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Monday, January 2, 2012

Leadership fight in Southern Florida mega-church community will settle in court proceedings

ROJS News Op/Ed

Photo Credit-Google Images
Former Pastor the Late Zachary
Tims (L), pictured here with surviving
ex-Wife Pastor Riva Tims (R), who has
filed a lawsuit over future leadership
of New Destiny Christian Center out
of Apopka, FL.
Usually, we write about political news in Michigan and Nationwide. But today, we ran upon a story out of the Southern Florida area of interest. So let start from the beginning of this sorted real life story, in modern day Christianity.

The Growth of New Destiny Christian Center and Fall of its Pastor Zachary Tims

On August 12 2011, Pastor Zachery Tims of the New Destiny Christian Center out of Southern Florida was found decreased in a New York City, NY hotel room in Times Square area

Pastor Tims, who previously admitted to being a formed substance abuser before converting to Christianity, reportedly had a "white powdery like" based substance believed to be narcotics found in his pocket. 

Its' suspected, but not confirmed to date, that the Late Pastor Tims died of a drug overdose.

The New Destiny Christian Center was formed in 1996, after Tims relocated from Baltimore, Maryland to Orlando, Florida with five other ministry members. 

Less than 16 years later, New Destiny Christian Center grew into a "mega-style" church, hosting over 8000 members attending services via television broadcasting on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and in the 2006 build, 6500 seat facility in Apopka, Florida.

But, life wasn't all well in the fast rise of former Pastor Tims ministry or the church. In 2009, Pastor Tims stepped down from being Senior Pastor of New Destiny, for three months then returned back to the pulpit, after admitting to a year long affair with a Paris, Italy (there's another Paris connection...keep reading and find out) stripper.

Shortly there after, his wife and fellow Co-Pastor at New Destiny Riva Tims filed for divorce and step-down from a church leadership role, to open up another ministry in 2010 near her former religious home base.

Pastor Riva Tims Divorce Settlement Agreement Leaves Questions on Inheritance Claim Rights to New Destiny Christian Center 

In the divorce settlement, Pastor Riva Tims forfeited continuing ministry operations at New Destiny, along with decision rights with the church future directions. Decisions made during divorce proceedings are understandable, considering actions that caused a breakdown in the Tims's marriage.

Along with former Pastor Zachary Tims death, at the young age of 42 unexpectedly, direction of New Destiny Christian Center would take roads full of twists and turns. 

Having four children by Pastor Tims, his former wife Riva strongly feels she should take the reigns for one of South Florida's largest church congregations. While married, Pastor Tims and his wife worked to build New Destiny facility space and membership in the church into the "mega-church" that now stands.

New Destiny's Board of Directors Uses "corporation-style" Technique Management to Hand Reigns Over to Televangelist Pastor Paula White

But, New Destiny's Board of Directors had other plans for the church future. They included hiring popular Pastor and Televangelist Paula White of the now nearly defunct Without Walls International Church of Tampa, Florida, to serve as New Destiny's spiritual leader.

"Without Walls International" Pastor's Paula and Randy White along with several televangelists were officially cleared in January 2011, after a three-year Senate investigation into whether they violated IRS rules that bar excessive compensation for leaders of religious nonprofits. The White's officially divorced four years before, in 2007.

Tele-Evangelist & Pastor Paula
White left her "Without Walls"
Church with over $26 Million
dollars in debt, to take over
ministry at "New Destiny
Christian Center" 
In the wake of the IRS investigation, Pastor Paula and Randy saddled their membership of Without Walls International with a record $26 Million dollars of debt, revealed in a 2006 audit of the church. 

In 2009, Randy White stepped down from regular leadership duties and recently in 2011, had bit of scandal of his own making. "Without Walls International" after Pastor Randy White's resignation, picked Paula White to assume the church's Senior Pastor role.

A December 26th article in Lakeland, Florida 'The Ledger' describes the conditions congregation of Without Walls face in the wake of Paula White's move to assume leadership of New Destiny Center Center.
"Without Walls Central, the 9000-seat sanctuary in North Lakeland formerly known as Carpenter's Home Church, has not held services since at least August, when Lakeland Electric disconnected electrical service because of missed payments by its owner, Tampa-based Without Walls International Church. 
Rev. Randy White, a co-founder of Without Walls International and the ex-husband of its senior pastor, Paula White, told The Ledger in November that the Lakeland property was on the verge of either being sold or going into foreclosure and that an announcement on its future would come soon. White has not responded to several subsequent phone messages. 
Lakeland Electric discontinued electrical service to the property in August, city spokesman Kevin Cook said. He said Without Walls owed more than $50,000 in unpaid bills at the time. Lakeland Electric applied the church's deposit of $51,180, he said, leaving the owners with a balance of $2,953.79. 
Lakeland Fire Marshal Frank Bass posted notices at the property in late September reading, "This structure is unsafe for human occupancy and ordered vacated. This structure must remain vacant and unoccupied until all violations are corrected." 
Cook said Without Walls owes $84.53 on the building's fire pump account, but the city has not disconnected it because an ordinance requires the sprinkler system to be in working condition in case of a fire. 
Without Walls International bought the property for $8 million in 2005, renaming it Without Walls Central. The church has struggled to attract a large congregation, and in 2008, Without Walls International announced that both the Lakeland and Tampa sanctuaries were up for sale. 
Later that year, the mortgage holder, California-based Evangelical Christian Credit Union, reportedly began foreclosure proceedings on both properties, claiming the church defaulted on a $1 million line of credit."
Photo Credit-Lipstick
TV Evangelist Benny Hinn & Without Walls
International Pastor Paula White caught "holding
hands" in Paris, Italy on July 15, 2010.
Before Pastor Paula White left her church to take part in a "corporation-style" takeover or merger -if one would like to call it that- of New Destiny Christian Center, the former "Without Walls International" (WWI) leader in August 2011 filed a lawsuit of her own, against former WWI Pastor Jerry Coggins.

