The 2012 All-Star Gospel Brunch kicks off its seventh annual gala this weekend in Orlando, Fla., and will feature Paula White, gospel singer Marvin Sapp and several other influential Christians. White is among those to be honored at the NBA All-Star weekend event, along with the late Zachery Tims, whose church the Without Walls minister now leads.
Pastor Riva Tims, Zachery Tims' ex-wife, shared with her Facebok followers Wednesday that her former husband and founder of New Destiny Christian Center will be honored at the 2012 All-Star Gospel Brunch, and that the couple's children will represent him at the event.
"The Late Dr. Zachery Tims, Jr. will be one of the honorees @The All Star Gospel Brunch this Saturday @ 11am. Come show your support as the Tims' children will be standing on behalf of their father," Tims informed followers.
The Feb. 25 event, said to be the first "red carpet" gala of its kind in Christian/gospel history, is produced annually by theHELPPPPagency working in partnership with NBA Entertainment during the basketball league's 61st Annual NBA All-Star Weekend in Orlando.
The All-Star Gospel Brunch, co-hosted this year by actress Sheryl Lee Ralph and comedian Jonathan Slocumb, will pay tribute to four "Slam Dunk Honorees" -- noteworthy pastors from the Orlando and Jacksonville area. As Riva Tims shared with followers, Zachery Tims will also be honored with a special video tribute at the annual event for his life and legacy.
White, said to be Zachery Tims' "spiritual mother," was installed as New Destiny Christian Center's new senior pastor in January, a move that displeased some congregants. White's installation as senior pastor of the church the Timses founded 15 years ago was challenged by Riva Tims, who heads Majestic Life Ministries, also in Orlando. Riva Tims, who initially called White's installation "illegal," eventually dropped a lawsuit she had filed against NDCC after revealing that she had relinquished all rights to file a complaint against NDCC upon her divorce from Zachery Tims.
It was not immediatley clear if Tims and White have made contact since the January dispute. As her children will be in attendance at the 2012 All-Star Gospel Brunch, presumably Riva Tims will be in attendance as well. A message left for Tims at Majestic Life Ministries church Thursday morning was not returned by time of press.
Tomeka Holyfield, Executive Producer of the All-Star Gospel Brunch, told The Christian Post that Tims, who passed away in August of last year, is being honored simply for his love of the game.
"All-Star Gospel Brunch is honoring Zackery Tims SIMPLY for his LOVE of BASKETBALL," Holyfield shared in an emailed statement. "It's something that he and his sons SHARED as a time of bonding. And it's where his kids, to date, find peace in the midst of their sorrow. His four kids will accept the award on his behalf as we celebrate the MERGE of Basketball & Faith!"
Pastor White, who also leads Without Walls International Church in Tampa, is noted as a long-time supporter and friend of All-Star Gospel Brunch, and will also be honored at the event, according to a press release from theHELPPPPagency.
Local pastors to be honored at the event include Jonathan McKnight (Sanctuary of Praise Church Of God by Faith), Willie C. Barnes (Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church), Bishop Rudolph McKissick, Jr. (Bethel Baptist Institutional Church) and Clint Brown (FaithWorld Church).
Featured performers include Grammy Award-winning singer Marvin Sapp, Grammy nominee LeAndria Jonhson, Jonathan Nelson. Also scheduled to make an appearance is former NBA baller Doug Christie and wife Jackie.
This year's brunch is scheduled for Sat., Feb. 25 from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Tickets for the event cost $99 for general admission and $150 for a VIP ticket. The annual brunch, held in a different city every year, benefits The HELPPPPing Hands Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit that aids abused and battered women and under privileged children. Local nonprofit organizations will also benefit from the proceeds.
The event's organizers will also host the Gospel Goes to Hollywood Awards Luncheon Friday, Feb. 24 in Los Angeles, to coincide with the 84th Annual Oscar Academy Awards. The Hollywood gala, hosted by actors Wendy Raquel Robinson and Terry Crews, will feature a special tribute to late pop legend Whitney Houston by gospel artist CeCe Winans, who also sang at Houston's funeral along with her brother, BeBe Winans.
Winans' tribute will be a celebration of Houston's gospel roots, as the late singer got her start singing in the choir led by her mother, Cissy Houston, at New Hope Baptist Church. Gospel singer and pastor Donnie McClurkin will also be at the event. Unlike the All-Star Gospel Brunch, the Hollywood luncheon is "a celebrity-driven invite-only event."