Jakes, T. D.

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T. D. Jakes

Minister, television show host

Bishop Thomas Dexter (T. D.) Jakes Sr. has become a world-renowned minister and broadcaster. He is the founder of the Potter's House mega-church in Dallas, and established T. D. Jakes Ministries to help the homeless, people with AIDS, and prisoners.

Born on June 9, 1957 in South Charleston, West Virginia, Jakes was the last of three children born to Ernest and Odith Jakes. His father ran a janitorial company. His mother taught home economics which was beneficial to Jakes and his siblings because they learned how to cook, sew, and clean up after themselves. Jakes' childhood was nurtured in a strong, close-knit community.

Known as "Bible Boy"

Jakes possessed strong character traits at an early age. His drive for preaching was witnessed during his childhood. He often preached to an imaginary congregation and always carried his Bible to school. Due to his early habits, he was nicknamed "Bible Boy." As he grew up, he also worked as a part-time music director at the Baptist Church.

Throughout his college career, Jakes attended several institutions. In 1972, he was enrolled at Center Business College. In 1976, he became a student at West Virginia State College. However, he earned both his bachelor of art and master's degree from Friends University. He received his doctor of ministry degree in 1995.

Jakes married Serita Ann Jamison in 1980. The couple have five children: Jamar, Jermaine, Cora, Sarah, and Thomas Dexter Jr.

Becomes Full-Time Pastor

Jakes founded Greater Temple of Faith Church in 1979 in Montgomery, West Virginia with only 10 members. In 1982, his father died of kidney disease, and he was terminated from his day job at the Union Carbide plant in Charleston. Then his unemployment ran out. During this year, he struggled to survive as a full-time pastor. He eventually began to work with his brother and preach at revivals. His wife Serita worked as a disc jockey for a local Christian radio station at night to contribute to their income.

In 1983, Jakes began a radio program called Back to the Bible. People had begun to spread the word about his powerful messages. As a result, Jakes became known as an inspiring speaker, and his congregation grew. In 1990, he decided to move his church to his hometown of Charleston. His congregation increased from 100 to 300 with forty percent of his congregants being Caucasian.

During the 1990s, Jakes' congregation continued to grow. In 1993, he developed a weekly television program called Get Ready with T. D. Jakes which aired on both the TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) and BET (Black Entertainment Television) networks. In 1994, Jakes established T. D. Jakes Ministries and added counseling conferences for men and pastors.

The turning point of Jakes' career was in May 1996 when he relocated his family and fifty other families to Dallas, Texas. Jakes founded the Potter's House mega-church which grew from 7,000 worshipers to 14,000 within two years and which continued to grow into the early 2000s. The church, located in the Oak Cliff area in Dallas, has a diverse congregation. In 1998, Jakes launched the 232-acre City of Refuge and new 14,000-seat Potter's House. In 2006, The Church Report magazine listed Jakes as one of the Top 20 Worship Leaders.

Influences Many Different People

Jakes became a highly influential pastor. His kind gesture notes that God does not duplicate people. More importantly, Jakes' goal is to be the best that he can possibly be, and he strives every day to make it happen. Through his ministry, he displays the will of God. His keen spirit can be seen through the lives of others. For instance, he has helped women to overcome the hardships of divorce. He assures them that the road to recovery is through spiritual guidance. Along with divorce, he has become an advocate for women who are victims of molestation, depression and discrimination. Throughout his endless efforts, he has remained humble and grateful.

Jakes strives to be a vessel for the Lord because he knows that the harvest is truly plenteous, and the laborers are few. His extraordinary gifts have been shared throughout the world through television and literature. Although he may be classified as an entertainer, he is a believer in Jesus Christ trying to bring others closer to eternal life. Aside from Potter's House, he runs ministries for the homeless that provide them with regular haircuts, meals and showers. His endeavors are continuous with creating special programs for people with AIDS, drug addicts and prisoners.

Jakes has written more than 16 books, including Woman, Thou Art Loosed!; The Lady, Her Lover, and Her Lord; Ten Commandments of Working in a Hostile Environment; So You Call Yourself a Man?: A Devotional for Ordinary Men with Extraordinary Potential; He-Motions: Even Strong Men Struggle and many others. His gospel album Live at The Potter's House has received nominations for both the Grammy and the Dove Awards. His accomplishments have truly categorized him as a prestigious individual.



Phelps, Shirelle, ed. Contemporary Black Biography: Profiles from the International Black Community. 17 vols. Detroit: Gale, 1998.


"Top 20 Worship Leaders." The Church Report. http://www.thechurchreport.com/content/view/1081/32/ (Accessed 6 June 2006).

                                    Clarence Toomer


Born in South Charleston, West Virginia on June 9
Enrolls at Center Business College
Enrolls at West Virginia State College
Founds Greater Temple of Faith Church in Montgomery, West Virginia
Marries Serita Jamison
Loses day job at Union Carbide plant in Charleston; father dies of kidney disease
Begins radio Program Back to the Bible
Relocates Temple of Falth Church to charleston
Begins television program Get Ready with T. D. Jakes
Establishes T. D. Jakes Ministries
Receives doctor of ministry degree
Moves to Dallas, Texas; founds Potter's House mega-church in Dallas
Launches 232-acre City of Refuge and new 14,000-seat Potter's House
Named on e of the Top 20 Worship Leaders by The Church Report magzine