Getting to Potter's House for Sunday-morning worship is no mean feat. Lines of cars spiral around the sprawling South Dallas estate, and the uninformed onlooker might think folks are trying to find parking for a football game, not a church service. Somewhere in the middle of the seemingly endless row of cars, one couple holds a tailgate party: ignition off, beach chairs unfolded on the side of the road, plates heaped with fried chicken and potato salad.

Before 1996, many of the churchgoers now tapping their fingers impatiently on their steering wheels would have been in bed sleeping late on a Sunday morning. But then Bishop T. D. Jakes, his wife Serita, and an energetic staff of 50 arrived from West Virginia and set up shop on property that had previously housed televangelist W. V. Grant's Eagle's Nest Family Church. The Jakeses christened their new church Potter's House—after Jeremiah's description of God as a potter who puts broken vessels back together—and the crowds started coming. Today Jakes holds three services every Sunday morning, with over 23,000 faithful filling the sanctuary and the overflow room, clapping and singing and worshiping. Each Sunday, middle-class crowds join men straight from prison and single moms trying to hold a family of five together on a shoestring income. They have come to find the Lord at Potter's House. Last year The New York Times included Jakes in its list of the five preachers likely to succeed Billy Graham. "Bishop Jakes has blessed us," says Freda Lindsay, cofounder of Dallas-based Christ for the Nations. "He is the biggest thing to happen to Christians in Texas in a long time. He might be the biggest thing to happen to Christians in a long time."

Jakes stays busy as an author, musician, ...

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February 7, 2000

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