Religion

SC megachurch pastor admits ‘emotional affair’ — but says he did not cheat on his wife

S.C. megachurch pastor John Gray, second from left, and his wife Aventer, left, appeared on “The Real.”
S.C. megachurch pastor John Gray, second from left, and his wife Aventer, left, appeared on “The Real.” YouTube Screen Grab

The South Carolina megachurch pastor who drew criticism when he bought his wife a $200,000 Lamborghini as an anniversary present last December, denied cheating on her in a national television appearance.

Seated next to his wife, Aventer, John Gray answered a question from one of the hosts of “The Real” about having an affair.

The answer is no. I didn’t,” video posted on YouTube shows Gray saying on the talk show that aired Monday. He also denied fathering a child as a result of an affair, saying “There’s no baby, none of that.”

Gray, whose Relentless Church is based out of Greenville, has said in the past that he failed his wife before giving her the expensive car, The State reported. On “The Real,” Gray reiterated that the couple had been “in a very difficult place in our marriage.”

Gray admitted to having an “emotional affair.”

He told the talk show hosts it occurred during the marital problems “over a year ago.”

“It’s important for me to take responsibility for the areas where I did come up short,” Gray explained of intimately speaking with someone who wasn’t a counselor or pastor, video shows. “Sharing things about my marriage, outside of my wife and outside of trusted counselors, is an emotional affair. It was wrong. I take responsibility for that. But I will not take responsibility for that which I did not do.”

On the show, the pastor admitted he was “in the presence of that person one time.” Gray quickly clarified it was not a sexual encounter. “But being in the presence of someone is not the same as sleeping with them. I did not sleep with anyone.”

With Aventer nodding in agreement, Gray told the hosts that he and his wife “have peace,” with their relationship, even if outsiders disagree.

One major issue that has been raised is the Lamborghini, Gray’s extravagant gift to Aventer on their eighth wedding anniversary. When he was asked if any church funds were used to buy the Italian sports car, Gray answered emphatically.

“Not one cent. Not one cent,” Gray said as he waved a finger in the air, insisting the money to pay for the car did not come from any source other than his life savings. “This is a husband blessing his wife, because that is what a man should do — within his means.”

In the video, Gray said he has other streams of revenue outside the church, including money made from a book and a TV show.

During his appearance on “The Real,” Gray was also asked about another minor controversy, when he visited the White House and met with President Donald Trump.

Gray was part of a group of black pastors from across the United States, who sat with the president in August 2018, in an event the White House called Trump’s “Meeting with Inner City Pastors.”

The Relentless Church pastor was criticized for going, and admitted the decision to sit, speak and pray with Trump was not an easy one to make, saying he was aware of the “optics” of the situation, The State reported.

On the talk show, Gray said he understood why some people would be hurt that he visited the White House.

“There are a lot of painful policies and initiatives that directly affect black and brown people,” Gray said on “The Real.”

When asked if he would go back to see the president, Gray said, “I don’t think that that would be wise, but I do pray for this country.”

Gray previously was a pastor at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Texas, WSPA reported. He also is the star of a reality TV show on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network, according to its website.

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.

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