Through prayers, praise and unabashed declarations Sunday, Pastor John Gray and his team of ministry leaders at Relentless Church in South Carolina displayed a united front just days after Redemption Church founders Ron and Hope Carpenter asked a local court to evict them from their church building.
“We are relentless and we will stand and we will not be moved,” Robert Gray, director of pastoral care at Relentless Church, declared as he led elders in prayer during a morning service broadcast on Facebook.
"As we as elders stand here together as a force of unity, we thank you, Father God, that this house stands here together today … not the building but this body. We stand together today, Father, declaring your word over this body. Thanking you, Father God, that you have sent Pastor John and Pastor Aventer here for such a time as this — to take us to another level,” he prayed.
John Gray was given until the end of 2019 to vacate the property by the Carpenters amid allegations that he had been “shady” and “dishonest” in executing a transfer agreement after they passed the reins of their Redemption Church to him in 2018. The church was rebranded as Relentless Church.
Gray, through his legal team, has rejected the allegations and insisted to his congregation via a pre-recorded address that he has been abiding by the terms of the deal he has with the Carpenters.
“I want to reassure you once again that all of the things that you are hearing, please remember, I have not changed and we have not changed our stance. 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. But until then, we, the Relentless Church, will continue to have service and we will maintain the moral high ground. I am greatly grieved that there would be anyone or any spirit that would seek to harm the church openly in the name of Jesus,” Gray insisted.
“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 further explained that he was not in church on Sunday because he had a pre-planned commitment with his wife, Aventer, “before there was a setup with a camera to serve papers to our church.”
He said he was tempted to interrupt his time with Aventer to address the situation directly but feels “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 on a pastoral level and on an eldership level that God is going to continue to cover what belongs to Him.”
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The Relentless Church leader, who recently faced down allegations of marital infidelity and other controversies concerning lavish living, said he has been focused on doing “what is necessary” to maintain a healthy marriage.
“I’m going to do 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,” Gray said in the recording.
The Christian Post reached out to both Relentless Church and Redemption Church on Sunday for further comment but statements were not immediately available.
In the prayer of unity, Elder Gray declared: “I thank you, Father God. The enemy has no authority unless we give it. And I stand before you, Father, to say we give the enemy no authority over us. We give them no authority over us, this body … as we stand together today.”
In court documents cited by the Greenville News, Redemption argued that Relentless Church had proposed an asset transfer agreement for the properties, which Redemption initially agreed to. Gray’s church allegedly failed to deliver or execute the agreement, which should have included written leases. That failure on the part of Relentless Church, the Carpenters argue, invalidated the initial agreement, forcing Redemption Church to remove its support as well.
Gray was allegedly expected to rebrand and assume the debt and mortgage obligations of Redemption Church but he incorporated Relentless as a new organization instead and tried to purchase Redemption's assets, the court filing argues.
Relentless Church reportedly also chose to operate on a month-to-month lease and was unable to cover debt on The Imagine Center, a sports and fitness facility on campus. To prevent the property from going into foreclosure, Redemption Church said it had to cover the debt that should have been paid by Relentless Church.
"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," Katari Buck, an attorney representing Redemption Church, told Greenville News in a statement.