John Gray, a pastor at Relentless Church in Greenville, South Carolina, is not backing down about using personal funds to buy his wife an extravagant anniversary gift, despite major social media and local backlash.
Gray took to #Facebook Live and said “not a nickel, not a penny” from his church was spent on a $200,000 Lamborghini Urus he bought his wife, Aventer Gray, for their 8th wedding anniversary. He expressed that as long as what he does is “honorable, ethical and not illegal,” it’s nobody‘s business how he decides to express love to his wife. He said the funds to purchase the Vehicle came from his book deal, a reality show on #OWN, his savings and “wise investments.”
In the live video, Gray states, “The stories that I hear, and I’ve tried to not listen to it, but one of them is, ‘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. I’m a husband first. Don’t confuse what I do with who I am. What I do is, I pastor God’s people. Who I am is a husband and a father, and I’ll do anything to honor them, and I won’t ask permission from anybody to do it.”
After the video surfaced online, many began to link Gray to the “prosperity gospel”, a Christian teaching that suggests God wants all Christians to be prosperous and that material wealth is a sign of God’s favor. Gray denies the idea that he was a “prosperity preacher” and said that the gift stemmed from wanting to make his wife happy.
The pastor said the idea for the Lamborghini Urus came about when the couple saw a presentation about the “fastest SUV in the world” at a hotel. “I saw my wife’s eyes light up. She said, ‘This would be a dream,’ and that’s all she had to say to me.” He said he then spent the next 10 months planning how to buy her dream vehicle, which typically sells for $240,000 or more with options.
Aventer Gray, who is also a pastor, came to her husband’s defense on social media, stating, “I don’t see anyone screaming about how basketball players drive what they do while you paying $$$ to see them play in arenas and on fields…” In the since-deleted Instagram post, she continued, “We don’t live for people! We live for God!”
The speculations regarding how churches allocate their funds has been widespread in recent years. Do you think pastors keep church money and personal money separate?