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.
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.
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.
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.