A megachurch pastor is under fire for buying his wife a $200,000 Lamborghini, which he recently announced over social media to celebrate the couple’s eighth wedding anniversary.
Pastor John Gray defended the purchase after critics questioned whether the clergyman used church funds to pay for the car and others raised eyebrows over the opulent gift from a man of the cloth. Gray, a former associate pastor at Joel Osteen’s 17,000-seat, Houston-based Lakewood Church, now leads the congregation at Relentless Church in Greenville, South Carolina.
“It wasn’t a pastor who bought the car. It was a husband that bought the car. Get that in your spirit,” said Gray in a 23-minute Facebook Live video recorded over the weekend where he stood up to his detractors.
“I’m a husband first,” said Gray. “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.”
The social media firestorm ignited a week ago when Gray originally posted to Instagram a video that went viral but was later deleted, according to the Houston Chronicle. It showed the pastor surprising his wife, Aventer Gray, with the six-figure SUV, a Lamborghini Urus. Prove Magazine/Dear Black Men Network also captured Gray presenting the car to his wife in a Facebook video. In it, the pastor said, “You light my fire, let this Lamborghini light your fire, baby.”
In 2013, Gray, a former comedian and singer on the Christian talent circuit, joined Osteen’s flock as an associate pastor. Earlier this year, he left to lead Relentless Church. Gray remains affiliated with Osteen, according to the Lakewood Church website.
“Not a nickel, not a penny, from this church, Relentless Church, went toward the gift I gave my wife,” said Gray in the Facebook video. “That matters. That’s the only thing that matters cause I know like you know, there are some poor pulpit pimps out here that take church money and do the wrong thing, but I work hard for my family.”
Gray clarified he paid for the Lamborghini with monies he earned from other professional endeavors including book deals and the reality TV show The Book of John Gray, in which he and his wife star, on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Gray said he serves as a producer on the series entering its fourth season. He also credited being “wise with savings and investments.”
Last week, Aventer spoke up for her husband and her right to own the luxury vehicle. On Instagram, she posted: “I don’t see anyone screaming about how basketball players drive what they do while you pay $$$ to see them play in arenas and on fields. We don’t live for people! We live for God!” according to the Houston Chronicle.
In 2017, Gray defended preachers like Osteen who live posh lifestyles in an interview with the Greenville News. He said, in part: “My thing is, if you work hard and pay your taxes, then you should be able to live where you are able to afford.”
Osteen, who resides in a reportedly $10.5 million mansion, faced tremendous criticism last year when he shut the doors of Lakewood Church during Hurricane Harvey, something perceived by the public, the media, and other clergy members as abandoning the Houston community in its hour of need. Like Gray, Osteen responded to his critics. He said the church was prone to flooding and that city officials did not ask for his help. Osteen insisted that social media spun a “false narrative” that he and his church refused to help.