Amid planning for the funeral and burial of Rev. Zachery Tims, Jr. questions swirl about his past and whether his legacy has been tarnished by the murky circumstances surrounding his death.
Tims, pastor of New Destiny Christian Center, a megachuch in Apopka, Fla., was found dead on the floor of a room in New York’s Times Square W Hotel. According to the Wall Street Journal, Tims was found with a white powdery substance believed to be, but not confirmed, narcotics. The cause of death has also not been confirmed, but authorities don’t suspect foul play.
Tims, a native of Baltimore, admittedly struggled with drug addiction in his past. As a new convert, Tims apparently joined Living Word Church, now named New Destiny Church, in Baltimore and worked with the youth ministry, according to his testimony given to Charisma magazine. He and his wife, Riva, who he met at Living Word, were eventually sent to Orlando where they founded New Destiny Christian Center. On his church’s website, a statement reads he was “miraculously saved, instantly delivered from drug addiction and called into the ministry.”
Two years ago he divorced his wife, Riva, after admitting to a yearlong affair with a stripper.
Despite Tims’ past, he was still supported by other men of the cloth in central Florida. A prayer service for Tims on Aug. 18 included more than 40 Orlando-area pastors.
“I felt that this was a great opportunity for the churches…to unify,” Bishop Allen Wiggins of the Hope Church told the Orlando Sentinel. “I was very pleased with the time of prayer, with the time of worship and to hear even the encouraging words the pastors gave each other because we lost a comrade ….”
Tims moved to Florida in 1996 where he started a six-member church. At his death, the church says that the membership is over 8,000 people.
Tims is survived by his four children, with whom he shared custody with his ex-wife. After the divorce, his ex-wife founded Majestic Life Ministries in Orlando.