The city of Atlanta, a community that is certainly familiar with staging an event of Olympic proportion, hosted Mega Fest 2004 last month—a four-day, power-packed celebration of hope, renewal, and wholesome family fun that drew more than 130,000 people and some of the world’s most popular entertainers and speakers to Atlanta’s top venues. The event was the largest gathering in Atlanta since the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Bishop T.D. Jakes, founder and senior pastor of the 28,000-member Potter’s House in Dallas, combined his popular "Woman, Thou Art Loosed!" and "ManPower" conferences, along with the all-new "Youth 3D Experience" for children and youth from ages 5 to 19.
Simultaneously filling four of Atlanta’s world-class venues over four days, including the Georgia Dome, Georgia World Congress Center, Philips Arena, and International Plaza, the event featured singers Patti LaBelle and India Arie, a celebrity basketball game with Magic Johnson, and speakers such as financial adviser Suze Orman--the "one woman financial-advice powerhouse," according to USA Today--who offered practical life lessons for Mega Fest families during Life Lessons from Suze Orman Thursday afternoon.
In addition, there was a comedy show featuring comedians including Steve Harvey and Sinbad, a fashion show and, for children, the UniverSoul Circus. The event included family counseling sessions and workshops on business ethics, home buying and health and fitness. A family expo offered everything from voter registration to beauty makeovers to artwork, reported the Chicago Tribune.
"He pulled everything together to make a family vacation event that combined the imagery of a religious revival and the notion of a family reunion," said Nancy Eiesland, professor of sociology of religion at Emory University.
According to Jakes, "Never before has one international Christian conference focused attention on the individual spiritual needs of each family member—mom, dad, and child.”
Jakes’ Woman, Thou Art Loosed conference has drawn more than 500,000 women and broke national indoor attendance records in 1999 by drawing more than 85,000 women to Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. In 2003, ManPower drew some 44,000 men to Atlanta, and has drawn 150,000 men total.