Paula White

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Paula Michelle White is a Christian author, speaker, and church leader. She is co-founder and former senior pastor of Without Walls International Church; a large, influential, non-denominational, charismatic church with two locations in Florida. She hosts a television show, Paula White Today, produced by Paula White Ministries seen on multiple networks including Black Entertainment Television, and the Trinity Broadcast Network. She currently is the senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida.
In many of her sermons, empowerment seminars, and books Paula White discusses her childhood traumas and teenage flirtations with self-destruction to teach about God's transforming power. Her style has been described as humorous and candid.[2]
Early life and youth
Paula White was born Paula Michelle Furr April 20, 1966, in Tupelo, Mississippi, to Myra Joanelle and Donald Paul Furr III. Her parents owned a thriving toy and craft store. Paula and her brother, Mark, had all their needs and desires met.[2] Donald and Myra Furr's marriage began to fail when Paula was five years old. Paula's mother left Tupelo and took her to Memphis. Paula's father followed with an ultimatum for Myra to give Paula to him or he would commit suicide. Myra refused. Later that night Donald Furr killed himself by running his car into a tree.[3] Paula's mother became an alcoholic. While her mother worked, White was looked after by caregivers. White has said that she was sexually and physically abused for seven years between the ages of six and thirteen, by different people on different occasions.[1][4][5]
Paula’s mother remarried in 1975 to a military man when Paula was 9 years old . Her family later moved to the Washington D.C. area when her stepfather was stationed at the National Naval Medical Center. Paula White is a graduate of Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, Maryland.[6]
In 1984 while living in Maryland, she was introduced to the gospel and became a Christian. On her television show in July 2005, White recounted the vision she received from God shortly after conversion: "When I was just eighteen years old and barely saved, the Lord gave me a vision that every time I opened my mouth and declared the Word of the Lord, there was a manifestation of his spirit where people were either healed, delivered, or saved. When I shut my mouth, they fell off into utter darkness and God spoke to me and said I called you to preach the gospel."[2]
Paula White later on became a part of the National Church of God in Fort Washington under T.L. Lowery of Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), and a small church in Gaithersburg-Damascus, Maryland area.[6]
Christian Ministry
Without Walls International Church
Without Walls International Church, originally named South Tampa Christian Center, was founded by Paula White and Randy White (pastor) in 1991.
The church struggled financially at first, and it could not afford to pay Randy and Paula White a salary for the first two years. As a result, Randy and Paula lived on government assistance and the kindness of others. Soon the church began to grow quickly through the various outreach programs. From 1991 to 1998, the church changed locations three times until they secured the property located at 2511 North Grady Avenue in Tampa, Florida and changed the name of the church to Without Walls International Church.[2]
While the church was holding services in an outdoor tent in 1999, they reported 5,000 attendees a week and 10,000 ministered to outside of the church with 230 outreach ministries.[7]
Without Walls International Church then purchased the property next to them at 3860 West Columbus Drive expanding their Tampa campus. The property acquired was a Canada Dry warehouse which they remodeled and is now today the main sanctuary for the church.
In 2002, Without Walls International Church began to expand to its second location in Lakeland, Florida. At this time, the church reported 14,000 members and 200 ministries including job training, evangelism among public housing projects and a teen club. On August 3, 2002, Without Walls International Church began to hold Saturday night services at Carpenter's Home Church in Lakeland renting the property.[8][9] Carpenter's Home Church would later on be purchased by Without Walls International Church in 2005 for $8 million renaming the church to Without Walls Central Church.[10]
In 2004, Without Walls International Church reported a congregation of 20,000 as the largest congregation in the area making the church the seventh largest church in the United States.[11]
The Tampa Tribune reported on March 5, 2008 that Without Walls International Church had put its 4,500–seat Tampa church up for sale, along with its 13.3-acre (5 ha) grounds and 94,000-square-foot (8,733 m2) offices and television studio. As of August 2012, the property is still on the market, with the church's offering price reportedly at $30 million USD.[12]
Paula White Ministries
White recorded the first broadcast of Paula White Today in December 2001 and, by 2006, her show appeared on nine television networks, including Trinity Broadcast Network, Daystar, and Black Entertainment Television[2][6][13]
Ebony magazine said of White, "You know you're on to something new and significant when the most popular woman preacher on the Black Entertainment Network is a white woman."[14]
White considers T.D. Jakes her spiritual father. Jakes invited her to speak at his "Woman Thou Art Loosed" conference in 2000. She also participated in the Mega Fest, hosted by Jakes in Atlanta, in 2004 and 2005.[15] She has also met with General Colin Powell, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, and Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.[16] She is the personal life coach of Tyra Banks and appeared on her show, the Tyra Banks Show, in an episode concerning promiscuity on October 4, 2006.[13] White was also a 2009 Trumpet Awards Honoree.[17]
White has ministered to some well-known people including Michael Jackson, Donald Trump, Gary Sheffield, and Darryl Strawberry.[2] Trump, who often brings her to Atlantic City for private Bible studies, appeared on her television show for an exclusive interview.[2] She was pastor to Darryl Strawberry, starting in 2003 following Strawberry’s release from prison for cocaine possession. Charisse Strawberry, Darryl Strawberry’s wife at that time, also worked as an assistant to White, accompanying her on speaking engagements.[6][18][19]
Senate inquiry
On November 6, 2007, United States senatorChuck Grassley of Iowa announced an investigation of White's ministry by the United States Senate Committee on Finance along with five other ministries.[20] Grassley asked the ministries to divulge financial information.[21][22] When CBS News reported the story, White's ministry denied any wrongdoing,[23] and on March 31, 2008, the Senate Finance Committee received a joint financial report from Without Walls International Church and Paula White Ministries.[24] Without Walls International Church was one of four ministries that refused to provide the full information Senator Grassley requested.[25]
On January 6, 2011, Senator Grassley concluded the three year investigation with no penalties and no definitive findings of wrongdoing.[26] The Alliance Defense Fund protested the investigation and the National Religious Broadcasters said the questions Senator Grassley asked were too broad.[26] The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability plans to create a national commission in response to the Grassley report to lead a review on accountability and policy.[26] White interpreted the conclusion of the investigation to mean that Without Walls International Church was cleared.[27]
Pastoral Positions
On July 12, 2009, White became the senior pastor of the church she co-founded, Without Walls International Church, replacing Randy White, her former husband. Randy White stated that he was stepping down as pastor due to health reasons and would still remain connected with the church in a different position.[28][29]
On January 1, 2011, following the resignation of Scott Thomas, White became the senior pastor of Without Walls Central Church in Lakeland, Florida making her the pastor of both church locations.[10]
Officially announced on December 31, 2011, Paula White was appointed by the board of New Destiny Christian Church in Apopka, Florida to succeed Zachery Tims as the new pastor in the wake of his death. White is no longer associated with Without Walls International Church. New Destiny Christian Center had been searching for his replacement since Tims' death in August 2011.[30]Tims’ ex-wife Riva filed a lawsuit but quickly dropped it, citing a hold harmless clause in her 2009 marital settlement agreement.[31]
Upon hearing of the controversy, Paula White addressed New Destiny Christian Center during a service she was leading. “I’m not asking you to like me. I’m not asking you to love me or respect me, because I’ll do the work to earn that. I always ask people to give me one year of your life and I promise you will be changed.”[31]
On June 24, 2012, three years after stepping down as senior pastor of Without Walls International Church, Pastor Randy White returned to the pulpit. He made this statement, "We've gone through trials and tests and storms ... and we can dwell on that if we'd like. But not this preacher!" he told the congregation on Sunday. "Forget the past.." After the announcement, Paula's White name was no longer listed on the staff directory of Without Walls. Randy White, however, is listed as its lead pastor.[32]
Personal life
Marriage
White's first marriage was as a teenager to the father of her son. In 1984, while living in Maryland with her newborn baby, she was introduced to the gospel and became a Christian. Her marriage ended soon after.[1]
According to the book, Holy Mavericks, a vital turning point came in White's life in 1989 when she met Randy White, a third-generation preacher in the Church of God denomination. Randy was recovering from the divorce of his first marriage and was in the early stages of reviving his career as a preacher and evangelist. They met while he was visiting the church where White volunteered as a janitor. They became friends and dated for several months as they labored together in ministry projects. Less than a year after meeting, Randy proposed during a tour to Israel and she accepted. Shortly thereafter they moved from Maryland to Tampa, Florida.[2]
In an article published in The Tampa Tribune on May 20, 2007, when Paula's husband (Randy White) was asked whether he was contemplating a divorce he replied, "No one can predict the future."[33]
On August 23, 2007, White announced to their congregation that she and Randy would divorce. Randy stated from the pulpit of Without Walls International Church: "We have a very difficult announcement to make tonight before Tim Storey preaches. And that is that we are going through a divorce. It is the most difficult decision that I have had to make in my entire life and I come to you tonight to first let you know that I take full responsibility for a failed marriage." According to The Christian Post, White says the divorce was amicable and they remain friends.[5][27] Following the divorce, from 2007 to 2009, White ministered in New York, Texas, and abroad, while making periodic visits to Tampa and Without Walls International Church. In 2009 she became the senior pastor of Without Walls International Church resulting in her taking residence in Tampa, Florida, again.[28] White has been accused of having an affair with controversial evangelist Benny Hinn, after photos of the pair romantically holding hands in Rome were published in a magazine.[34]
Family
White has a son named Bradley. She is a step-mother to the three children Randy had from a previous marriage: Kristen Renee, Angie, and Brandon. White and Randy did not have children together.[1] Kristen Renee died on April 30, 2008, at the age of 30 years old after a difficult battle with brain cancer. Randy White founded the Kristen Renee Foundation in Kristen's memory.[29] White has no official role with the foundation but is an active supporter.

