Jim Bakker stepped from his shadow of shame to the spotlight of his former glory.
The deposed head of the PTL ministries returned Sunday to the former Heritage USA Christian complex he had founded to eulogize Henry Harrison, a longtime friend and staunch supporter.
“I’m scared to death right now,” Bakker told the nearly 1,500 people at the memorial service. “I’m just going to open my mouth and hope the words come out.”
Harrison, Bakker’s televangelist sidekick, died Feb. 5 at age 67. Harrison’s wife, Susan, said her husband had requested Bakker’s appearance when they planned their funerals.
Bakker was convicted in 1989 of defrauding thousands of PTL followers. He was released Dec. 1.
But on Sunday, it was almost as if he never had left his pulpit. The crowd gave Bakker two standing ovations as the preacher waved and blew kisses from the stage.
Audience shouts of “We love you, Jim” and “Welcome back” began the 90-minute presentation.