Hope Carpenter, co-founder of Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville, South Carolina, which was rebranded Relentless Church last year, briefly spoke at a worship service in March where she defended the congregation’s new pastor, John Gray, amid a scandal.
But in a letter released Thursday, James Stephen Welch, a lawyer retained by Gray from the firm McGowan, Hood and Felder, LLC, revealed that the relationship has now soured and Hope Carpenter has allegedly told members of Relentless Church that Gray is a “shady man” and “dishonest,” and that she and her husband, Ron, will soon be taking back their church.
Welch, in his letter to John R. Devlin, an attorney for the Carpenters, noted that on Nov. 27, Gray was served a 30-day notice of termination for the church building they had apparently been leasing from the Carpenters.
He further cited social media messages allegedly from Hope Carpenter to members of Relentless Church explaining why they want their church back.
“We are asking them to vacate our building because everything is still in our name and they are 3 to 4 months behind on all the bills that are in Redemption’s name. We have tried so hard to make it work with them but he is a shady man. Very dishonest! We will be taking our church back and we will make it a campus. We will be live one Sunday a month and the rest we will stream!!! We are very excited to have our campus back but we are very sad that John Gray has not lived up to his end of the agreement. Please don’t say anything we will make a public announcement soon,” the alleged message from Hope Carpenter to Relentless Church members said.
Welch argued that it isn’t Gray and Relentless Church that failed to honor the agreement between the parties.
“As you may be aware, Redemption Church and Ron Carpenter could not follow through will [sic] all the terms of the original transition agreement related to property when Relentless moved in. Subsequently, two leases were negotiated to allow Relentless to lease the properties (which you list in your letter) until Relentless exercised its option under those leases to obtain the properties. Based on those lease terms, Relentless has paid and is current on both leases, and possibly has overpaid based on rent increases by Ron Carpenter and Redemption,” Welch stated.
He also called on the Carpenters to cease and desist with direct messages and other correspondence to Relentless Church members and specifically referenced the alleged message from Hope Carpenter as being “very serious defamatory statements.”
“Pastor Gray and Relentless have gone above and beyond the original transfer terms to make this work,” Welch said of the agreement between the parties. “It is Ron Carpenter and Redemption Church who could not comply with the transfer agreement.”
He further added that it was unfair for the Carpenters to asked Gray and his congregation to vacate the property in 30 days.
“We are also having a hard time understanding how any entity, much less a Christian ministry, can expect a church the size of Relentless to move in 30 days, especially when the rent is current. Could it be that the threat of eviction of a 30-day notice is really so the Carpenters can do exactly what Hope has outlined in her Facebook DM? I sincerely hope not,” Welch said.
He further noted that if the matter was not resolved in a reasonable manner, Gray would take further steps to protect his reputation.
In March, in the wake of a slew of controversies concerning allegations of marital infidelity, Relentless Church's purchase of a $1.8 million home for the Grays, and John Gray gifting his wife a $200,000 Lamborghini, Hope Carpenter publicly defended Gray and his wife, Aventer, from critics and media reports.
“I love you Pastor John and Pastor Aventer. I believe in you, I’m praying for you, I’m rooting for you. I cut people. I’ve got a knife right in that pocketbook,” Carpenter declared after riling up the Relentless congregation with a message she said she got from God to “hold fast.”
“See, if I did not know what God had brought me through back here and what God brought me through 10 years ago, and what God brought me through five years ago, I would not have a deep intertwined root system that would help me to be able to hold on,” Carpenter told the congregation at the time.
In the nearly 30 years that Carpenter did ministry in Greenville with her husband, the couple also faced controversies. It was in 2013 that Ron Carpenter revealed to their congregation that Hope had committed adultery multiple times over the previous 10 years and was under psychiatric observation.
The Carpenters moved to San Jose, California, last year and were officially installed as the new pastors of the 14,000-member Jubilee Christian Center, now rebranded as Redemption. They passed on the reins of their South Carolina church, which they founded in 1991, to the Grays.