John Gray says Ron Carpenter leased him church with $13M debt, refused to meet privately over dispute
Pastor John Gray of Relentless Church in Greenville, South Carolina, says he is “eagerly” waiting to go to court Friday with fellow megachurch leader, pastor Ron Carpenter of Redemption Church, in a dispute over payments for the Relentless Church campus owned by Carpenter.
Gray, who is fighting a lawsuit filed by Carpenter and his wife, Hope, to evict Relentless Church from the Greenville property, was given until the end of 2019 to take his church elsewhere amid allegations that he had been “shady” and “dishonest” in executing an agreement with the Carpenters after they passed the reins of their Redemption Church to him in 2018, which he rebranded as Relentless Church.
In dueling statements released by the pastors Tuesday, which were published by Fox Carolina, they promised to present strong evidence showing bad faith by the other party and concerted efforts to settle the ongoing dispute privately.
“After many unsuccessful attempts to rectify these matters privately and spiritually, we had no confidence that the truth of the situation would be revealed except through the legal process. On February 7, 2020, we will submit to the court over a hundred pages of evidence of Relentless’s slow payments, non-payments, delinquencies, repossession notices, and pre-foreclosure notices related to their operations at the Greenville church campus,” Carpenter said in his statement.
In 2018, after handing the keys of their church to Gray, the Carpenters moved to San Jose, California, to officially become the new pastors of the 14,000-member Jubilee Christian Center, which they renamed Redemption.
Carpenter alleged that it has been a difficult year for his church financially as a result of the dispute and said he is looking forward to a swift resolution so everyone can move on.
“This last year has been financially devastating to Redemption. We do not have the ability to continue to carry the responsibilities of both campuses in California and in South Carolina. Relentless’s decisions have put us in a position that is not sustainable. Our desire is to simply have a chance to continue the Greenville ministry and save the properties from foreclosure,” Carpenter said.
In his response, Gray said it was Carpenter who behaved improperly and tried to saddle his church with his more than $13 million debt.
“Pastor Ron Carpenter publicly handed over the keys to a building he could not legally transfer at the time because of Redemption’s outstanding debt to the third-party entity that has a secured interest in the properties. However, Pastor Carpenter still left the city of Greenville and its people to pursue what he said was God’s call on his life. In that, he took the name of the Redemption Church, the core staff and tangible assets while also leaving a campus with over $13 million in debt, with over 10 entities paying to sustain the campus,” Gray said.
He explained that once his church learned of the Carpenters’ debt obligation, his church hastily entered into a lease agreement that they have been honoring and disputed the allegation that Relentless Church is in danger of foreclosure.
“To Pastor Ron’s assertion that the Relentless campus is in danger of foreclosure, we categorically deny and vigorously refute these claims. The Relentless Church maintains documented proof of every property payment made each month since our arrival. As such, there has never been a chance of any of these buildings being foreclosed on. To say so is not only inflammatory and disingenuous, it is also purposefully misleading and dishonest to members of our community,” Gray said.
He further noted that he attempted to meet face-to-face with Carpenter at least 10 times to settle the disagreement and he has refused.
“We eagerly await Friday’s court hearing, as we will give copious amounts of corroborating documentation that shows a consistent pattern of disinformation and obfuscation in an effort to hinder The Relentless Church’s ability to do what we are assigned to do: preach Jesus Christ and meet the needs of this city, this region, this nation and the world,” Gray added.