Bibliography

  • White, Paula (1998). He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. Lake Mary: Charisma House. ISBN 978-0-88419-565-8.
  • White, Randy and Paula (2001). See Me, Hear Me, Know Me. Tampa: self published. ISBN 978-0-9712650-0-4.
  • White, Paula (2003). Birthing Your Dreams : God's Plan for Living Victoriously. Nelson Reference. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/978-0-7852-5069-7|978-0-7852-5069-7]].
  • White, Paula (2004). Daily Treasures. Tampa: Paula White Ministries. ISBN 971265062.
  • White, Paula (2005). Simple Suggestions For a Sensational Life!. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. ISBN 1-4041-0293-0.
  • White, Paula (2006). Deal with It!. Walton-on-Thames: Thomas Nelson. ISBN 978-1-59951-008-8.
  • White, Paula (2006). First Fruits:From Promise to Provision. Tampa: Paula White Ministries. ISBN 978-0-9792092-1-5.
  • White, Paula (2007). You're All That!. Nashville: FaithWords. ISBN 978-0-446-58023-6.
  • White, Paula (2007). The Ten Commandments of Health and Wellness. Tampa: Paula White Enterprises. ISBN 978-0-9796058-1-9.
  • White, Paula (2008). Move on, move up. Nashville: FaithWords. ISBN 978-0-446-54133-6.

References

External links