- (Photo: Karen Pansler Lam / Blog Talk Radio)
Without Walls Central, the opulent Lakeland, Fla., property belonging to Paula White, who also leads Without Walls International Church in Tampa, has been "abandoned" by White and left to decay, a visitor to the property alleges.
Prophetic News radio show host Susan Puzio, operating on Blog Talk Radio, made these claims in a Jan. 6 discussion with Karen Pansler Lam, a Lakeland resident who visited the church property.
Without Walls Central has been standing abandoned, ramshackled and without electricity since August, earlier reports have suggested. Latest published reports indicate the property is still owned by White's main campus, Without Walls International Church.
Pansler Lam's account, complete with photos the woman says she easily obtained while walking around the megachurch's vacated property, reveal the real extent of the estate's decay.
Photos posted by the Internet radio show on the website reveal a church building that could be featured in a ghost town – with empty window panes, broken doors and dirty walls showing signs of mold, and the construction exuding signs of neglect.
The sister church of the Tampa, Fla., location ministered until recently by White, has not held a service since at least August, when the electrical supplier disconnected its power due to numerous missing payments amounting to over $50,000, local press reported in December.
The women criticized the church for not caring for its property, which was bought with money from congregants' donations.
"If people are giving you money, and they're entrusting you their money to invest it in church property, they expect you to maintain it. Just like God expects us to maintain anything he gives us," Lam, who called in on the show after visiting the property, said. "We should practice good stewardship of our property."
That in itself, Puzio said, is very un-Christian. The show host suggested it is ironic that the property lays abandoned while White still has the church in Tampa, Fla. Furthermore, White was recently appointed senior pastor at New Destiny Christian Center (NDCC) in Apopka, Fla., the former church of Zachery Tims, who died in August.
The radio host referred to the NDCC congregation as "those poor people" because White became their new pastor. The women spoke about White "abandoning" Without Walls Central, which she co-founded with Randy White at the time when both were still married. The couple divorced in 2007, which drew scrutiny from the Christian community.
The Lakeland building now looks a "wreck" inside, the caller said, to which the host replied: "It's kind of like the spiritual state of Paula White's life right now. A reflection of the whole ministry." She also compared the fate of the church's property to the judgment of God.
The caller suggested that the sad fate of White's church is a proof that the "prosperity gospel," which White preaches, is simply not working. "Prosperity gospel" claims the Bible teaches that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians. This doctrine has been often questioned during the period following the financial crisis of 2008.
Without Walls reportedly bought the Lakeland property – with a capacity for 9,000 congregants – for $8 million in 2005. However, the church did not manage to attract enough followers, and by 2008 the property was put up for sale, according to The Ledger, a local newspaper.
White reportedly fell out of many congregants' grace and faced criticism from church leaders following the news of her scheduled appointment as NDCC's senior pastor in December. Several prominent church leaders have criticized her for allegedly misrepresenting her relationship with Tims, and some NDCC congregants staged a rally protesting her appointment at the time.
According to her biography on Without Walls International Church's website, Pastor White is the "Apostolic Overseer" of both the Tampa campus and NDCC.