Tens of thousands of men, women, and children from across America and around the globe are gathering in Atlanta for a four-day celebration of preaching, prayer, praise and worship, and family fun. Bishop T.D. Jakes' first-ever Mega Fest, which began Wednesday and runs through Saturday, is expected to draw more people to the downtown Georgia metropolis than the 2000 Super Bowl, which brought an estimated 100,000, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Jakes, founder and senior pastor of the 28,000-member Potters House in Dallas, combined his popular "Woman, Thou Art Loosed!" and "ManPower" conferences, along with the all-new "Youth 3D Experience" for children and youth from ages 5 to 19.
Jakes Woman, Thou Art Loosed conference has drawn more than 500,000 women and broke national indoor attendance records in 1999 by drawing more than 85,000 women to Atlantas Georgia Dome. In 2003, ManPower drew some 44,000 men to Atlanta, and has drawn 150,000 men total.
Never before has one international Christian conference focused attention on the individual spiritual needs of each family membermom, dad, and child, said Jakes.
"This is big. You'll see it in the hotels. You'll see it in the downtown and midtown restaurants," said Brandy Humphries, spokeswoman for the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, the AP reported.
Simultaneously filling four of Atlantas world-class venues over four days, including the Georgia Dome, Georgia World Congress Center, Philips Arena, and International Plaza, the event features Bishop Noel Jones, Joyce Meyer, Paula White, Juanita Bynum, Creflo Dollar, Bishop Eddie Long, Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin, Magic Johnson, Michael Irvin, and Deion Sanders.
Mainstream entertainers, including comedian Steve Harvey and singers Patti LaBelle and India Arie, are also scheduled to appear at Mega Fest, which has raised some concerns from Christians concerning their secular influence.
Mega Fest sponsors include Delta Air Lines, The Coca-Cola Company, Bank of America, Lincoln Mercury, MetLife Financial, Gospel Today, and Family Digest.