Ron Carpenter was promised $6.25M retirement payout in transition plan with John Gray, court docs say

Redemption Church Pastor Ron Carpenter Jr. (L) and Pastor John Gray of Relentless Church (R).
Redemption Church Pastor Ron Carpenter Jr. (L) and Pastor John Gray of Relentless Church (R). | Instagram/Ron Carpenter/John Gray

Redemption Church Pastor Ron Carpenter Jr. said he was promised a retirement package of $6.25 million to be made in annual payouts of $250,000 for 25 years in a failed transition agreement with fellow megachurch pastor John Gray of Relentless Church, court documents filed in South Carolina on Friday reveal.

The documents were filed in an ongoing eviction case between Carpenter and Gray over payments for the Relentless Church campus, owned by Carpenter.

Gray was given until the end of 2019 to take his church elsewhere amid allegations that he had been “shady” and “dishonest” in executing the controversial transition agreement with the Carpenters after they passed the reins of their Redemption Church campus to him in 2018. Gray had rebranded it as Relentless Church.

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Carpenter and his wife Hope then moved to San Jose, California, to officially become the new pastors of the 14,000-member Jubilee Christian Center, which they renamed Redemption.

According to a copy of the transition agreement cited by Greenville News, Gray was to take the role of senior pastor and then change the name of the church allowing Carpenter to take the "Redemption" name with him.

The agreement said the church’s board agreed to pay Carpenter an annual payment of $250,000 for 25 years as part of a $6.25 million retirement package. It also noted that Redemption Church also had a mortgage obligation of more than $12 million.

Redemption Church argued that Relentless Church failed to make mortgage payments to lenders, failed to pay Redemption when a lease agreement was made and failed to vacate the property as a tenant in default.

Relentless Church presented documentation, however, showing that monthly mortgage payments were being made and stated that Carpenter failed to make Gray senior pastor and president of the church he left behind without financial or legal issues. Since the transition did not take place, Gray created Relentless Church as a nonprofit entity and made lease payments to Redemption instead.

Carpenter argued in his court filing that Relentless never executed or delivered the lease agreements, making the agreements invalid. Relentless has argued that the agreements are indeed valid.

In a statement to Greenville News Friday, Gray insisted that Relentless Church continues to uphold their agreement.

"While the documents filed today show Relentless Church’s consistent payments under the written lease agreement, I always intended for our congregation to have a permanent place of worship," Gray noted. "After a year of being led to believe the properties would be transferred to Relentless, there were consistent excuses as to why the transfer could not occur, even amid investing more than $500,000 of Relentless Church funds on much needed repairs and maintenance to the site."

In an earlier report prior to Friday’s filings, Gray said in a statement that he attempted to meet face-to-face with Carpenter at least 10 times to settle the disagreement and the veteran megachurch pastor has refused.

Gray explained that Relentless Church’s documents show on the part of Redemption Church “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.”

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