FORT MILL, S.C., JUNE 1 -- The U.S. Justice Department will proceed "without delay" in coordinating a multiagency inquiry into alleged financial wrongdoing at PTL, a department spokesman said today.

The Justice Department announcement represented increased federal scrutiny of the embattled ministry and came after Associate Attorney General Steve Trott met in Washington today with U.S. attorneys and assorted federal officials with jurisdiction over the case.

The list of those agencies that have cranked up their own inquiries into PTL broadened when a U.S. Postal Service official today confirmed that postal investigators are reviewing charges that former PTL officials may have engaged in mail fraud by raising tens of millions of dollars in tax-exempt, charitable contributions for projects, then spent the money for other purposes.

Since the bulk of PTL's funds came in through the mails, an official of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said his agency would have jurisdiction. "If you raise money through the mails for one thing and spend it for another, that could be mail fraud," he said.

Other agencies that are reviewing allegations of wrongdoing by PTL include the Internal Revenue Service, which has been conducting an audit of PTL for several years; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; U.S. attorneys in South Carolina and North Carolina; and the South Carolina Tax Commission.

Justice Department sources said today that the IRS would serve as the lead agency in the review of PTL, providing its findings to others. One official said that he expected it would be "about a month" before the effort turns into a formal investigation and a grand jury is empaneled.

The department's statement today comes in the wake of mounting calls by PTL officials for a hard federal look into PTL affairs under its founder, defrocked evangelist Jim Bakker.

"We've got documents and a lack of documents that we think somebody should come in and take a look at," said Jerry Nims, PTL's chief executive officer, in an interview here today.

A department official also sought today to dispel concerns that First Amendment considerations might stymie or delay any probe into the tangled finances of the ministry, from which Bakker resigned in March after confessing a sexual dalliance. The official cited the department's prosecution of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon on tax evasion and conspiracy charges as an example of a willingness to pursue allegations of wrongdoing by religious leaders.

"Where there is behavior that falls within the scope of valid laws, we will not excuse that on First Amendment grounds," said Terry Eastland, Justice Department director of public affairs.

Meanwhile, Bakker's successor, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, announced today that followers of the ministry had met the goal of what had been called the "May Emergency."

In mid-May, Falwell said $7 million had to be raised by month's end or the ministry would go out of business. This morning, he said, "I'm happy to tell you that the May emergency was indeed a May miracle." Adding that the May total might, when all is counted, approach $10 million, Falwell added, "God did it, and God is doing it."

Meanwhile, in the counting room on the first floor of the pyramid-shaped executive office here, the news trickled down. Adding machines clacked and summer interns tore into the task of opening the envelopes.

"Last week, I opened one up with $10,000 in it," said Billy McDowell, one of the clerks. "I wasn't used to so many zeros, so I had to go back and double-check. It was very exciting."

"I'm really enjoying my work here for the first time in a long time," said Jim Nichols, 47, director of cash management. Nichols said the average donation was up from "$16-$24 per gift" during Bakker's tenure to "$30-$100" under Falwell. "Part of the miracle," he said, "is that we're raising money without offering any free giveaways."

Bakker raised millions by offering records, tapes, books, dolls and -- for a $1,000 "lifetime partnership" -- a free three-night stay every year for life at the luxury Heritage Grand Hotel.

But Harry Hargrave, the PTL president, wasn't sure what the final tally would be. "It's kind of like counting votes years ago," he said. "You don't know until well after the polls close and the counting is done."

Falwell, speaking from Lynchburg on this morning's PTL television program, also announced that he was withdrawing from day-to-day involvement in the ministry.

"The time has come for me to pull back," he said, adding that people like gospel singer Doug Oldham, Heritage Village Church pastor Sam Johnson and others would remain in the forefront. And he appealed to PTL "prayer partners" to continue to send in their monthly contributions, which have averaged about $20, saying it was time for a "a spiritual and financial healing" of PTL. The initials stand for Praise the Lord and People That Love.

Falwell today also referred again to Bakker's claim that he had been tricked into handing the ministry over to Falwell, a charge Falwell has ridiculed. Falwell said, "I heard Sam Johnson say {in a Sunday sermon}, and I agree with him from my heart, it is not an issue of whose side you're on. The issue is not choosing sides, the issue is let us be sure we're on the Lord's side."

Falwell added, "There will be no holy war, period."

Bakker, meanwhile, in an interview with Time magazine, said he too is calling for a cease-fire in the "holy war." He also said that he has so little cash on hand that he might have to borrow from his daughter Tammy Sue. "I have about $50,000 cash to my name, and my daughter has $50,000 saved from her music work, which she'll probably loan me if I need it," Bakker said.