GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) – Pastor John Gray spent the first three and a half minutes of his Sunday sermon addressing the rumors and headlines surrounding an eviction letter that Relentless Church received this week from an attorney for Redemption World Outreach.
Pastor Gray told the congregation that the leases and bills are paid. “We’re not being evicted because we’ve paid the bills,” he said.
Pastor Gray told church members that the process of transitioning the two churches has been legally complicated. He said it is his hope that both sides will come to an amicable resolution.
He also expressed disappointment that information in the letter was leaked to the media because he does not want the process to play out publicly. He told the congregation he will not engage in mudslinging and does not want the congregation to do so either.
“We are the body of Christ and all of this is a distraction because the enemy wants us to fight each other instead of fighting him,” he said.
Here is the full statement Pastor Gray made before the congregation:
Maybe y’all been watching the news. But I’d like to say a couple of things about some of the things that you have heard. First of all, to what I believe is one of the most critical elements, I have heard that we were being evicted. Anyone who has ever been evicted knows that that is a public record. We are not being evicted. (Applause) Hold on. We’re not being evicted because we’ve paid the bills. I want this to be very clear that there has been, from the beginning of this transition when Pastor Ron handed me the keys, a very complicated process and many of the processes and procedures in the intermarriage of the two churches has a lot of legal components and in that process, we’ve been quietly working behind the scenes. And it is unfortunate that something has been shared with outlets outside of the body of Christ. My point in making you aware is this: from our clear understanding of where we are in this process, I want to make it clear that we have paid all lease payments on all these buildings. And, to clarifiy, in one of the statements it said ‘all bills are paid’, well we have accounts payable, so it’s never ‘all bills are paid’. Before I got here, all bills weren’t paid. Ok, so we pay as we go, so there are bills. I want to make that clear, but these buildings have been paid according to our agreement. I also want to say this: I did not come here as a lease person. I did not, that’s not what I came here for. And so, we are working to get resolution and I am not going to adjudicate this in the public. I’m not going to dishonor God by mudslinging. We may have some fundamental differences of our understanding of where we are, but no one is to disrespect, trash, dishonor Redemption, Relentless, me, my wife, Pastor Ron, Pastor Hope or anybody in between. We are the body of Christ and all of this is a distraction because the enemy wants us to fight each other instead of fighting him. It is my hope - and we are working – that Pastor Ron and I and the churches can come to an amicable understanding as we move forward. But I thank God for the global church and I want to make this clear: I’m not fighting and I will never be a part of a church split. We’re not going to dishonor God and we’re going to love each other. We’re going to love Christ. And if people want to talk about me, bless ‘em. They can say what they want but we’re not being evicted and we’re going to continue to work and figure out an amicable solution.
The letter from Redemption’s attorney gave Relentless an eviction date of December 31.
In Sunday's service, Pastor Gray said that there will be two New Year’s Eve services at Relentless on December 31, further making the point that the church will not be evicted. One service will be at 7 p.m. and one at 10 p.m.
Pastor Gray addressed it in his Sunday service as well:
“Perhaps you’ve heard some news and some rumblings regarding our church. So let me give you a very quick synoptic background of where we are.
On May 18th of 2018, Pastor Ron Carpenter handed me keys. And it was in that moment and it was our full understanding and belief that we were being handed the assets to this church.
Through a number of complications, a legal process had to begin not long after that moment and it is, even up to this moment, very necessary to be wise in what I share, but I will say this: it is clear that Pastor Ron and Redemption and Pastor John and Relentless, though we are brothers and sisters in Christ and we are sister churches, we have a fundamental misunderstanding about certain legal aspects of this relationship agreement. I want for those who have heard that we are being evicted to hear this: If anyone has ever been evicted – and I’ve got a couple cousins (laughter) – anyone who knows that is public record. That is something that must go through courts. There is no paperwork that has been filed for Relentless Church to be evicted from these premises. So we are (applause), I want to make that very clear. Because the transfer of the assets was not able to take place at the beginning of our agreement, there is a lease that is in place and we are actively pursuing a place of understanding and mutual agreement so that both parties feel honored. But I want you to hear this very clearly that I am not going to adjudicate this in the press. I am not going to dishonor Pastor Ron, Pastor Hope, Redemption Church. I am not going to take part in mudslinging. But I want you to understand that, as this process works itself out, there are a couple of things you need to know: based on our understanding of where we are, the payments for the building you are in and these buildings, we are paying and have paid and will continue to pay until such time as God says not to.
