Osteens to Hold First Non-Baseball Event at New Yankee Stadium

The New York Yankees christened their new stadium Friday with an exhibition game against the Chicago Cubs.

But it won't be until Apr. 25 that the new Yankee stadium gets Christianized – by a pastor who has converted the former home of the Houston Rockets into a 16,000-seat megachurch.

That evening, which falls on a Saturday, Pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen will hold "A Night of Hope" at Yankee Stadium, marking the first non-baseball event in the new stadium in the Bronx, N.Y.

The event is expected to draw tens of thousands from around the tri-state area and feature a message from the Osteens as well as music from award-winning artists Israel Houghton and Cindy Cruse-Ratcliff.

"We are grateful to the New York Yankees organization for the honor of holding the first non-baseball event in the Stadium," says Joel Osteen, "and for this opportunity to reach so many of our friends in New York City and the tri-state area with a timely message of hope and encouragement."

Aside from those attending, the event will reach people across the United States and around the world through the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), which will broadcast the event live.

According to Nielsen Media Research, Joel Osteen is the most watched minister in the United States and reaches 95 percent of all U.S. television households.

Though Lakewood senior pastor Joel Osteen has been praised by many for his uplifting messages and popular bestsellers, the charismatic minister has also received much criticism for his lack of formal theological training and for preaching what critics call the "prosperity gospel," a belief that prosperity and success – particularly financial – is a sign of God's favor.

Osteen, however, insists that his theology is not "dangerous," as some say it is, and that God has used him to turn people's lives around and to give them hope.

Next month, Osteen's church will be celebrating 50 years since it was founded by Osteen's father, John Osteen, a former Southern Baptist pastor who later became charismatic. Osteen succeeded his father in 1999, more than eight months after the elder Osteen died of a heart attack. Before he took the helm, the younger Osteen had only preached once in his life – the week before his father's death.