Too rich to be a preacher: SC pastor draws attention for living in $1.8M house paid for by church

Pastor John Gray, who leads Relentless Church in Greenville, South Carolina, is being slammed for the second time in two months after it was revealed he lives in a $1.8 million house paid by the church. Last December, he was also under fire for gifting his wife a Lamborghini.

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Optics. It’s never about what it is. It’s about what it looks like. My wife @grayceeme told me “If you go, no one will hear what you say. They won’t understand why you’re there. And any good that could come out of it will get lost in translation.” Wise words from a loving, discerning wife. I had not one thing to gain by being there. Not. One. But I asked the Lord when I was asked to be present in this initial meeting about potential prison reform-that could greatly end up benefitting many people who look just like me-Lord, Do you want me in that room? My first mind was no. The pain of so many is too real. The hurt. The isolation. The sense of disenfranchisement. The real hate that has bubbled to the surface of the national discourse. I myself have been vocal about my personal disagreements with key policy decisions of this administration. I have everything to lose. Credibility. Reputation. Every natural inclination says stay home. Don’t get played. It’s gonna be a photo op with no substance. But I did the one thing I can’t shake: I prayed again and asked God. Do you want me in that room? My attendance gives the answer. My heart was pure as was my motive and intention. But the pain of those who have been hurt is real. And I would be a dishonorable man not to acknowledge that. But I will honor what I believe was the mandate on my life to be there and available to God should He choose to give me voice. This post is in no way attempting to invalidate the visceral reaction of those who can’t imagine why I would be in the room. The question becomes who did Jesus turn away from? This said, I went to this meeting to listen. And I do pray for comprehensive prison reform so people can have the second chance they need. And I also understand the pain and questions. May my heart translate beyond the optics. (OH YEAH, the pastor who said the current president was the most pro-Black president ever WAS NOT ME-so get that STRAIGHT) love y’all. This post is closed to comments. This my heart. It needs no commentary. #swipeleft

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Gray, who’s famous for having a reality show on Oprah Winfrey’s Network titled “The Book of John,” is receiving critics from fellow churchgoers after a Greenville newspaper revealed the man and his family live in a 1.8 million house located about ten miles away from the Relentless Church.

According to an investigation made by the outlet, the 7,247 square feet property, located in the Southampton community in Simpsonville, was bought by Relentless as a church parsonage, meaning, a property that belongs entirely to the church and that Gray has to abandon if he leaves his role as pastor.

A PASTOR OF GRAY'S CALIBER

Travis Hayes, chief financial officer for Relentless, said that the fact a church offered housing to its pastor is not anything new. "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,” he said.

The median value of a house in the community is said to be of $165,600, so the Pastor’s house has the cost and size of about 25 homes in the neighborhood.

Hayes also explained that buying the property was a board decision that came about to ensure that a pastor of John Gray’s caliber would be willing to relocate and work from Greenville. “With anything, it’s about offering and attracting a senior pastor of Pastor John’s caliber with his presence on the world stage," he said.

THE LAMBORGHINI CONTROVERSY

Gray, who’s also an associate pastor at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, has declined comments about the housing situation.

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8 is the number of New beginnings. Last night @grayceeme and I celebrated what was and what shall be. Tell em babe... About last night... #graysr8... I thank God for the royal display that came from the epic imagination of Michelle Gainey @lemiga for Planning + Design + Day of Coordination/Management. She had every single detail covered and exactly what I wanted as well as things that I didn’t know how to articulate at all, she literally provided perfection with a team of elegant and quickly turning around, might I add, vendors. The floral by @cwaymandesign, the most beautiful tones and shades! The stationery by @paperedwonders was Unbelievable quality and regal and my God these photos, by @milanesphotography. We have only seen a portion of them with all of the ones posted here coming from her...THE BEST IN LIFE CAPTURES PERIOD! @realjohngray and I Thank you all for bringing the best to our Vow Renewal last evening! These treasures will be forever remembered and cherished! We can’t wait to utilize your expertise again however and whenever! THANK YOU! #swipeleft

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However, the man did defend his integrity last December, when he was frowned upon after gifting a Lamborghini to his wife, Aventer, on their wedding anniversary.

A video of the moment Gray presented his wife with the keys to the $200,000 vehicle caused an uproar in social media, with people criticizing the pastor for having such luxuries while people from their congregations are struggling.

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8 years. New beginnings. New hope. New life. And for her-a new whip. I put a faith deposit down in February and God helped me to make my wife’s dream come true. Why not? She’s made mine come true! #GodIsMyWitness #BookContract #HatersBeBlessed >>>>> This part is from @grayceeme.... RESTORE, REDO, RESET...LOOK WHAT GOD HAS DONE! From 12/11/10 til 12/11/18 There is something to be said about another try...you have had an experience, and it doesn’t mean you failed, it means you get to challenge yourself to start Anew! TODAY WE ARE 8 HUSBAND @realjohngray! My favorite #, your fav #...your book title, and so much more to us, but We utilized the 8th to have our vow renewal & our celebration display of love for OUR milestone 8 year Covenant to signify...and say again, our pledge to God in front of one another....about one another! Some asked why 8...8 represents resurrection and regeneration, moreover the beginning of a new era or that of a new order. YES GOD! I saved to give you one of the best gifts and a dream timepiece and my God, you blessed me, significantly when in Feb at the All-Star hotel, we sat in this phenomenal new SUV, then you allowed me to build one online and DREAM...not really believing it would happen for real, but then, we “WIN FROM WITHIN” Lololol &...It DID! I will never apologize for how hard we work and how we want to bless each other... PSALM 112:1-3... I love you. You are mine and I am yours. Thank you for taking care of me, for the past 8, and I trust the Lord by faith that for the next 88 you will do the same, so will I, and much more. Highs, lows, mistakes, misfortune, we are STILL HERE AND THE DEVIL IS MAD BECAUSE GOD GETS THE GLORY...with God all lead back to true love! There is no one I would rather do this life with than You! 😘 My heart, my soul, and my life I give to you AGAIN, and AGAIN by God’s order. Happy 8th Anniversary Boo! #WeareNumber8 #GraysR8 #ThisisUs #BlackLove #ComeHereLetMeWhisperSomethingToYouLOL #BestPart #SwipeLeft

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The 45-year-old took to Instagram and Facebook at the time to put an end to the speculations, with many people insinuating he used the church’s money to treat his wife.

“There’s a lot of stories going around about a gift that I gave to my wife, and I want to talk about it for a second…The stories that I heard… one of them said, ‘Pastor buys his wife, you know, this expensive car.’ First of all, it wasn't a pastor that bought the car. It was a husband that bought the car. Get that in your spirit. I’m a husband first, don’t confuse what I do with who I am.”

He proceeded to explain that, in his family, men never did right by their wives, and explained that after thinking about everything his wife has sacrificed for him, it was natural for him to bless her. He also addressed the rumors about using the church money, stating:

“I want to make it clear, not a nickel, not a penny, from this church, Relentless Church, went towards the gift that I made my wife.”

The Relentless church is said to have about 15,000 members, with at least 200,000 people watching their Sunday sermon every Sunday.

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