Also, accusations circled around media resources that Pastor White engaged in a affair herself, leading to the downfall of her marriage and possibly the "Without Wall International" church with fellow Televangelist Benny Hinn. Paula White has publicly denied the allegations

Hinn's meanwhile admits that a did indeed take place, acknowledging "his inappropriate relationship" with Pastor White, according to a February 2011 article in Orlando, Florida news resource The Ledger. 

Seriously, we're not making this up.
"In the lawsuit filed last week, Without Walls International Church (WWIC) accuses Randy L. Coggins of making "derogatory statements and allegations" about WWIC while serving as executive pastor at Without Walls Central church (WWC). 
He is also accused of using church property and assets for his own personal use, as well as luring away congregants from WWC to his own ministry, Bridge of Hope Church in Lakeland, Fla."
Then there's this 2007 connection of Pastor Paula White to the now disgraced San Antonio, Texas Pastor Rick Hawkins and his defunct Family Praise Center.

Pastor/Ex-Wife Riva Tims Responds by Filing a Lawsuit of Her Own, Claiming Legacy Rights to Lead New Destiny's Christian Center's Future 

Photo Credit-Ablu & Associates
New Destiny Christian Center
Building in Apopka, FL
Former Pastor Zachary Tims ex-wife Riva, has filed a lawsuit over New Destiny's Board of Directors choosing Pastor White to lead the ministry. 

In legal documents filed on December 28th, Riva Tims believes New Density's future spiritually leadership should leave guidance of the church legacy to her and Pastor Tims four surviving children.

Writing on her Facebook Wall December 28th, Pastor Riva Tims described her reasons behind the lawsuit against New Destiny's Board of Directors.
"For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, And for Jerusalem's sake I will not keep quiet, Until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, And her salvation like a torch that is burning. Isaiah 62:1
Photo Credit-Urban Christian 
Surviving ex-Wife of the Late
Pastor Zachary Tims, Pastor Riva Tims
giving a sermon at New Destiny Christian Center
I am prayerful that God's will for the members of New Destiny Christian Center be done. My complaint against NDCC board is and always has been an issue of the alleged negligent and illegal process NDCC’s board used to select a new pastor. 
My concern, as the mother of the children of the late Dr. Zachery Tims Jr., Zoelle, Zachery III, Zahria and Zion Tims is that they will never have an opportunity to receive the inheritance their father left for them. 
As the co pastor to many that were birthed into the Kingdom of God at NDCC my concern is that the legacy and vision of NDCC will be abandoned. A real mother desires for her baby to live! I believe that I have an obligation to let our voice be heard. That obligation is being fulfilled. The voice of the Tims' family and many New Destiny Christian Center members is being heard nationally. 
I signed a Marital Settlement Agreement in 2009. The document is over 30 pages including an addendum. There is one sentence that excludes me from filing a legal complaint against the Board of New Destiny Christian Center. Of course, this was signed while Dr. Zachery Tims, Jr. was alive when there would never be a reason for me to file a complaint against NDCC.  
This can be challenged in a court of law but our desire is not to lose focus of our eminent goal to expose any possible deception of the NDCC board in their selection of the new pastor. 
Those who truly knew Dr. Zach know that he would not back down from any opposition but would run to the battle. I stand in righteous indignation on behalf of him and my children. Though I am unable to present the case in a court of law, II Timothy tells us that God is THE Righteous Judge and I declare He is on our side. I will fully continue to support my New Destiny Christian Center family in every effort to manifest the Spirit of Truth."
Despite pending legal actions, newly named Senior Pastor White took to the pulpit of New Destiny's at their New Years Eve December 31st service, to what was described as a half-filled congregation to say that leading the "mega-church" was "God's Calling" for her.
"I began to seek God's will with counsel from spiritual oversight and he started to confirm that I was to expand our territory," Pastor Paula White told her congregation during New Year's Eve services.
Some members of "Without Walls International" who spoke to Tampa Bay, Florida's Fox 13 Channel, understood why Pastor Paula left despite leaving her church in debt and shambles, while going to lead another "mega-church". 

Questions Remain On Future of New Destiny; Mega-Churches Guidance Over the Religious Faithful 

Actions like those described above causes many members of the public to question if the modern format of "corporation like" Christianity, is almost no different from what we see on a daily basis in the battle between top 1% of wealth business owners and the Occupy Movements' 99%. 

The road to cross for Christian faithful members to travel, which the 99% have learned, is that they've been deceived by using what's in their heart (doing the right thing by believing in God) placing faith in these religious "leaders", instead of themselves.

Still, its' normally unexpected to experience drama of this nature between churches and their perspective leadership.

Either way what we would describe as a sad turn of events, in light of other scandals within the faith based community, will test standards on how much the membership should place their trust and monetary tithing's on behalf of any religious man or woman leader.

ROJS News will continue to follow the story on New Destiny's leadership under Pastor Paula White, the on-going legal proceedings of Pastor Riva Tims lawsuit and provide updates as warranted.

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