Relentless Church is accusing Redemption Church of not following the terms of a settlement negotiated late last year following a lengthy legal dispute over property rights between the two megachurches in Greenville.
In a court filing last week, the Pastor John Gray-led Relentless Church made a motion asking officials to force Redemption Church to adhere to the terms of the settlement agreement that came about in October 2020 to resolve a dispute about mortgage payments and property rights.
The contentious dispute had centered on lease agreements and financial obligations for property off Haywood Road, where the Pastor Ron Carpenter-led Redemption Church had sought to evict Relentless early last year. Hundreds of pages of statements, memorandums, contracts and receipts were filed in court. A transition agreement disclosed that Carpenter would be entitled to a $6.25 million retirement payout after leaving the property in the hands of Gray.
The terms of the settlement that the churches ultimately negotiated were not disclosed by the churches, and they are not subject to disclosure by the court.
“Relentless seeks only to enforce the clear and unambiguous terms of the Agreement which is now being met with resistance by Redemption,” Relentless’ new court filing states.
Gray’s attorney Devon Puriefoy declined Tuesday to specify what Relentless is alleging since “the terms of the mediation are confidential,” but he said they are urging Redemption to comply with those terms so the case can “get through the finish line.”
Katari Buck, an attorney for Redemption Church, emailed a statement to The Greenville News Tuesday saying Redemption has been working since October 2020 to fulfill the agreement.
“Though we cannot discuss specific terms of the confidential agreement, there are necessary actions to finalize the agreement that involve obligations to third parties that have taken more time than any of the parties may have liked,” Buck said in the statement. “We are very close to finalizing the settlement and are uncertain why Relentless has felt the need to involve the court and the media in something the parties are capable of resolving amongst themselves. Redemption looks forward to doing just that and to being a blessing to the Greenville community long into the future.“
Puriefoy has told The Greenville News that Relentless considered the settlement a win.
“Relentless is remaining on the property and will not be moving,” Puriefoy told The News in October 2020. “We certainly view it as a prevailing mediation for Relentless.”
In 2018, Carpenter announced he was moving his Redemption ministry to San Jose, California, and he asked Gray to take over the Greenville campus and transform it into his own church. Gray and Relentless began leasing the property.
Carpenter has since returned to South Carolina to open Redemption East at the Greenville Convention Center while maintaining his California location. A grand opening event is planned for Jan. 31 in Greenville, according to the Redemption East website.
Redemption took legal action in January 2020 to evict Relentless from the Greenville campus, claiming Relentless had not adhered to its financial obligations to occupy the property. The eviction case went on for 10 months before a settlement came out of mediation.
Relentless’ motion filed last week claims that Redemption has more recently made “attempts to include substantive changes to the Agreement, which serve only to undermine its original intent.”
Relentless is asking the courts to intervene in carrying out the settlement agreement, the court filing states.
“Last year, Relentless Church and Redemption Church met in good faith and both parties were able to reach an amicable agreement that allowed both churches to focus on their true mission — to serve the spiritual livelihoods of the Greenville community,” Relentless spokesperson Anne Torres said in an emailed statement Tuesday. “Relentless has made every effort to be a partner in faith to Redemption but unfortunately, this has become a distraction to the work the Church has done in the Greenville community and beyond. Simply put, our community and congregations deserve better. It is our hope that Redemption leadership accepts and abides by the terms of our original agreement so that we can all move forward.”
SOURCE: Greenville News, Daniel J. Gross