Megachurch pastor T.D. Jakes is bringing his MegaFest inspirational event -- which features everything from a film festival to a conversation with Oprah -- home to Dallas for the first time this week.
More than 50,000 people from around the world are expected to attend the three-day event, which kicks off Thursday. Bishop Jakes said the event is designed to help bring families together by helping create lifelong memories.
"It's going to be a fun event. We have empowerment sessions and we have spiritual sessions, but it's also just a lot of plain old fun and family time," said Jakes, whose nondenominational church The Potter's House has more than 30,000 members.
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The event combines Jakes' conferences for men, women and children. Speakers will include Houston megachurch pastor Joel Osteen and his wife, Victoria.
MegaFest was first held in Atlanta in 2004. It was held there again for the next two years before moving to Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2008.
Jakes said new additions to downtown Dallas in recent years -- including a performing arts center featuring an opera house, a science museum, a park created over an interstate and more hotel space -- made it the perfect time to bring the festival home.
"It is a celebration of a lot of effort and a lot of hard work to be able to evolve to this point and to be able to invite the city of Dallas to come out and enjoy it and to invite people from another country to come and enjoy Dallas," he said.
"There was a great deal of infrastructure that had to be done in the city to accommodate meetings of this magnitude in terms of hotel rooms, in terms of facilities to house the various events that we have, and in terms of transportation," Jakes said.
On Thursday, Oprah Winfrey will be joined by Jakes as she films a new episode of her television series "Oprah's Lifeclass." Jakes said their discussion will include the issue of children who are growing up without fathers in their lives.
The "Just Churchin" comedy show on Friday will be hosted by Cedric the Entertainer and Niecy Nash. The "Women of Purpose" concert on Saturday will feature women who advocate for children with autism. The concert will include performances by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Jennifer Hudson and Brandy. Steve Harvey will host the show.
"That's going to be a fantastic night for people to enjoy great music but also to increase awareness about some of the disparities that exist, particularly in the African American community, in the early detection of autism," he said.
MegaFest begins Thursday and runs through Sunday.
"I will be exhilarated, and I think the people in the cities, when they go back home inspired and motivated, and I kick off my shoes and my wife and I kind of reflect on it, I think it's going to be a very heartwarming feeling," Jakes said.
For more information, visit www.mega-fest.com.