A former pastor from a South Carolina megachurch on Sunday defended the church's controversial current lead pastor, who during an impassioned guest sermon said "I cut people" in an apparent threat directed at a local news outlet.

The Greenville News had been reporting on recent controversies centering around John Gray, the current pastor of Relentless Church, whose purchase of a $200,000 Lamborghini for his wife drew backlash.


Former pastor Hope Carpenter apparently took issue with the reporting. Toward the end of her address during the Sunday sermon, video of which was posted to YouTube, she said, “I love you Pastor John and Pastor Aventer. I believe in you. I’m praying for you. I’m rooting for you,” before adding, “I cut people. I got a knife right in that pocketbook. Greenville News, come on. We done went through this."

The closing message drew a loud applause and cheer from the crowd. The video of the sermon was first reported by The Greenville News.

Carpenter previously served as co-pastor of the church with her husband, Ron Carpenter, when it was known as Redemption Church.

Gray’s wife and co-pastor, Aventer Gray, in the video appeared shocked by Carpenter’s remarks.

"The Greenville News strives to cover every organization in our community in a fair and unbiased way," Katrice Hardy, Executive Editor of the Greenville News, told The Hill in a statement. "Our coverage of Relentless church has included stories ranging from the church's assistance in helping launch an emergency homeless shelter in Pickens County to the way that the church has used its resources."

John Gray defended his purchase of the luxury car for his wife while pushing back against critics who raised suggestions about whether he bought the car with church money. 

"God helped me to make my wife's dream come true," Gray said in a social media post late last year. "Why not? She's made mine come true!"

Gray previously served as associate pastor at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston until taking over Relentless Church in 2018 following the Carpenter’s relocation, according to the Greenville News.

Carpenter has also found herself in controversy, most recently for criticizing NFL players who knelt during the national anthem, according to The State.