Melvin Jefferson Biography

Tampa Tribune/September 20, 2003


Melvin B. Jefferson

BORN: Feb. 11, 1949, in Fairfield, Texas

EDUCATION: Attended Roosevelt High School in Dallas during the 1963-65 school years. Dropped out in December 1965.

MARITAL STATUS: Says he has known his current wife, Brenda, for 18 to 20 years. According to public records, he married his first wife, Tracy Thomas, in 1968; married Brenda in 1996; divorced his first wife in 1998; and married Brenda again in 1998.

MILITARY: Says he was drafted into the U.S. Army in June 1968 and honorably discharged in 1972. His lawyer says Jefferson left the military because of post- traumatic stress disorder. The Department of Veterans Affairs has declared him "permanently and totally disabled'' from his service.

CAREER: Says he started what has become Deeper Life Christian Church in Tampa in 1979 after being told in spiritual visions to move to Florida. The church began in his living room, moved into a former adult bookstore at 1930 E. Hillsborough Ave., and found its present headquarters at 3300 N. Nebraska Ave. in 1992.

THEOLOGICAL TRAINING: None. Says he was ordained as a minister through the mail and later received an honorary doctorate of divinity from what church literature identifies as Inter-Faith Theological Institute Seminary. Says he was made a bishop by a "congregation of bishops'' he would not name.

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