Pastor John Gray on Sunday returned to his Relentless Church in South Carolina after missing last week following reports that he and his congregation may need to find a new house of worship if threats of an eviction become reality. The church’s landlord has filed paperwork to initiate the eviction as he and Gray have reportedly disputed the terms of a lease in yet another controversy involving the pastor who has been accused of everything from marital infidelity to sympathizing with Donald Trump.
But if there was any confusion over Gray’s intentions for Relentless Church amid a possible eviction, he cleared it up and then some while addressing his congregation in the town of Greenville.
“God bless you, Relentless,” Gray said in his megachurch operated on property owned by fellow pastor Ron Carpenter. “We love you so much, and I’ll see you this week coming and the next week after that and the next week after that and the next week after that and the next week after that.”
The vow to return weekly seemed to be Gray’s strongest and most defiant statements about the situation following Carpenter’s Redemption Church filing paperwork with the court to announce its intention to evict Relentless Church over alleged unpaid amounts surrounding its lease.
A rep for Gray previously told NewsOne that the pastor “will be able to provide receipts of payment.”
Gray’s sermon on Sunday, entitled, “Friend Request,” seemed to take aim at Carpenter without actually saying his name.
“We have to be careful with who we call friends. I’m not allowing everybody to speak into me … In 2020, you have to set up some boundaries,” Gray said before continuing: “There are people who take my checks but don’t have my heart.”
Redemption Church last week asked Gray to show why Relentless Church should not be evicted, and a hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 31 to give Gray’s church a chance to do just that.
Gray said he skipped church last week to spend time with his wife, telling his congregation via recorded video address that was “pre-planned before there was a setup with a camera to serve papers to our church.”
It was unclear what “setup” Gray was referring to, but the Redemption Church filed documents in court on Jan. 2 to seek eviction, the start of a process that could – but reportedly hasn’t yet — lead to serving eviction papers to Relentless Church.
Redemption Church has alleged a breach of lease centering on a sports and fitness center on the property used by Relentless Church, incurring a debt that Redemption said it was forced to take over to avoid going into foreclosure.
Last week’s video address touched on it, but Sunday seemed to be the first time Gray spoke in person about the controversy to his congregation.
“We have paid what we owe, according to our agreement, and everything is going to be shared at the right time through the proper legal channels,” Gray said last week. “But until then, we, the Relentless Church, will continue to have service and we will maintain the moral high ground.”
The Greenville News reported last week that Gray had unsuccessfully tried to arrange new agreements, ultimately leaving Relentless Church on a month-to-month lease that expired as soon as it turned 2020 last week. That, in turn, prompted Redemption Church to file the papers on Thursday.
A statement sent on Jan. 2 to NewsOne on behalf of Gray said the pastor was “confident that the payment amounts required under the leases referenced in the complaint have and will continue to be paid” and that “efforts at mediation … have proven fruitless on [Redemption Church’s] end multiple times.”
Gray’s video address last week to his congregation also explained that he was not in church so he could take “a necessary day with my bride … to build my marriage so that it can be healthy and vibrant.”
In the past, Gray has been very open about his marriage, including an extra-marital affair he acknowledged during an interview on national TV. He also bought his wife a Lamborghini Urus, which is priced around $200,000, for their eight-year anniversary before defending the extravagance and subsequently denying plundering money from his church treasury to purchase the expensive vehicle.
Gray also denied to the women of “The Real” talk show that his affair resulted in a child being born outside of his marriage.
“There’s no baby, none of that. It’s important for me to take responsibility for the areas where I did come up short,” Gray said in March. “Sharing things about my marriage, outside of my wife and outside of trusted counselors, is an emotional affair. It was wrong. I take responsibility for that. But I will not take responsibility for that which I did not do.”
As far as Relentless Church’s possible eviction, there was no indication of how much money was allegedly owed. But in the recent past, Gray has gone to extreme lengths to maintain an air of wealth, like in April when he was wearing a pair of expensive Nike Air Yeezy sneakers, which have retailed for thousands of dollars. Gray, whose net worth is estimated to be about $7 million, also lives in a home that was purchased by Relentless Church for $1.8 million.