Thomas Dexter "T. D." Jakes Sr. (born June 9, 1957) is an American entrepreneur and chief pastor of The Potter's House, a non-denominational megachurch, with 30,000 members, located in Dallas, Texas.T.D. Jakes church services and evangelistic sermons are broadcast on The Potter's Touch, which airs on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, Black Entertainment Television, the Daystar Television Network, The Word Network and The Miracle Channel in Canada. Other aspects of Jakes' ministry include an annual revival called "MegaFest" (which draws more than 100,000 people during that period of time), an annual women's conference called "Woman Thou Art Loosed", and gospel music recordings.
In the fall of 2009, Jakes planned on launching a secular daily talk show, syndicated through the CBS Television Distribution group; however, economic troubles in the industry may put his new program into jeopardy.
On January 20, 2009, Jakes led the early morning prayer service for President Barack Obama at St. John's Church in Washington, DC, according to NBC News.
On June 9, 1957, Thomas Dexter Jakes was born in South Charleston, West Virginia to Ernest Jakes, Sr., a janitor and entrepreneur, and Odith, an educator. Even as a child he was known in his West Virginian neighborhood as "the bad Bible boy." He was also told he would never be able to preach because of his "bad" lisp. Shortly after his father's death from kidney failure, Jakes decided to go into ministry. In 1979, with very little funds of his own and with only ten initial members, he founded Greater Emmanuel Temple of Faith as a storefront church in Montgomery, West Virginia. Jakes maintained his day job digging ditches in order to support his ministry until the church was able to support him. During its first 10 years, the church grew to over 1,000 members. In 1982, Jakes turned to full-time ministry.
By 1990, his church had moved twice, first from Montgomery to the nearby community of Smithers, and from there to his hometown of South Charleston. In 1993, the church moved yet again within the Charleston area, to Cross Lanes.
In 1995, when he was 38 years old, Jakes started his television ministry. In 1996, Jakes founded The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas, with about 50 families that had relocated with him from his former congregation in Cross Lanes. Jakes purchased the property, which was previously Eagle's Nest Family Church, from WV Grant, after Grant was sentenced to 16 months in prison for tax-related crimes. In its 12 year existence, it has grown to over 30,000 members. Both Jakes and his Potter's House church are unrelated to the Potter's House Christian Fellowship, a Pentecostal denomination founded in Arizona in 1970.
In 1981 he married Serita Ann Jamison. They have five children together (Jermaine, Jamar, Cora, Sarah, and Thomas Jakes Jr.) Jakes's a strong advocate of abstinence and has made appearances on the subject ranging from Good Morning America to Dr. Phil.
On the PBS program African American Lives, Jakes had his DNA analyzed; his Y chromosome showed that he is descended from the Igbo people of what is now Nigeria. According to his family history, it was also suggested that he is descended from them through his paternal grandmother.
He's a second cousin once removed of vocalist Will Wheaton and first cousin twice removed of actor James Wheaton.
Jakes is a charismatic speaker and preacher whose sermons are broadcast nationally and internationally over television and satellite television. Jakes is also a prolific author and has written over 30 books, many of which have been featured on the New York Times best-selling list. Jakes is also a songwriter, a playwright, and performer. He founded a Christian record label (Dexterity Sounds ) as well as a theater and movie production company.
Jakes' church, The Potter's House, is active in ministry and outreach both locally and internationally. The Potter's House sends drugs and alcohol counselling to the inner city, volunteers to the elderly, to prostitutes and victims of domestic abuse. Jakes also has a special interest in the continent of Africa, and The Potter's House launched an initiative that brought water wells, medicine, and ministry to thousands of people in and around Nairobi in Kenya.
Jakes hosted several popular national conferences, including "Woman, Thou Art Loosed," "G Unit: ManPower," and "God's Leading Ladies." Recently, Jakes combined those into a single event called "Megafest." Jakes regularly draws capacity crowds at his conferences and ministry events.
Jakes has received numerous honors, including 13 honorary degrees and doctorates. He has also received Grammy and Dove Award nominations for Gospel album "Live at The Potter's House." PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly named Jakes among America's "Top 10 Religious Leaders." Time magazine featured Jakes on the cover of its September 17, 2001 issue with theprovocative question: "Is This Man the Next Billy Graham?".