An ongoing dispute between the Ron Carpenter-led Redemption Church and John Gray’s Relentless Church in South Carolina over real estate has escalated after Relentless Church filed a motion in court last week seeking to enforce a settlement reached with Redemption Church last October.
"Last year, Relentless Church and Redemption Church met in good faith and both parties were able to reach an amicable agreement that allowed both churches to focus on their true mission — to serve the spiritual livelihoods of the Greenville community,” Relentless spokesperson Anne Torres said in a statement on the dispute to WYFF4.
Gray's attorney, Devon Puriefoy, told Greenville News that "the terms of the mediation are confidential," and he is urging Redemption to comply with those terms so the case can "get through the finish line."
According to Torres, Redemption Church leaders haven't been acting in good faith.
“Relentless has made every effort to be a partner in faith to Redemption but unfortunately, this has become a distraction to the work the church has done in the Greenville community and beyond. Simply put, our community and congregations deserve better. It is our hope that Redemption leadership accepts and abides by the terms of our original agreement so that we can all move forward,” she said in an emailed statement to Greenville News on Tuesday.
The dispute began shortly after Carpenter and his wife, Hope, moved to San Jose, California, in 2018 and were officially installed as the new pastors of the 14,000-member Jubilee Christian Center, now rebranded as Redemption.
The Carpenters founded Redemption Church in South Carolina in 1991 and led it for 27 years before passing the reins of their Greenville Church to Gray and his wife, Aventer, who rebranded the congregation Relentless Church.
After a slew of controversies concerning allegations of marital infidelity and Relentless Church's purchase of a $1.8 million home for the Grays, the Carpenters issued an eviction notice to Relentless Church from their Greenville facility.
Gray’s lawyers argued in early 2020 that the dispute is really “a fight over church members.”
“In essence, this is not a dispute as much about leases and occupancy of church buildings, as much as it is a fight over church members. Pastor Gray has come into Greenville at the urging of Ron Carpenter, even moving to be here before school was out for the summer for his children, because Carpenter said he had to leave immediately for California,” lawyers for Gray argued in 2020.
In October, Carpenter announced plans to return to Greenville with a new campus in 2021 to provide a spiritual home for former congregants who have been left spiritually homeless by the botched handover of his longtime church to Gray.
Responding to the motion filed by Relentless Church, Redemption Church told WYFF4 in a statement that they are committed to finalizing the settlement reached with Gray’s operation.
“Redemption is fully committed to finalizing the settlement reached at mediation with Relentless and has been working since October to make that happen. Though we cannot discuss specific terms of the confidential agreement, there are necessary actions to finalize the agreement that involve obligations to third parties that have taken more time than any of the parties may have liked,” Redemption said. “We are very close to finalizing the settlement and are uncertain why Relentless has felt the need to involve the court and the media in something the parties are capable of resolving amongst themselves. Redemption looks forward to doing just that and to being a blessing to the Greenville community long into the future.”