A South Carolina megachurch pastor made a bizarre threat to a local newspaper during Sunday service, saying she had a knife and “I cut people.”
Hope Carpenter, a visiting pastor at Relentless Church in Greenville, South Carolina, initially shared a lengthy word of exhortation Sunday with the congregation to “hold fast to your confession of faith,” but she issued an unexpected challenge to daily newspaper The Greenville News at the end of the message.
Carpenter’s knife comment seemed to be facetious, however, her antagonistic attitude toward the newspaper likely came in response to the outlet’s series of stories that drew attention to Relentless Church Senior Pastor John Gray’s questionable financial decisions. (RELATED: California Police Shoot Man Dead Who Entered Church Of Scientology With Sword)
“I cut people. I got a knife right in that pocketbook,” Carpenter said, according to The Washington Post.
“Greenville News, come on. We done went through this. I’m still here, and guess who else is still going to be here?” she added, pointing to Gray and his wife Aventer Gray, also a senior pastor at the church.
The Greenville News revealed in December 2018 that John Gray bought a $200,000 Lamborghini as an anniversary gift for Aventer Gray and reported in January that Relentless Church bought a $1.8 million house for the Grays. John Gray took to Facebook Live after the outlet published its December story, claiming that he spent “not a nickel, not a penny” of church funds on the anniversary gift for his wife.
The local news outlet further reported that John Gray told his congregation in March that the church was indebted for millions of dollars and asked congregants to donate $250,000 to repair the church building’s roof. He offered to pay $300 of that himself and urged his congregation to raise the rest of the sum by April 3.
John Gray also appeared on March 11 on daytime talk show “The Real,” in which he addressed rumors that he had an extramarital affair. He said he had an emotional affair but not a sexual one and defended his meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, according to The Greenville News.
John Gray faced criticism for accepting the meeting and said that, while he believed it would be “unwise” to accept another invitation, he met with Trump in 2018 for a discussion about how church leaders could partner with the government in reducing recidivism rates and helping former inmates to reintegrate into society.
“That’s critical to me because most of the people in those jails look like me. And when they come out, they can’t get a job and they can’t vote and they need to be able to do both,” he said.
“So that’s why I was there. That was my purpose,” he added.
Relentless Church spokeswoman Holly Baird distanced the church from Carpenter’s comments, saying church leaders didn’t know what she was going to say and that, while they understood Carpenter’s comments to be facetious, they did not condone anything that could be interpreted as encouragement to commit violence.
“Neither our pastors or anyone in our leadership would agree with any type of communication that would encourage or incite violence against another individual or entity,” Baird’s statement to WaPo read. “While we believe Pastor Hope was joking, we completely understand how her comments could be received in today’s climate. There is no place in our society for words that could fan the flames of discord.”
Greenville News Executive Editor Katrice Hardy did not directly address Carpenter’s comments but said that the news outlet aims to “cover every organization in our community in a fair and unbiased way,” according to WaPo.
To that end, Hardy pointed out The Greenville News reported Friday that the church is raising funds to support Pickens County’s first emergency shelter for the homeless.
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