Pastor John Gray caused Lakewood Church senior pastor Joel Osteen to break down in tears upon telling him about his desire to leave his role at the Houston, Texas, megachurch for a new opportunity, according to a video published online.
Gray, the first Black pastor to join the leadership staff at Lakewood Church, also became emotional as he broke the news to Osteen, as seen in the video excerpt of an episode of his reality show, “The Book of John,” aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Osteen, who is known to occasionally get emotional when he preaches, soon composed himself, however, and offered his blessings to Gray.
Gray officially took over pastors Ron and Hope Carpenter’s Redemption Church in Greenville, South Carolina, on May 6.
Under Gray’s leadership, the megachurch has been renamed Relentless Church.
During the emotional transition service on Sunday, Gray specifically highlighted how race made the handover especially significant.
“I just wanted the devil to see how badly he lost. In a time when the nation is still so divided by class and by race, here, on a Sunday morning, [W]hite pastors just handed over their life’s work … to [B]lack pastors. In South Carolina. Hello, Relentless,” Gray said.
Greenville News reports Gray received “thunderous applause” for his remarks.
It is worth noting, however, that the Carpenters’ Redemption Church has long been home to a multiethnic congregation. The megachurch was covered by The New York Times due to its diverse membership and political divisions a month after Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States.