Charismatic preacher and self-described spiritual physician, Bishop T. D. Jakes is senior pastor of the 30,000-member, nondenominational Potter’s House church in Dallas, Texas. Jakes’s message about the healing power of God’s word reaches national and international audiences through television programs, conferences, audio and videotapes, and books.
Thomas Dexter Jakes was born June 9, 1957, in South Charleston. As a boy, he preached to imaginary congregations and carried a Bible to school, which earned him the nickname ‘‘Bible Boy.’’ He attended West Virginia State College (now university), later completing his undergraduate and master’s degrees and a doctorate of ministry through correspondence courses.
In 1980, he started his first church, Greater Emmanuel Temple of Faith, with 10 members in a storefront in Montgomery. Two years later, the Union Carbide plant where Jakes worked closed and he turned to full-time ministry. As word spread about Jakes’s uplifting sermons, the congregation grew and moved, first to a refurbished theater in Smithers, Fayette County, and then to South Charleston. By 1993, the church’s membership had increased so rapidly that Jakes moved to a larger building in nearby Cross Lanes. In 1996, the congregation numbered close to 1,000. That year, Jakes relocated his ministry to Dallas, where he founded the Potter’s House, located on 28 acres. Church services include ministries to homeless people, prisoners, prostitutes, and people with AIDS, as well as treatment for drug and alcohol abusers, and adult education. Jakes continues to have close ties with West Virginia, returning in 2009 to the Charleston Civic Center for a three-day conference called “The Birthing Place.”
T. D. Jakes Ministries, the non-profit company that sells Jakes’s videos and audiotapes, grossed $19 million in 2000. Jakes has written 22 books, including Woman, Thou Art Loosed!, which has sold more than one million copies, and Maximize the Moment, a New York Times business bestseller.
Caldwell, Deborah Kovach. Bishop Jakes Believes He Can Help Heal Hurts. Dallas Morning News, 7/10/1997.
Copeland, Libby. With Gifts from God. Washington Post, 3/25/2001.
Jackson, Martha. Jakes Hiked Long Road to Success. Charleston Daily Mail, 11/18/1995.