Advertisement

Bakker ministry inherited by daughter and son

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Tammy Sue Chapman tearfully took over the Praise the Lord ministry founded by her father Jim Bakker and she asked a storefront church congregation to pray for her parents, who were divorced last week.

With her 16-year-old brother Jay at her side, Chapman, 22, led her first service Sunday in the rented shopping mall space that now serves as headquarters for the one-time evangelical dynasty, which once supported the PTL Club television show and a religious theme park and headquarters, Heritage USA, in Fort Mill, S.C.

Advertisement

Chapman agreed to take over the ministry because her mother, Tammy Faye, said she could no longer lead the services. Tammy Faye was granted a divorce from Jim Bakker, after 31 years of marriage, on Friday in Orlando, on the grounds she could no longer deal with the separation and being in the public eye.

Bakker is serving an 18-year sentence in a Minnesota prison for fraud and conspiracy convictions involving charges he bilked his congregation out of money donated to the church.

The scandal also involved allegations of an affair with former PTL secretary Jessica Hahn. He is eligible for parole in four years.

Chapman told the crowd of 70 at the New Covenant Church she was nervous and upset.

'Friday was a real hard day,' Chapman said, referring to her parents' divorce. 'And this is a hard day because I'm here by myself.'

Several times throughout the service, Chapman, who strongly resembles her mother, broke into tears as she asked the congregation to pray for her family, particularly her father.

'He's going through the hardest time of his life,' Chapman said. 'He told me -- and I quote -- 'It's worse than losing Heritage USA''.

Chapman said she will travel twice a month from her home in Indian Trail, N.C., to lead services in Orlando.

Her brother Jay will remain in the Orlando area gathering support for the ministry.

Tammy Faye Bakker's assistant, Shirley Fulbright, said Tammy Faye would move away from central Florida but she did not know where.

Latest Headlines