Hundreds hoping to redeem Hollywood asked God to change the hearts of entertainment leaders and celebrities like Britney Spears during a media prayer breakfast Friday morning.
The crowd of over 700 Christians and media professionals convened starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills for the fourth annual National Media Prayer Breakfast. The event was founded Larry Poland, CEO of Mastermedia International, a ministry focused on leaders in the entertainment and media industries.
Participants heard inspirational music and messages by leading performers and prominent guests in the media, and dedicated 40 minutes of the event praying for those who have the power to influence many from the entertainment capitol of the nation. Entertainers such as Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin, Eric Close from "Without a Trace," Pat Boone, and Gavin McCloud have all participated in past events.
The event's co-sponsor was the Hollywood Prayer Network, a ministry with chapters in 16 U.S. cities and eight countries that sees Hollywood as the 21st century's largest mission field.
"Nothing will change Hollywood except prayer," said Karen Covell, founder and director of Hollywood Prayer Network, in a recent interview on the "Out of the Boat" radio show of Christian Life Broadcasting. "We pray for God to come into their hearts and show who He is to them."
It is only "when the hearts of the people change then the produce can change," she added.
"The non-believers in the industry who come always leave just amazed that we're not hating them, we're not judging them," said Covell. "We're loving them and blessing them and lifting them up and that's a powerful example."
Friday's prayer breakfast only represented what the 5,000 members involved with the group do on a monthly or even daily basis. Hundreds have signed up for the Incognito Prayer Network, a program that assists members interceding on behalf of a celebrity of their choosing or of one assigned to them.
Britney Spears, who is struggling to get custody of her kids and reportedly battling alcohol and drug problems, has recently been at the top of prayer requests, noted to Covell to the Associated Press.
Covell, who has served as a TV producer, told "Out of the Boat" that she wishes for more church leaders to also get involved by talking more about the media with their congregations.
"We need to be culturally relevant as Christians," she said. "We need to understand as Christians our place in the media, how to use it as a tool for evangelism, how to talk with others about what we see – what we agree with, what we don't agree with."
The prayer advocate said that she hopes Christians can support the work in Hollywood through prayer instead of giving up on it by switching the channel or boycotting certain programs.
"Hollywood is not Sodom and Gomorrah. It's Niniveh. It can be redeemed," she said.
This year's prayer breakfast was endorsed by several recognized figures in the media and entertainment industry including Jodi Benson, the voice actress known for her role as Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid; Sam Haskell, III, chairman of the board for Miss America Organization; David Cerullo, president & CEO of The Inspiration Networks; Geriann McIntosh, senior vice president administration of Warner Bros. Television; and Sonya McNair, director public relations for The New Yorker; among others.