Some 2,000 followers of Florida megachurch founder Zachery Tims packed the New Destiny Christian Center in Orlando last night to mourn their leader's death. Tims's body was found in a room at the W Hotel in Times Square Friday after he failed to check out. Last night his ex-wife (the couple divorced in 2009 after Tims admitted to a year-long affair with a stripper) told his flock that Tims had just enjoyed a week-long Puerto Rican vacation with his daughters before coming to NYC and checking into a suite at the W, where room rates range from $399 to $699 a night.
After security broke the door in, they found Tims lying face up in a walkway between the bedroom and the living room area. There was no sign of a disturbance, and investigators say none of the pastor's jewelry was missing. Police did find a small glassine envelope containing a white powder in the pocket of Tims's shorts; tests are being done to determine what the substance was and the cause of Tims's death. Before founding the successful megachurch, Tims had struggled with drug addiction in his youth; after he was "miraculously saved," he went on to study accounting and theology, and started New Destiny in 1996.
Despite Tims's sudden death, his flock was reassured last night that the New Destiny church would not dissolve. Jamal Bryant, a pastor at Empowerment Temple AME in Baltimore, where Tims grew up, told the faithful followers Monday night, "You are not a personality-driven church. You are a purpose-driven church. Pastor Zack's DNA is now on you. You are infected with excellence."