Still Qualified to Lead? Ron Carpenter, Mired in Marital Woes, Refuses to Quit Pulpit; Pastor's Integrity '100 Percent Intact,' Says Spokesman

Redemption World Outreach Center Leader Works to Repair Marriage, Maintains Ministry Duties

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By Nicola Menzie , Christian Post Reporter
January 10, 2014|1:50 pm

"I'm broken over your willingness to be associated with people who have experienced such trouble. I'm sorry you've had to defend us. I'm sorry you've heard jokes. I'm sorry, and I can't change all that, but all I can do is get back in the game and give God His day. The critics have had their day. Let's give God His day."

'On Track and 100 Percent Intact'

"For the last 10 years, I have been masking a situation that has absolutely almost destroyed me," Carpenter told his congregation in October. "In 2004, the date we dedicated this facility, Easter Sunday 2004, I left here to find a very different woman than I had ever met."

  • Hope Carpenter is seen in a ministry flyer in an image shared online Sept. 14, 2013.
    (Photo: Twitter)
    Hope Carpenter is seen in a ministry flyer in an image shared online Sept. 14, 2013.

"I don't know what happened," said Carpenter. "I went home to a person that for the next 10 years I did not marry and I have not known."

Calling his wife's behavior "erratic, reckless, nonsensical, (and) destructive," Carpenter told his flock that he had "sat through two years of grueling therapy with her to no avail" and the situation continued to grow worse.

Carpenter also shared during his Jan. 5 sermon on "Grace" that he was not good at compartmentalizing. "What that means is that I'm not good at being one person out of church, and another person in church," he explained. "Whatever's happening to me privately, you're gonnna get the overflow of it when I pick up this microphone."

In addition to sparking online debate about the wisdom of disclosing the personal details of his broken marriage and suggestions that Carpenter had thrown his wife under the bus, there were questions related to 1 Timothy 3 and its implications for a church leader whose family life was experiencing unrest. "If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?" asks 1 Tim. 3:5, used among a handful of other Bible passages by Christians to lay out qualifications for church leaders.

Hayes, ROWC's executive director, told CP that not only have church members been overwhelmingly supportive of their pastor, but that "(Carpenter) has been inundated by the who's who of Christian ministries just with giving him love and support."

"Even the ministry, not just him, the ministry as a whole, we've been inundated by the love and support of not only of local ministries, but other ministries across the nation," said Hayes.

Hayes explained that he, along with two other executive members, Elder Rick Smith and Bishop Paul Gaehring, handle the business- and ministry-related aspects of RWOC and keep Pastor Carpenter abreast of daily issues, allowing him "during the weekdays, Monday through Friday, to be able to take the time he needs to focus on his family right now."

"Redemption also has a board of directors, which is an advisory board of directors to the senior pastor, and those include Bishop Kenneth Ulmer (Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, Calif.), Bishop Gary Oliver (Tabernacle of Praise in Fort Worth, Texas) and several other gentlemen who act (in) an advisory and counseling role for Pastor Ron and the organization."

Hayes added that, while not on the board of directors, Bishop T.D. Jakes and Dr. Sam Chand are looked to "for wisdom and guidance in a lot of situations, so they've been more than helpful in this situation." Chand, a ministry consultant and leadership expert, was present when Jim Bolin was restored last summer as pastor of Trinity Chapel in Powder Springs, Ga., after he had stepped down in 2008 over inappropriate sexual behavior. Jakes, founding and senior pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas, hosts the annual Pastor's and Leadership Conference, among several other projects meant to equip ministry leaders.

"All of those parties are aware of everything that's taken place and is taking place and the direction [the] pastor is headed," Hayes told CP concerning the advisory board's involvement in Pastor Carpenter's decision-making process.

Hayes said neither "yes" nor "no" when asked if the demands of 1 Timothy 3:5 apply in Pastor Carpenter's present situation.

"I think none of us, regardless of your position, whether you're Billy Graham or whether you're an usher greeting in your local body, I don't think any of us are exempt from hardship at all," said Hayes. "I think the enemy takes care of that. I think the higher you are on that totem pole, the larger the bulls-eye or the target is on your back. The more you're doing for God, the bigger the target."

The executive director added, "I don't think that target, that bulls-eye, that attempt from the enemy to weaken you or the message that you're bringing, I don't think that exempts you from…it doesn't void you from the ability to be able to bring the message of God. The gifts are irrevocable, and what God has called you to do, God has called you to do regardless. I think (Pastor Carpenter's) definitely capable, definitely doing a good job of bringing the message and bringing the word of God to his congregation and to the world, to our constituency worldwide, even in other nations.

"I think the support, not only in the local churches in our satellite campuses, but our worldwide ministry, our partnerships through TBN and our partnerships through some of the other organizations that we're part of, the support has just been overwhelming. I think that definitely speaks to that."

Listen to audio excerpts of Hayes' response in the clip below:

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The International Pentecostal Holiness Church's 2013-2017 Manual lists strict guidelines for "divorced or remarried persons" who are credentialed ministers or seeking credentials, and explains eligibility for continuing one's ministry under the following restrictions: A. The candidate's former spouse has died or remarried; B. The candidate divorced and remarried prior to adult Christian conversion; C. The candidate's former marriage partner was guilty of sexual immorality and was unwilling to repent and live faithfully with the candidate; D. The candidate's former marriage partner willingly and permanently deserted the believing spouse (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:8-9; Romans 7:1-4; 1 Corinthians 7:15; 25-28, 39; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Malachi 2:16).

It is unknown how Carpenter's ministry position would be affected, if at all, if he and his wife were to divorce. Requests made to the national IPHC office as well as the South Carolina Conference for clarification regarding its Manual and principles for senior pastors were not met by press time. Redemption World Outreach Center was cited in 2011 upon its 20th anniversary as the IPHC's largest church.

Pastor Carpenter, who appears on Jan. 15 as a speaker at the 2014 THRIVE Conference hosted by Calvary Church in Irving, Texas, remains "on track" and "is focused," according to his executive director.

"I think the most important thing for folks to remember is that we're all human, even Pastor Ron, even the folks that we put up on pedestals, we're all human," said Hayes. "But Pastor Ron is on track, he is focused. He's on track with the vision and the mandate that God has on his life, not only for him personally but also for this ministry. He's got things in order: God first, his wife and family second, and this congregation, this organization third. He is on track and headed in the right direction. His mercy, his grace and his integrity are 100 percent intact."

The Christian Post's request to Bishop T.D. Jakes' representative for comment on his relationship with Carpenter was not granted. Dr. Sam Chand, noted by RWOC as one of its pastor's advisors or counselors, confirmed that he counsels Carpenter "from time to time," but said he was not able to discuss the marital issues Pastor Carpenter has made public. Messages left with Pastor Kenneth Ulmer's and Bishop Gary Oliver's assistants were not returned by time of publication.

 

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