I do want to bring a clarifying statement because some may have read that we said, ‘all bills are paid and the leases are paid’. The ‘all bills are paid’ is not accurate because we have accounts payable just like any other business or ministry. There were bills when I got here and there are bills since I’ve been here. I am not going to go further into detail other than to say this: it is my hope and prayer that the chasm of misunderstanding will be met and be filled by the Holy Spirit so that the devil is put under our feet, so that the church globally can be honored. But if you are part of Relentless Church, what we are not going to do is be ugly, dishonorable, unkind, disrespectful to anyone here, at Redemption, Pastor Ron, Pastor Hope, their leadership, nothing. I will not be a part of that. That is not God. It is not Christ. It is not the body of Christ. I want to say a lot more, but it’s time for the word of God. And here’s what I want to do. We’re going to break this devil in half right now. Though we may have legal misunderstandings, I know that the root of this is spiritual. And the spiritual root has nothing to do with people. We have offended a principality. And I also want to say that even though Vision Sunday is next week, ‘cause a lot of the questions you want answered today, you’re just going to have to come next week.
Tell somebody you have to be here next week. It is my hope that by next week, we have come to an amicable, honorable conclusion to this matter, to these matters. But until then, know this: the Relentless Church will be a church in Greenville as long as God says so and as long as there’s breath in this body. We’re not casting vision to leave the city. We’re gonna be in Greenville. So please rest your mind and be encouraged. And to the principality that wants to dishonor the church and discredit the name of God and the people of God, I bind you in the name of Jesus. And I declare that out of this will be the church’s finest hour. And this is my prayer: that we will actually be the body of Christ in this moment. That we will give no room for the enemy to rejoice. Or for people who are on the fence, who may want to one day become saved to look and say, ‘well, they couldn’t get it together, so why should I even try their Jesus.’ This is about souls. That’s all that matters and everything else will be worked out according to your will. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Lawyers representing Relentless Church filed a response on Thursday after the church had received a termination letter referencing what a church spokesperson called a false verbal agreement between former Redemption pastor Ron Carpenter and current Relentless pastor John Gray.
The letter was a 30-day termination notice of a non-residential lease that was sent to Relentless on Nov. 27, according to a response from the law firm representing Gray.
Holly Baird, a spokesperson representing Relentless clarified, the letter was not an eviction notice.
“There is absolutely no eviction notice, Baird said. “They have not been served and they are current with every financial obligation as outlined by the leases they are under.”
Baird added, “A termination letter referencing a false VERBAL agreement was sent. The letter did NOT however reference the actual signed lease agreement in which Redemption/ Ron Carpenter is in violation of not honoring amongst many other things. The Grays are current with both of their leases.”
According to the legal response, the lawyers for Gray claim Carpenter did not follow through with all the terms of the terms they initially set in the transition agreement when Gray took over the church in Greenville.
The legal response also mentions a message that Carpenter’s wife, Hope, reportedly sent to members of Relentless’ congregation, which the lawyers claim included several defamatory statements about Gray.
The lawyers conclude by stating there is hope that both sides can sit down together to resolve the issue reasonably. If not, the lawyers say Gray and his church will have no choice but to protect their reputations.
“They cannot sit back while such defamatory and untrue statements are being purposely spread,” the attorneys’ letter states.
FOX Carolina has reached out to Carpenter and Redemption for their side of the story but have not yet received a response.
Click here to read the full response from Gray's attorneys.