Redemption Church Pastor Ron Carpenter has announced that he is returning to Greenville, South Carolina, with a new campus in 2021 to provide a spiritual home for former congregants who are now in distress after a botched handover of his longtime church in that city to fellow megachurch leader John Gray.
“I … want you to be ready to welcome a new addition to the family. I think many of you know Hope and I spent 27 years on the East Coast before we were blessed and privileged to come and be your pastors on the West Coast. But we had some things that we felt like we were responsible for and that we needed to go back and pick up. They were not handled exactly like we thought they were going [to] in succession and it left a lot of people who love Redemption, who love this ministry kind of disenfranchised and without a home,” Carpenter said in an announcement posted on YouTube Friday.
“You’ll find out something about me. I’m a very responsible person. And I don’t like people to live within decisions that I made that has caused them to be distressed. So we’re going to be opening up a new campus.”
The announcement comes more than two years 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 are now locked in a contentious eviction lawsuit with Gray, whose lawyers argued earlier this year that it 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 a response earlier this year to Carpenter’s lawsuit to evict him and Relentless Church from Redemption’s properties in Greenville.
“Now that the Grays and their staff have greatly increased attendance, increased giving, made $500,000.00 in repairs to buildings that have never been transferred as promised, cut expenses, tightened up accounting controls, reduced accounts payable by over 75% and even paid bills for Redemption that Relentless had no obligation to pay, Carpenter now wants to come back because the ministry is now in much better financial condition,” they added.
Gray was given until the end of 2019 to take his church elsewhere amid allegations that he had been “shady” and “dishonest” in executing a transition agreement with the Carpenters after he took over the Redemption Church campus in 2018.
The Carpenters reportedly carried a debt of $8,715,250 on the church sanctuary used by Gray with a monthly mortgage of $69,994. They also carried a debt of $3,720,649.48 on The Imagine Center gym. The monthly interest-only mortgage payment would be $18,603.25 with an annual principal payment of $500,000.
Gray’s lawyers argued that while Carpenter claimed in October 2017 that "God spoke to Ron three times and told him to call John Gray" to pass him the church, Carpenter had asked two other ministers who turned him down before approaching Gray to take over in Greenville.
It was later discovered that Redemption and Ron Carpenter were in no position to enter into a transition agreement with Gray because the International Pentecostal Holiness Church claimed an interest in the Imagine Center due to Carpenter using it as collateral to secure a $3 million loan from IPHC.
In his video Friday, Carpenter appealed to his parishioners to continue giving money to his ministry, noting that they had not planned for the pandemic to wear on for as long as it has. He further noted that the new Greenville campus, which he hopes to open in January 2021, is part of a push to make Redemption Church a national brand like Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church or Brian Houston’s Hillsong Church.
“We have a lot of tenure there, we believe we still have a lot of influence there and for those that want to be a part of Redemption we want to give them a place they can call home,” Carpenter said.
“You’ve heard of the Lakewoods nationally, you’ve heard of the Hillsongs nationally, what if God wants to make Redemption a national church? We’ve had a lot of national preachers, I’ve done that since 2009, but I don’t believe that we’re looking for a great preacher anymore. I believe the world is looking for a great people. And I believe that you are a great people and I believe we can expand across the nation and have campuses on the West Coast and on the East Coast and God can make the ministry great,” he continued.
The Christian Post reached out to Redemption Church for further comment regarding the lawsuit with Relentless Church on Monday but a response was not immediately available.