Bishop T.D. Jakes is taking his record-setting MegaFest event overseas to South Africa next year, according to an announcement made by the megachurch pastor Wednesday.
After a yearlong hiatus, MegaFest – the hugely popular family-friendly festival that has drawn hundreds of thousands of people to Atlanta – will return in October 2008, this time as MegaFest International.
"At the previous MegaFest events, we had people attend from all over the world, all ethnicities, all religions; so many different cultures were in the room," said Jakes, senior pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas. "As I looked out, the feel was so much more aligned to an international event than a U.S.-specific event."
MegaFest launched in 2004 at the Georgia World Congress Center as an experience for the entire family, featuring concerts, seminars, and speakers. The inaugural event drew an overall record-breaking attendance of 560,000 and had an economic impact on the city of up to $125 million. The highly successful festival returned to Atlanta the following two years but attendance fell.
A 2007 MegaFest was cancelled along with plans for a 2008 event until Wednesday's public announcement.
"I am so excited about the return of MegaFest and the fact that it will be in South Africa, makes it that much more special," Jakes said in a statement.
Earlier reports revealed possible plans of taking MegaFest to Dallas where his support base is, but Jakes mentioned to The Dallas Morning News that they have not been able to overcome the "logistical issues" of holding the event in that city.
Jakes also clarified that the ministry's decision to not return to the festival's original launch site "does not in any way reflect negatively on Atlanta."
"I believe the true purpose of the ministry is to go beyond your traditional walls and minister to the world," he said in Wednesday's statement. "MegaFest International provides us with that platform."
MegaFest International is scheduled for Oct. 11-12 and is part of an 11-day tour across South Africa.
Jakes is featured this year as one of the top 25 most influential African Americans in Essence magazine, a prominent monthly publication geared toward young African-American women. The Pentecostal preacher leads more than 30,000 members at The Potter's House and recently published his newest book, Reposition Yourself: Living Life without Limits .