Wildly successful pastor and author T. D. Jakes has added another credential to his resume: record-breaking conference organizer.
Jakes, 42, founder of the 21,000-member Potter's House Church in Dallas, spent the last weekend of July in Atlanta, presiding over his fourth—and biggest—Woman Thou Art Loosed conference.
The conference was born in West Virginia, where Jakes taught a 40-member Sunday-school class about how women could be healed from childhood pain, reclaim their innocence, and be the strong women God wants them to be. Out of the class came Jakes's book Woman Thou Art Loosed! (Honor Books, 1996), which has sold 1.25 million copies.
The conference has mushroomed since Jakes moved his headquarters to Dallas (CT, Jan. 12, 1998, p. 56). In Tampa, Florida, two years ago 22,000 women attended. Last year in Atlanta, 53,000 participated. The three-day extravaganza held in the Georgia Dome set an attendance record for the arena of 84,459, toppling the old mark set by a Billy Graham crusade (CT, Dec. 12, 1994, p. 63). More than 3,000 people spilled over into an adjacent conference center, making the July 30 meeting one of the largest gatherings ever of Christian women.
The theme of this year's conference was Wailing Women Win. "Practically, you may start out wailing but you are going to end up winning—if you persevere you will survive," Jakes said. "When women pray, things change."
In conjunction with the conference, a Woman Thou Art Loosed play opened in Chicago on July 20. It is now touring the country. In addition, Woman Thou Art Loosed! has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, and German.1