evangelist and church leader, was born Thomas P. Skinner in New York City, the eldest son of Georgia (Robinson) and Alester Jerry Skinner, the latter a Baptist minister.
Growing up in the crime- and poverty-ridden Harlem of the 1940s and 1950s, Skinner rejected the church of his parents, denouncing Christianity as a “white man's religion.” As a teenager, he became a gang leader. One night, while preparing for a gang fight, Skinner heard an uneducated radio preacher and was converted to evangelical Christianity.
As a result of this experience, Skinner became a street preacher in Harlem. On 2 June 1959, he was ordained in the ministry by the United Missionary Baptist Association of Greater New York and Vicinity.
In 1961 Skinner worked with local church and community leaders to organize the Harlem Evangelistic Association A year later Skinner preached an eight month evangelistic crusade at Harlem s ...