Pastor John Gray was a no-show in his megachurch on Sunday, just days after it was reported that steps were being taken to evict the house of worship in South Carolina. But he was there in spirit when a video showed him from a remote location delivering a defiant message of reassurance to his congregation amid apparent uncertainty surrounding the future of Relentless Church.
Without going too deep into details, Gray calmly explained on the video that his absence 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 on Thursday the Redemption Church, which owns the property that Relentless Church has been leasing, filed documents in court to seek eviction, the start of a process that could – but hasn’t yet — lead to serving eviction papers to a tenant.
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.
Sunday marked the first time that the pastor had publicly spoken about the controversy in person.
“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,” said Gray, who has vehemently defended his association with President Donald Trump. “But until then, we, the Relentless Church, will continue to have service and we will maintain the moral high ground.”
Gray went on to say he was “greatly grieved that there would be anyone or any spirit that would seek to harm a church open in the name of Jesus.” Chances are he was talking about Ron Carpenter, a pastor who owns the same Redemption Church that filed court papers in an apparent effort to begin eviction proceedings against Relentless.
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.
Gray’s video address Sunday 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.”