With his PTL television network lurching from one crisis to another, PTL president Jim Bakker announced last month that he was “stepping out of management” at the Charlotte, North Carolina-based operation. He handed the reins to a new executive vice-president and general manager, Edward Stoeckel, 54, a long-time projects engineer with the Ralston-Purina Company. Bakker (rhymes with maker) said that Stoeckel will “totally manage the day-to-day operations of the ministry” and will have broad powers to set financial priorities aimed at placing the ailing network on a “sound managerial footing.”

“We have embarked on too many projects—two schools, a satellite network, overseas missionary activities—and we are overextended,” acknowledged Bakker, who will retain his post as president and host of the popular PTL Club television show.

The PTL Club has exerted an undoubted positive impact on the field of Christian communications. Supporters say there is hardly a midsize town in the United States without a viewer who attributes his conversion or spiritual revitalization to the show.

Until the change, Bakker functioned as general manager and exercised virtual one-man rule at PTL, despite a large executive staff whose counsel on some critical decisions ran counter to his. Under an unusual arrangement worked out when he moved to Charlotte five years ago, Bakker became president and chairman of the PTL board of directors (he recently was named to the position for life); he remains chairman of the staff executive committee.

In announcing Stoeckel’s appointment, Bakker pledged not to countermand any of the new executive’s policy decisions. Bakker, an ordained Assemblies of God minister, said the switch would enable him to concentrate on ministry ...

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