Accusations have been swirling since last week that Paula White, pastor of Without Walls International Church in Tampa, Fla., was not simply assisting Zachery Tims' megachurch in its search for a new senior pastor, but might actually be positioning herself to take charge at New Destiny Christian Center as its leader.
When The Christian Post spoke with New Destiny Christian Center (NDCC) earlier this month about who would be installed as the new senior pastor in place of Tims, a top church official revealed that the announcement would be made on New Year's Eve.
Minister Samuel Anderson, executive administrator at NDCC, said during a Dec. 5 discussion with The Christian Post that the new pastor – whoever he or she is – would begin his or her leadership duties at the Apopka, Fla., megachurch beginning Jan. 1.
Anderson said then that the board of bishops was still in the process of choosing Tims' successor.
Tims was found dead Aug. 12 in a New York City hotel room. The cause of his death has not been made public, as the late pastor's mother, Madeline Tims, has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to keep the City of New York from divulging that information.
When Anderson was asked on Friday, Dec. 16, if church administrators had reached a decision regarding Tims' successor, CP was told that the board of bishops overseeing the selection was "still in the process" of making a final choice.
CP was recently informed by a concerned party claiming to have "friends at New Destiny Christian Center" that White was allegedly "strong arming her way as the new installed pastor there."
CP was also directed to a Twitter comment from Kevin Bond, an award-winning gospel music producer, who tweeted Thursday, Dec. 15: "Congratulations to Pastor Paula White, New Destiny's New Senior Pastor." Bond added the hashtag "#RipDrZach."
Those who noticed Bond's congratulatory tweet to the Without Walls International Church leader expressed confusion, surprise and dismay with NDCC's alleged pick as its new senior pastor.
When CP reached out to NDCC on Friday, Dec. 16 for a comment on Bond's surprising claim, Anderson said, after some hesitation, "I cannot comment on that."
It was revealed months ago, when NDCC began forming its selection committee and stipulations for potential candidates for a senior pastor, that White was providing church officials with advice and spiritual guidance.
In addition to Bond's tweet, another observer took to Twitter, claiming to have first-hand knowledge of White's installation at New Destiny. Carolyn Brissett, whose connection to NDCC is unknown, tweeted Dec. 17: "For those of u who believe that it is a rumor that Paula White is the 'New Pastor' of New Destiny, this is actually TRUE!"
Brissett claimed in another tweet that her heart was "full" and that she had been "[holding] this thing in since Wednesday." She added, "I love Dr. Zach, [and] to see her do this to his flock."
Even more startling, are comments from Bishop Ira V. Hilliard, a well-known and influential Texas minister who leads New Light Christian Center Church in Houston, who has also resigned from the board of bishops charged with aiding NDCC in its transitional process.
Hilliard released a video of a sermon he preached at NDCC during a Dec. 4 visit to Tims' church. In his introduction to the video, which appears to have been made available on New Light's website on Thursday, Dec. 15, Bishop Hilliard states:
"Recently, I had an opportunity to minister at the New Destiny Christian Center where the late Zachery Tims gave oversight. As many of you know, the church has been in search for a new pastor to shepherd this congregation. I was asked to be a part of a bishop's council that would give wisdom and guidance and counsel to the board during their selection process. ... Now after being involved for some time in the process, I have decided to resign my position on this bishop's council. My commitment to integrity will not allow me to support something that I believe is deception and that compromises previously agreed upon procedures and protocol."
Hilliard, whose Dec. 4 sermon at NDCC focused on how the Bible addresses issues of succession, further stated in the video introduction that "kingdom vision must be followed with integrity for the blessing of God to rest upon it." He added, "Leadership succession in the Scriptures were God-ordained, God-appointed and not the product of manipulation."
In his sermon, the New Light bishop said what New Destiny needed now more than ever were partners, contrasting such people with those whom he categorized as "parasites, players, predators, and participators."
"We know how sensitive this time is. We know how the weak [can] become prey to the predators, we know how this season can be. But you've done well," Hilliard told the New Destiny congregation.
Hilliard further commented Monday morning, saying to his Twitter followers: "Who stands by and watches a theft take place and does not sound the alarm? Only the irresponsible and the uncaring....NDCC members we care."
In addition to Hilliard, other leaders associated with New Destiny have been speaking out, claiming uniformly that White has been lying to the NDCC congregation.
On Monday, Joy105.com published statements written by pastors Rico Sharp and Douglas Chukwuemeka. Pastor Sharp has spoken at NDCC since Tims death. Dr. Chukwuemeka claims to have led Tims to the Lord in 1991, after befriending the Florida pastor one year prior.
Pastor Sharp, who leads Spirit of Truth Worship Ministries in Lake Mary, Fla., published his lenghty letter on Facebook Saturday, writing:
"It is true and of no doubt that Paula White is the new pastor of New Destiny Christian Center. This is not speculation but true. I know!!!!! Pastor Dana and I will be praying for and standing with all of you as things develop. Dr Zach would have never put Paula in this place, neither did they have any relationship for the past four years. I know this because Dr Zach told me that she cut him off when he fell, so therefore he moved on from that connection. There is a malicious story of deception, manipulation, and greed developing and surfacing about Paula White that will totally dishonor The Holy Spirit, Dr Zachary Tims, and the innocence of the NDCC family."
Sharp added: "There is a lot of corruption that has been going on behind closed doors and it hides behind the disguise of prayer, fasting and the voice of God. I personally know that NDCC you have been lied to, misinformed, and not taken to heart during this whole process."
Dr. Chukwuemeka, pastor of New Destiny Christian Church in Laveen, Ariz., revealed in his statement that he has penned an open letter to White as well as the church board and congregation. Chukwuemeka accuses the Without Walls minister of deceiving NDCC when she claimed on Aug. 21, the day after Tims' burial, to have known the charismatic preacher at least 20 years.