The sanctuary, which holds 2,000 people, was about half-full for the single Sunday service. Aware that people have mixed emotions and that her appointment is shrouded in controversy.
This is what she had to say,
“I’m not asking you to like me. I’m not asking you to love me or respect me, because I’ll do the work to earn that, I always ask people to give me one year of your life and I promise you will be changed. I recognize I have great shoes to fill. The founder of this house was a great man of God,I’m humbled, I’m honored, I’m crying to the Lord with happy tears.”
She pledged to continue the vision of Tims to build a church that helped people in trouble find success in life.
Paula White started Without Walls, her previous church with her husband Randy White in 1991. By 2002, membership had grown to a reported 14,000 members and the Whites bought a second church in Lakeland for $8 million. In 2004, Without Walls was ranked the seventh largest church in the country. The couple divorced in 2007. In recent years the church has struggled. The Tampa church escaped foreclosure in 2009 and the Lakeland facility has been vacant since August.There gas been great speculation that the church will never open again.