April 20, 1966 |
Tupelo, Mississippi, U.S.
Paula Michelle White (born Paula Michelle Furr; April 20, 1966) is a Christian televangelist. She is the Senior Pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida (Orlando metropolitan area), which is a non-denominational, multi-cultural church whose membership ranges in the thousands. She hosts a television show, Paula White Today. She was the co-pastor of Without Walls International Church in Tampa, a church she co-founded with pastor and then-husband Randy White.
She has received awards for her work, including the Rosa Parks Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, Impact Leadership Award in 2011; the Humanitarian Award by the Trumpet Award Foundation in 2009; the Behind the Bench "Mind, Body, Spirit Award" from the NBA Wives Organization in 2007, and the "Trailblazer Award" by Jesse Jackson and Rainbow Coalition in 2006. The book, Holy Mavericks, described her style as humorous and candid.
Early life and youth
She was born Paula Michelle Furr, April 20, 1966, in Tupelo, Mississippi, to Myra Joanelle and Donald Paul Furr III. Her parents owned a toy and craft store. 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; her separation from her husband and his subsequent suicide drove Paula, her brother and mother into poverty. 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 between the ages of six and thirteen, by different people on different occasions.
Paula’s mother remarried, to a military man, when Paula was 9 years old. Her family moved to the Washington D.C. area when her stepfather became stationed at the National Naval Medical Center. Paula White is a graduate of Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, Maryland.
In 1984, whilst living in Maryland, she converted to Christianity. She later claimed to have received a vision from God shortly after her conversion: "When I was just eighteen years old, 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".
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.
Without Walls International Church
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, and changed the name of the church to Without Walls International Church.
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.
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 was the main sanctuary for the church until September 2014.
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. Without Walls International Church also began to hold Saturday night services at Carpenter's Home Church in Lakeland renting the property. 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.
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.
On July 12, 2009, White became the senior pastor of the church she co-founded, Without Walls International Church, replacing her former husband Randy White, who stated that he was stepping down as pastor due to health reasons and would still remain connected with the church in a different position.
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. However, later that year, both senior pastor positions were restored to pastor Randy White. Paula White is no longer associated with Without Walls International Church.
On November 6, 2007, United States senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa announced an investigation of White's ministry by the United States Senate Committee on Finance along with five other ministries. Grassley asked the ministries to divulge financial information. When CBS News reported the story, White's ministry denied any wrongdoing, and on March 31, 2008, the Senate Finance Committee received a joint financial report from Without Walls International Church and Paula White Ministries. Without Walls International Church was one of four ministries that refused to provide the full information Senator Grassley requested.
On January 6, 2011, Senator Grassley concluded the three-year investigation with no penalties and no definitive findings of wrongdoing. The Alliance Defense Fund protested the investigation and the National Religious Broadcasters said the questions Senator Grassley asked were too broad. 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. White interpreted the conclusion of the investigation to mean that Without Walls International Church was cleared.
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
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. She has also met with General Colin Powell, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, and Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. 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. White was also a 2009 Trumpet Awards Honoree. In March 2013 the godson of civil rights heroine Rosa Parks presented Paula White with the 'Rosa Parks Lifetime Achievement Award', a prestigious award previously awarded to Queen Latifah, Dick Gregory, Marla Gibbs, and Johnnie Cochran.
White has ministered to some well-known people including Michael Jackson, Donald Trump, Gary Sheffield, and Darryl Strawberry. Trump, who often brings her to Atlantic City for private Bible studies, has appeared on her television show. She was the personal 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, worked as an assistant to White, accompanying her on speaking engagements.
New Destiny Christian Center
On December 31, 2011, the board of New Destiny Christian Church in Apopka, Florida, announced they had appointed Paula White to succeed Zachery Tims as the new senior pastor. New Destiny Christian Center had been searching for his replacement since Tims' death in August 2011. Tims’ ex-wife Riva filed a lawsuit against the Board of Directors, but quickly dropped it, citing a hold harmless clause in her 2009 marital settlement agreement.
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.”
On January 1, 2012, Paula White officially became the Senior Pastor for New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, Florida.
White's first marriage was as a teenager to the father of her son, Dean Knight. In 1984, while living in Maryland with her newborn baby, she converted to Christianity. Her marriage ended soon after.
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, working 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.
On August 23, 2007, Randy White announced to the Without Walls International Church congregation that he and Paula were divorcing. 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.
