but took the church’s name of Redemption Church with them.

Last week’s eviction filing says Gray broke the original transition agreement. Instead of rebranding and assuming the debt and mortgage obligations of Redemption Church, he incorporated Relentless as a new organization and wanted to purchase Redemption’s assets, Redemption says in its court filing.

Attorneys for the Carpenters and Redemption sent John Gray a letter Nov. 27 terminating its month-to-month lease agreements and telling Relentless to be off the property by the end of the year.

After Redemption sent Relentless the letter ending its lease agreement, attorneys for Relentless released its own response and included a screenshot of a Facebook direct message purportedly sent by Hope Carpenter to various church members. The message called Gray “a shady guy” and “very dishonest,” and said “we will be taking our church back.”

At a Dec. 15 service laying out plans for 2020, Gray announced that Relentless would move to a new Greenville location. He said at that service he would announce the location to the church on New Year’s Eve, but he didn’t.

Source: Greenville News