Pastor John Gray announces departure from Lakewood Church

Celebrity pastor John Gray has announced via Instagram that he is leaving Lakewood Church in Houston and will move to South Carolina as the new senior pastor of Redemption Church.

(WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Hequals2henry)The Lakewood Church in Houston. 2 January 2012.

In his Instagram post, Pastor Gray bade farewell to Houston and thanked Joel and Victoria Osteen of Lakewood Church for the five years that he has been able to see God's hand in their ministry. Despite the big move, he promised that he would still visit the Texas megachurch as many times as he can on Wednesdays, ABC 13 relayed.

"Pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen and our entire Lakewood Church family, we say we love you and are eternally grateful for all we've been able to watch God do over these last five years," said Pastor Gray. "We love you! Houston we STILL have a promise."

Meanwhile, Redemption Church pastor Ron Carpenter announced that Gray would be taking over as pastor in May. Carpenter said he would be stepping down from the South Carolina megachurch to replace retiring pastor Dick Bernal at the Jubilee Christian Center in San Jose, California, Greenville News detailed.

Pastor Gray has preached at the South Carolina church in the past, and he will be delivering sermons there once a month until he officially assumes the position as pastor. As part of the transition, he will also facilitate a New Year's Eve service at Redemption's Greenville campus, plus conduct a leadership conference in February.

Moreover, Redemption's satellite campuses in Florence and Asheville will be shut down at some point in the future, with the Charlotte campus to continue as a separate entity. Under Pastor Gray's leadership, the megachurch's name will also be changed.

Pastor Carpenter said he had been thinking about the transition for two years now, saying he and his family were now ready for a new challenge. He added that he would not have been willing to move to California without having a greater leader to take his place, and said Gray was just the person he was looking for.