FORT MILL, S.C., OCT. 12 -- Control of PTL changed hands again today as Columbia lawyer William Robinson became the third person in seven months to head the embattled ministry.
Robinson, who has served since July as adviser to U.S. Judge Rufus Reynolds in PTL's bankruptcy case, will be in charge only temporarily. A permanent trustee is expected to be appointed by Oct. 27.
Last week, when the entire PTL board and chief executives resigned, the Rev. Jerry Falwell charged that Reynolds and Robinson were maneuvering to turn the ministry over to "lunatic fringe" followers of defrocked PTL leader Jim Bakker. Falwell claimed that Bakker would return within six months. But Robinson said today that "there are no provisions for the return of Bakker."
Reynolds appointed Robinson "trustee" of PTL, giving him authority to oversee PTL's business and religious activities. Robinson, in turn, asked Sam Johnson, pastor of PTL's Heritage Village Church, to direct the television ministry for the "immediate future."
Meanwhile, the Bring Bakkers Back group began calling and sending out pledge cards today to some of the 500,000 "partners," asking them how much they would contribute if Bakker again headed the ministry.
"We are taking pledges left and right, thousands of dollars this morning," group President Vicki Meadows said. Bakker, she contended, "is the only man who can raise the money we need; in 30 or 60 days, we can pay PTL totally out of debt."