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Juanita Bynum is a prosperity preacher who considers herself to be a prophet, or “prophetess,” which she defines not only as someone God reveals future events to, but also “empowered with a special gift to really change the hearts and minds and the direction of people by knowledge.”
Much of the time Bynum uses this 'gift' to try and get people to give her their money.
Born in Chicago to a rug salesman and a school nutritionist, Bynum, who has four siblings, followed her parents, who both preached in their Pentecostal church, into ministry as a teen. After graduating as valedictorian from Saints High, a school run by the Church of God in Christ in Memphis, Tenn., she worked as a beautician. A job as a Pan Am flight attendant brought her to New York almost two decades ago.
In full-time ministry for the past 15 years, Bynum describes herself as a “prophetess,” which she defines not only as someone God reveals future events to, but also “empowered with a special gift to really change the hearts and minds and the direction of people by knowledge.”
Bynum emerged from relative obscurity in the late 1990s when Dallas preacher Bishop T.D. Jakes asked her to address a singles conference. Her sermon, “No More Sheets,” dealt with a slew of failed romances. Using four sheets borrowed from a hotel maid’s cart, she demonstrated how every man she’d slept with who walked away left her in spiritual bondage.
Jackie Alnor, who produces the online church watchdog publication “The Christian Sentinel,” criticizes Bynum for flawed teachings and aggressive fund-raising. “My biggest problem with her is that she’s claiming she is a prophet.”
Bynum’s pleas for money on her show amount to “spiritual extortion,” Alnor says. “She focuses on the people struggling, living hand to mouth, and tells the poor to give to the rich. She’s the opposite of Robin Hood.”
Alnor is also among those who criticize Bynum’s 2002 televised wedding to Bishop Thomas W. Weeks III, pastor of the Global Destiny Church in Washington, D.C, at the Regent Wall Street Hotel in Manhattan.
Media reports said the ceremony featured a wedding party of 80, a gown with a bodice covered in crystals and a 7.76-carat diamond ring — a far cry from their private ceremony a year earlier at Las Vegas City Hall.
Bynum had waited all her life to have a fairy-tale wedding, she says. “It started out with a $500,000 budget, and then it just started growing like the blob,” she says, adding, “I didn’t think it robbery to celebrate my day.”
She says she doesn’t put much stock in what her critics say. “It’s just not important,” she says, adding, “If you talk about me, and you don’t talk to me, then that’s too low for me. I can’t come to that level.”
More than an expositor of the gospel, Bynum is also an industry. According to TBN, viewers around the world tune into her weekly “Weapons of Power” sho w. She’s also an author and a gospel singer, with her sermons, books and CDs for sale on her Web site.
And she heads Juanita Bynum Ministries Inc., based in Waycross, Ga. Tonya Hall, her administrative assistant, declined to disclose either Bynum’s or the ministry’s income. “Her financials are something that we do not release,” Hall says. (Although some religious institutions file financial disclosures, an Internal Revenue Service spokesman says Bynum’s ministry has not.)
- Source: Evangelist with a big stick, NY Newsday, Oct. 23, 2004, Pat Burson, Staff Writer
The “million-dollar” wedding of Dr. Juanita Bynum, well-known evangelist and author of the best-selling Matters of the Heart, to Bishop Thomas W. Weeks III featured a wedding party of 80, all friends and family, 1,000 guests, a 12-piece orchestra, and a 7.76-carat diamond ring. The black-tie wedding cost “more than a million,” the bride said, and included flowers flown in from around the world. “My dress,” she says, “took nine months to make. All of the crystals on the gown were hand-sewn. The headpiece was sterling silver, hand-designed.”
- Source: The Wedding of Juanita Bynum, Ebony, USA, Feb. 2004
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