The former pastor of a South Carolina megachurch now headed by embattled Pastor John Gray returned to the Greenville church on Sunday to deliver a boisterous guest sermon, in which she threatened violence against a local newspaper.
Hope Carpenter, who led Relentless Church in Greenville with her husband, Ron Carpenter, before the pair relocated to a Bay Area church in California last May, voiced support for the church’s current pastors, John and Aventer Gray, who have been the topic of controversy regarding their reported use of the church’s finances to fund their lavish home, an alleged extramarital affair and John Gray gifting his wife with a $200,000 Lamborghini in 2018.
Just last week, Gray faced criticism for asking his congregation to foot the bill for $200,000 worth of repairs to the church’s roof.
Carpenter, who spoke at the 8:30 a.m. Sunday service, urged the congregation to “hold fast to your confession of faith, no matter the storms that may come.
“I love you, Pastor John and Pastor Aventer. I believe in you,” Carpenter began. “I’m praying for you. I’m rooting for you.”
It wasn’t long before she turned her attention to The Greenville News, which has been consistent in reporting on the scandals surrounding Gray and Relentless Church.
“I cut people. I got a knife right in that pocketbook,” Carpenter continued in video posted to the church’s YouTube page. “Greenville News, come on. We done went through this. I’m still here, and guess who else is still gonna be here?” She then pointed to the Grays.
On Sunday, The Greenville News noted that its coverage of Gray hasn’t been all negative and said it has “published stories about John Gray and Relentless Church repeatedly encouraging those in need to take money from the church offering plates,” along with other stories highlighting the church’s philanthropy and efforts to promote racial healing nationwide.
Since taking over the church last year, however, Gray has found himself at the center of multiple controversies involving both his personal and professional life. Gray, a former associate pastor for Texas televangelist Joel Osteen, made headlines in December 2018 when he gifted his wife with a Lamborghini, valued at almost $200,000, for their eighth wedding anniversary.
Backlash was swift, but the pastor insisted no church funds were used to purchase the pricey vehicle.
Gray was thrust back into the headlines in January after The Greenville News followed up on a reader tip and revealed the pastor was living in a $1.8 million home in Simpsonville that was financed by the church. Travis Hays, chief financial officer for Relentless Church, told the newspaper that the parsonage is what was needed to attract a preacher of Gray’s “caliber” to Greenville at the time, and suggested there was nothing out of the ordinary about the arrangement.
“This was a board decision that was made at the highest level and absolutely in line with bringing in a John Gray-level pastor to come and minister and work here and live here,” Hays said, adding: “This is a practice that is done with every denomination in the nation. That’s what this is. This is an asset that belongs to the church.”
On March 11, Gray and his wife, Aventer, appeared on morning talk show “The Real” to address rumors that Gray had cheated and fathered a love child with another woman. The pastor took responsibility for what he called an “emotional affair” but denied sleeping with anyone.
“Over a year ago, my wife and I were in a very difficult place in our marriage, and in that time I began to converse with someone other than a counselor, other than a pastoral leader,” Gray explained. “I did not sleep with anyone, there’s no baby, there’s none of that.”
The embattled pastor found himself issuing repeated denials after his alleged mistress, who remains unnamed, leaked damning voicemails that seemed to suggest their extramarital affair was more than just an emotional one.
Carpenter, who now leads the Redemption Bay Area church with husband, is no stranger to controversy either. The California pastor made headlines in 2017 after she criticized NFL players who took a knee during the national anthem to protest racism and police violence. In a Facebook post, she wrote: “The national anthem is our nations song! Yes there are things in our country that’s wrong but our country is not to blame! You don’t like it? Move or be apart of the healing of our nation. This will not fix racism! Duh!!!”
Ron Carpenter, who was reported to be a victim of his own wife’s cheating scandal, later apologized for his wife’s remarks.
Watch more in the video below.