Jim and Tammy Bakker Return to Visit Jim’s Ailing Father
FORT MILL, S.C. (AP) _ Exiled PTL founders Jim and Tammy Bakker have returned to the PTL-owned parsonage where they lived while leading the television ministry, this time to pay a visit to Bakker’s ailing father.
Raleigh Bakker, 81, was to undergo tests today at Mercy South Hospital in nearby Pineville, N.C., to try to determine the cause of rectal bleeding, said hospital spokeswoman Kim Rickwood. The elder Bakker collapsed Sunday morning at his home on the grounds of Heritage USA, PTL’s headquarters.
Bakker was listed in stable condition early today in the hospital’s critical care unit, Ms. Rickwood said.
James Toms, a Bakker attorney, said the fact that the Bakkers are staying in the house should not be seen as an aggressive move toward recapturing control of PTL.
Toms said he understood that the Bakkers probably would stay in the Tega Cay house for several days while Bakker’s father was hospitalized.
The Bakkers resigned from the ministry in March after it was revealed that Jim Bakker paid former church secretary Jessica Hahn $265,000 to remain quiet about a 1980 sexual encounter he had with her. They have been living in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
The Bakkers’ visit came three days after the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the rest of the PTL board, PTL’s top executives and its television hosts resigned in protest of a bankruptcy court ruling.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Rufus Reynolds said the court would consider a reorganization plan filed by PTL creditors, including a group of PTL donors, in addition to the one submitted by the Falwell group. Falwell said the court was inviting the return of the Bakkers.
Bakker said Sunday he wants to return to PTL, but only if invited to come back. He said his involvement in PTL would have to be approved by the bankruptcy court.
″We want people to know that if the partners (the PTL donors) want us back, we’re willing,″ Bakker said. ″If the judge and the creditors want us back, we’re willing.″
″But we didn’t come here to see Heritage USA,″ Mrs. Bakker said. ″We came here to see Daddy.″
On Sunday, PTL pastor Sam Johnson led a congregation of 1,900 to its feet as he promised that the ministry, struggling without its directors to cope with more than $60 million in debt, will rebuild itself and ″rid ourselves of disgrace.″
Johnson told the congregation at Heritage Village Church that although he had resigned from the board, he would remain as pastor.
In another development, Jeffrey Hadden, a sociology professor at the University of Virginia who is working as a consultant to PTL creditors, announced that court-appointed examiner William Robinson will take care of the ministry’s daily business until a permanent trustee is appointed.
Robinson, a Columbia, S.C., lawyer, had been the court-appointed examiner in PTL’s reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.