At least 5,000 people attended the funeral Saturday of the Rev. Dr. Zachary Tims, Jr., founding pastor of New Destiny Christian Center near Orlando, Fla.
“The church was packed,” said Herb McMillan who attended the funeral, according to Orlando TV station News13 .
“The entire lower sanctuary was filled. A couple thousand easily,” he said.
Tims was found unresponsive Aug. 12 in a New York City hotel room. An autopsy conducted on the pastor was inconclusive; the death remains under investigation.
According to the church Web site, in 1996, Tims “was sent out by his pastor in Baltimore, Md., to begin a work in Orlando. This move was one of great faith as Dr. Tims and his family left behind a lucrative job, a luxurious home, and a high-ranking position in the ministry that they attended.” The church started with a handful to grow into a 8,000-member church in central Florida and reached millions via television and radio shows.
Since his death, congregants, friends and fellow clergy have expressed their sentiments through videos and social media, sharing their thoughts about a man many described as compassionate and charismatic. Many mourners expressed their condolences on the church’s Facebook page .
On Friday, thousands attended a wake and public viewing at Tims’s church. The Rev. Dr. Jamal-Harrison Bryant, senior pastor of Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple AME Church, tweeted Friday that there was a “4 mile back up” to get to the wake, indicating that “a lot of love” people had for the 42-year-old minister and father of four children.
Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of 30,000-member The Potter’s House in Dallas, preached the eulogy at the funeral at First Baptist Church of Orlando.
In his eulogy, Jakes “compared the preacher to the biblical Jacob, a man with many problems and defects who was renamed Israel,” wrote Jeff Kunerth of the Orlando Sentinel.
“The names represented two different sides of the same person, Jakes said, just as ‘Dr. Tims’ was different from ‘Zach.’”
“I don’t know what happened in that room in New York, but I can only hope that as Zach was dying, Dr. Tims stood up,” Jakes said.
“Dr Zach Tims had a heroic homegoing. We don’t understand the CAUSE of death but we celebrate the EFFECTS of Grace!,” Bryant tweeted Saturday afternoon.
“You have lost a spiritual leader, New Destiny, but we all gained an angel,” said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, the Orlando Sentinel reported.