Rolling Out

Aventer Gray reveals the key to connecting with the soul of a woman

Aventer Gray gives an update on her marriage to Pastor John Gray
Aventer Gray (Photo credit: Jeremiah Drummond)

Being the first lady of a church comes with weighty responsibilities. So, when Aventer Gray accepted her husband John Gray’s marriage proposal over 13 years ago, she had no idea how much would be expected of her as a pastor’s wife.

“I said ‘yes’ to him, and a whole lot more came with that,” she laughs.

Unlike some pastors’ wives, Gray co-pastors LoveStory Church along with her husband. She is also the mother of their two children and a respected and beloved mentor to countless women who have connected with her through her faith-based work and commitments.

The church, formerly known as Relentless Church, was renamed LoveStory Church as God revealed to the couple and church leaders that the needs of their congregants and the focus of their ministry were changing and evolving with time.

“John shared [that] God gave him ‘Relentless’ years ago, but what we understand is that different times often require different things,” Gray says.

The LoveStory matriarch hopes the church’s new name will inspire members to concentrate on God’s unconditional love for them and share that love with one another, members and nonmembers alike. LoveStory’s name and mission also hold special significance on a more intimate level for the Grays, who have come under fire over the years for marital indiscretions and multiple charges of infidelity. Aventer Gray, however, makes it clear that while her spousal commitment is to her husband, she is first and foremost committed to her relationship with God.

“We’ve gone through a lot and if you look at it through your natural eyes, at first, of course, you want to run, but God showed me there was more to my husband than met the eye. We’re dealing with someone with a history of abuse without a safe space to heal. When I saw that, it helped me empathize. It’s not an excuse, but it gave me some clarity about my husband,” she explains.

Today, as Gray is preparing for her upcoming women’s symposium, Relish Women’s Conference: The Soul of a Woman, she is happy to affirm that after much prayer, therapy and patience, her marriage is in a great place.

“Today we are good. I don’t know what tomorrow or the future will bring, but every day we are working on our marriage and ourselves,” she says. “So many times we are pointing the finger at our spouse and we don’t realize there is some work that’s needed on us. Over the last year, I’ve done some serious work on Aventer. If I’m not mentally in a good place, I’m not able to show up for my family or my ministry. I’ve learned that it’s much more impactful when people see you being honest about where you are. They can relate to you from that place, and we help each other grow.”

Gray, who had contemplated hosting a women’s conference in the past to encourage and uplift other women, said that until recently she was reluctant to undertake such a momentous event because the timing wasn’t right. Besides not being sure if she could stand up for others, she says she wasn’t in a place where she could stand up for herself.

“I wanted to do this last year, but the time wasn’t right. Honestly, I wasn’t in a great place. I needed some time. It’s very important to be honest with yourself on what your needs are before you go trying to pour into others,” Gray says.

Aventer Gray reveals the key to connecting with the soul of a woman
Aventer and John Gray with their children (Photo credit: Jeremiah Drummond)

Once the personal and vocational components began to fall in place, Gray eagerly set about reaching out to women she knew cared about other women. She enlisted her friends; Pastor Tammy Franklin, singer LeToya Luckett, and actress Crystal Renee Hayslett to help bring her dream to fruition. Pastor Kristin Jordan of Master Peace Church, bestselling author and TV and radio host Nicole Crank, and Pastor Mary Searight of Abundant Life Family Worship Church will also speak at the Relish Women’s Conference.

Gray wants women to come to the conference for assistance in every area of their lives. The healing and learning event will focus on restoration through sisterhood and helping women realize their potential. She says the goal of Relish is to nourish attendees’ souls with fresh purpose, revitalizing their paths in faith, family, mental health, and overall well-being. Gray hints that there will be special experiences for attendees, including workshops and opportunities to connect with other women who share similar goals in life.

“I want to offer a sanctuary and transformative event for women across the nation and beyond, in Greenville, South Carolina. Many women strive to embody the admirable qualities of the Proverbs 31 woman, balancing numerous tasks and responsibilities. However, it is very common to feel overwhelmed and need a little extra support and spiritual renewal. In 3 John 1:2 [it] states, ‘I wish above all things that thou may prosper and be in good health, even as thy soul prospers.’ At LoveStory Church and the Relish Conference, we provide a nurturing community where women can recharge and rediscover their spiritual and mental well-being,” Gray concludes.

Photography by Jeremiah Drummond

Relish Women’s Conference: The Soul of a Woman will take place April 18-21, 2024, in Greenville, South Carolina, at LoveStory (formerly Relentless) Church located at 635 Haywood Road, Greenville, SC 29607. Gray says every woman in attendance is guaranteed a soul-stirring experience if she comes expecting a breakthrough.

2 Responses

  1. Good afternoon Aventer Gray, I’ve always been a really big admirer of u. This is going to be a wonderful event for the women. We as black women go through a lot during our marriage. I’m one of those women. Anyway this is really important for all of us. And we can learn something from the event. I’m glad to know that you’re in a good place now.

  2. Pastor Aventer,

    I am so beyond grateful for your authenticity. Your heart posture and vision of ministry. I really feel if other co-pastors, and First Ladies would allow their real selves to flourish what a freedom they would have. Instead of being churchy as Pastor John says . Keep glowing Pastor Aventer as your oil is flowing. Love you

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