(Photo: New Destiny Christian Center via The Christian Post)
Grieving members of the Florida megachurch founded by Zachery Tims have announced plans to bury their late leader.
Administrators at New Destiny Christian Center (NDCC) in Apopka, Fla., announced during an emotional service Monday night that Tims, founder, CEO, and senior pastor of the ministry, would have his homegoing this Saturday.
The funeral has been scheduled to take place on Saturday, August 20 at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Orlando.
Tims' funeral will be preceded by a wake at NDCC on Friday, August 19, in which Tims' body will be lying in state from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
There will also be a limited viewing at First Baptist Church of Orlando, according to NDCC minister Wanda Robinson.
Robinson made the announcement during a Monday night memorial service in which NDCC members and supporters turned out to grieve and remember their leader.
Among those in attendance at the memorial service was Riva Tims, Pastor Tims' ex-wife. The couple divorced in 2009 after speculation that Zachery Tims had been involved in an affair with a stripper. They have four children together.
After the divorce, Riva Tims left NDCC to start her own church, Majestic Life Ministries in Orlando. She returned to NDCC Monday night to lend her support and offer words of encouragement to members of the Florida megachurch.
Tims, holding back tears as she spoke from NDCC's pulpit, told those gathered that those whom her former husband left behind had no choice but to push forward.
“I stand before you tonight in all humility with the power and grace of God and also with the spirit that Zach left behind to press on and not give up," the former first lady of NDCC said.
Tims revealed that she, Pastor Tims, their four children, and Pastor Tims' mother had recently spent time together in Puerto Rico.
“Zachery’s death may have caught us by surprise, but it has not taken God by surprise,” Riva Tims said, explaining that it was God's divine plan to allow the family to spend time together before Pastor Tims' homegoing.
Apostle Dannie Williams, of Citadel of Hope in Leesburg, Fla., also stood at the pulpit Monday night to offer words of support to NDCC and remember Tims. Williams said he had spoken with Tims on Wednesday, just two days before the pastor was discovered dead in a New York City hotel room.
“He thanked me for coming to share and preach and for being his friend," Williams said, referring to the phone conversation he had with Tims that Wednesday night.
Williams continued, “Tonight, I stand here, as difficult as it may be, to encourage not just this church, but to encourage the body of Christ. We’re gonna give a soldier a good homegoing and then we’re going to get back in the fight."
“We have not resigned," Williams told an applauding crowd. "We’re not thinking about quitting… The best is still yet to come. Be encouraged. Be eagles and keep flying.”
Tims, who founded NDCC with Riva Tims in 1996, was found dead in his room at the W Hotel in New York City around 6 p.m. Friday.
The 42-year-old preacher was reportedly found with an envelope of white powder in his pants pocket. Police have yet to verify if the substance is illegal drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, but there was speculation that Tims might have died of a drug overdose.
An autopsy conducted Saturday failed to provide any clues as to what may have killed Tims, and results of toxicology tests were pending.
Tims, who often appeared on TBN’s “Praise the Lord” program, was reportedly in New York for a meeting.
According to his biography on NDCC’s website, Tims had a troubled youth before he was “miraculously saved, instantly delivered from drug addiction, and called into ministry.”
Fans and leaders in the Christian community have been expressing sadness over Tims' death and well-wishes for his family and church.
NDCC has not yet announced who may take over leading the church, whose members number nearly 8,000.
New Destiny Christian Center is located at 505 East McCormick Road in Apopka, Fla. First Baptist Church of Orlando is located at 3000 South John Young Parkway in Orlando, Fla.