Pastor John Gray is unrelenting, for lack of a better term, in his eviction dispute between his Relentless Church and Redemption Church. New court documents were filed in the case on Friday, according to a report from Greenville Online. However, in addition to Gray’s looming eviction due to allegations of failing to make payments, new details have been revealed indicating that there was a “failed transition” when Rev. Ron Carpenter – founded of Redemption, handed over the church to Gray, who renamed the church Relentless.
Within the documents filed in the dispute, there are details of a multi-million dollar payout that was promised to Carpenter per an allegedly agreed payment plan. There were additional claims of Redemption’s late payments, or no payments at all, for mortgages and other assets based on the back-and-forth over terms that were said to be outlined in lease agreements.
“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 said in a statement, according to Greenville Online. “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.”
Per documents filed by Redemption Church on Friday, Relentless has not made mortgage payments to lenders or Redemption when the lease agreement was created. The church has also failed to vacate the property.
Redemption’s mortgage totaled more than $12 million, according to the report.
Conversely, Relentless Church has filed documents of its’ own, which shows a history of monthly payments made to the mortgage. The documents specify that Carpenter did not hold up his end of the bargain and failed to adhere to promises he made to Pastor Gray in him becoming “senior pastor and president of the Greenville church in a seamless transition with no financial or legal issues.”
Though it appeared that Gray transitioned into his promised position, Greenville reports that the “transition of leadership never took place.”
The transition agreement was provided in court stating that Gray was going to acquire the role of senior pastor and change the name of the church, so that Carpenter could keep the “Redemption” name. The agreement also stated that Carpenter was to receive an annual payment of $250,000 for 25 years as part of a $6.25 million retirement package.
Redemption also claimed in the filings that “Relentless failed to make timely payments to cover the cost of the Imagine Center, the church-run fitness center on the campus.” Due to the alleged failed payment, there was a 100 percent spike in the amount of the initial payment after the mortgage lender did not receive a $500,000 annual principal reduction payment. The property was threatened with foreclosure as well.
The solvent was Redemption paying off the mortgage. They then required Relentless to pay $40,000 monthly instead of the original $18,603.25. Relentless refutes these claims, saying that the $40,000 monthly payment was not outlined in the original lease agreement.
Upwards of 100 documents were filed in the case including “lease agreements, affidavits from both churches’ chief financial officers, bank statements, financial ledgers, utility bills, lender letters and email correspondence over payment obligations and eviction dates.” It was also reported that Gray had past due payments on at least three vehicles. The leasing company for the vehicles urged Redemption to pay the owed amounts to avoid repossession.
Carpenter filed an affidavit stating that the original transition agreement was for Gray to assume to role of senior pastor, but Gray chose to purchase assets of the church through his nonprofit, Relentless.
Carpenter additionally said that because Relentless did not execute or deliver the lease agreement, the agreements were unenforceable. Relentless, however, claims the agreements were valid.
Gray has filed a counterclaim against Carpenter and his wife, Hope, accusing them of defamation and “harming his reputation.” The claim additionally states that Relentless paid more than $600,000 in building renovations to the Greenville campus.
“(Carpenter) told Gray the people loved him. No one would leave. He actually said, ‘You will clear all the other black churches out,” said Gray’s counterclaim.
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