Gentleman Jim Bakker
Returns to Heritage USA to Preach
This from the Fort Mill Times: http://www.fortmilltimes.com/local/story/5439...
FORT MILL TOWNSHIP,NC --
A very different - and repetitive - Jim Bakker returned to his former religious empire last weekend to preach about restoration, and he was greeted by thousands of people.
Bakker spoke at MorningStar Ministries' New Year's Conference Friday and Saturday nights at the former Heritage Grand Hotel, which cost Bakker $60 million to build and was the centerpiece of Heritage USA, a religious theme park and headquarters for his multi-million-dollar evangelical television ministry, PTL.
The grounds, which fell into decline following Bakker's downfall in the late 1980s, have been bought by MorningStar Ministries, which is developing a church and Christian school on the site.
His sermon marked the first time Bakker returned to the theme park he helped develop, and exactly 21 years to the month that he dedicated the Grand Hotel.
"I don't understand our God, but he runs us in cycles," Bakker said. "Most of you are so young, you don't even know who I am."
When Bakker ran Heritage USA in the 1980s, he had an annual budget of $170 million and employed 3,000 people. Heritage USA was the third most successful theme park in the United States from 1978 to 1986 behind Disney World and DisneyLand, attracting millions of people to Fort Mill Township each year.
Bakker resigned from his ministry, which included the Sunday morning television staple "The PTL Club" produced in his Fort Mill studio, in March 1987 after an extramarital affair with church secretary Jessica Hahn was disclosed. If that scandal wasn't enough to shake Bakker's empire, a grand jury found evidence that Bakker skimmed millions of dollars in donations from his followers. He was indicted in December 1988 and convicted of tax evasion, racketeering and fraud, and was sentenced to 45 years in prison. The sentence was later commuted and Bakker was released from jail in 1993.
Three years ago, Bakker and his second wife, Lori Graham Bakker, began broadcasting the "Jim Bakker Show" from Branson, Mo.
During his New Year's sermon, Bakker told the audience of about 1,000 how "something went wrong" during his time at Heritage USA.
Bakker spoke about restoration and preached from different parts of the Bible, including Jeremiah 18, Judges 16:20, Luke 10:30 and Luke 22. http://www.fortmilltimes.com/local/story/5439...