White has a son named Bradley. She is a stepmother to the three children Randy had from a previous marriage: Kristen Renee, Angie, and Brandon. White and Randy did not have children together. Kristen died in 2008 from brain cancer. Randy White founded the Kristen Renee Foundation in Kristen's memory. White has no official role with the foundation but is an active supporter.
- 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 9780785250692.
- White, Paula (2004). Daily Treasures (Words of Wisdom for the Power-Filled Life). Tampa: Paula White Ministries. ISBN 0971265062.
- 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.
- Lee, Shayne; Phillip Luke Sinitiere (2009). Holy Mavericks. New York University Press. pp. 107–128. ISBN 978-0-8147-5235-7.
- Steve Hubbard and Lisa Ryan (2007). "Turning Trash into Treasure: The Testimony of Paula White". Christian Broadcasting Network. Retrieved 2007-09-11.
- Sherri Day (2007-07-15). "Questions tarnish rise to top". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2007-09-11.
- "Pastor Paula White". Retrieved 2007-09-11.
- Larry King (2007-11-27). "Interview with Paula White". CNN. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- Hamil R. Harris (2004-12-16). "My Story Is a Story of Restoration". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- John W. Smith (1999-09-24). "A church without a building". Reading Eagle. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- Cary McMullen (2002-07-27). "Without Walls Pastor Discusses Arrangement With Carpenter's Church". The Ledger. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- Cary McMullen (2002-07-17). "Local Church To Share Chapel". The Ledger. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- Cary McMullen (2010-12-10). "Former Without Walls pastor starts foundation in daughter's name". The Ledger. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- Sharon Tubbs (2004-06-17). "Selling God to the masses". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- Michelle Beardon and Baird Helgeson (2008-03-04). "Without Walls wants to sell its sanctuary". The Tampa Tribune. Retrieved 2008-04-22.
- Eric Young (2009-07-12). "Paula White Returns to Lead Ailing Megachurch". The Christian Post. Retrieved 2011-04-08.
- Amy Scherzer (2009-09-25). "Former Without Walls pastor starts foundation in daughter's name". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- Armen Keteyian (2007-11-06). "Televangelists Living Like Kings?". CBS News. Retrieved 2007-09-17.
- Kathy Lohr (2007-12-04). "Senator Probes Megachurches' Finances". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2007-12-10.
- "Read Grassley's Letters" (PDF). National Public Radio. 2007-12-04. Retrieved 2007-12-10.
- "Televangelists Living Like Kings?". CBS News. 2007-11-06. Retrieved 2007-09-17.
- Bill Coats (2008-04-01). "Without Walls sends financial data to Senate". The Tampa Tribune. Retrieved 2008-04-22.
- Rachel Zoll (2011-01-07). "Televangelists escape penalty in Senate inquiry". MSNBC. Retrieved 2011-04-08.
- Lillian Kwon (2011-04-01). "Paula White Breaks Silence on Probes, Divorce, Benny Hinn". The Christian Post. Retrieved 2011-04-08.
- Jackie Alnor (2006-10-21). "Paula White: Unable to Blush". Apostasy Alert. Retrieved 2007-09-11.
- "Renowned Life Coach 'Paula White' Offers Transformational Advice". Christian Communication Network. 2007-02-22. Retrieved 2007-09-11.
- JaQuitta Williams (2006-10-21). "Mega Church Festival Arrives". WSBTV. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- "Paula's Life Story". Paula White Ministries. Retrieved 2008-04-22. External link in
- Trumpet Awards Foundation Website (2006-10-21). "Previous Trumpet Award Honorees". Trumpet Awards Foundation. Retrieved 2011-09-28.
- Berta Delgado (2004-04-07). "Strawberrys find a home with Pastor Paula". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- Bill Varian (2003-12-23). "Pastors Pray with Jackson". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2011-04-15.
- Josh Cascio (2011-12-30). "Church taps Paula White as new leader". WTVT. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
- Mona Austin (2012-01-03). "Riva Tims Can’t Sue; Paula White Now Pastor of New Destiny". EuroWeb. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
- Bearden, Michelle (12 September 2008). "Without Walls Church Is Hoping For A Revival". The Tampa Tribune. Retrieved 5 July 2013.
- Michelle Bearden and Baird Helgeson (2007-05-20). "Of Faith, Fame & Fortune". The Tampa Tribune. Archived from the original on 2007-09-09. Retrieved 2007-09-11.