Lakewood Church Senior Pastor Joel Osteen had an emotional response, which was captured on camera, after hearing that one of his church's beloved pastors, John Gray, would be leaving to lead his own church in South Carolina.
The emotional interaction, which aired on "The Book of John Gray" on the Own Network May 5, took place after Pastor Ron Carpenter offered Gray the chance to take over as senior pastor of Redemption Church in Greenville, North Carolina, because Carpenter would be moving to San Jose, California, to take over the 14,000-member Jubilee Christian Center.
After much prayer, Gray, associate pastor at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, said he had to muster the courage to tell Osteen that he would be leaving Lakewood.
"My wife and I prayed about it and we believe that, this is something God wants us to do, but I want to make sure I have your blessing," Gray tells Osteen after explaining to him the offer he received from Carpenter.
The conversation is followed by a few moments of silence and then Osteen is heard sniffling, trying to hold back tears. Gray looks on, hoping the popular pastor would say something but then breaks the silence to express what preaching at Lakewood has meant to him over the past five years.
"Every time that I have been gifted to stand on your platform, I have endeavored to be an extension of your heart," Gray says as he wept along with Osteen.
Osteen responds, "We were so grateful to have you, John. You have served with excellence, and integrity and so much honor."
"I want you here for 50 years but more than that I want you to fulfill God's call on your life," a choked-up Osteen adds. "I know you have so much in you."
He assures Gray that he is proud of him and will always be a support for him as he heads into this new season of ministry.
Before Gray's first Sunday as senior pastor in South Carolina, Osteen and his wife Victoria prayed over Gray and his wife Aventer in front of the entire church congregation. It was also announced that Gray would still visit Lakewood Church and preach on Wednesdays.
The passionate episode aired just one day before Pastor Ron Carpenter preached his farewell sermon on May 6, officially transferring the leadership of the 21,000-member multi-campus Redemption Church to Gray.
"I want the agreement of the house because this is not a trivial moment to me," Carpenter, who founded Redemption in 1991, told the congregation. "This is the peaceful transference of power."
Carpenter likewise asked members of the church to lay their hands on Gray as he prayed for protection, wisdom and favor for Gray and his wife. He then handed a key to Gray, sharing that he had that key since the day he started Redemption. The church name, however, would change under Gray's leadership.
"From this moment forward, this is Relentless Church," Carpenter said after the emotional handoff, introducing the new name of the megachurch.