Thomas Dexter “T. D.” Jakes, Sr. (born June 9, 1957) is the chief pastor of The Potter’s House, a non-denominational American 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” that draws more than 100,000 people, 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.
In 2005 Jakes accompanied President George W. Bush on his visit to the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. In his book Decision Points, President Bush describes Jakes as “a kind of man who puts faith into action.”
Early life and history
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; the building having been formerly a bank.
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 W. V. 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 1971.
Family and heritage
When he was 24 in 1981, he married Serita Ann Jamison. They have five children together (Jermaine, Jamar, Cora, Sarah, and Thomas Jakes, Jr.) Jakes is 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 Nigeria. According to his family history, it was also suggested that he is descended from them through his grandmother. He is a second cousin once removed of vocalist Will Wheaton and first cousin twice removed of actor James Wheaton.
Jakes’ sermons are broadcast nationally and internationally over television and satellite television. He 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 the 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 counseling to the inner city, volunteers to the elderly, to prostitutes and victims of domestic violence. 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.