Photos courtesy of TDJ Enterprises/The FrontPage Firm
World leaders, dignitaries and celebrities from around the world gathered in the vibrant Arts District near downtown Dallas Friday to attend an historic event honoring global humanitarian and faith-based entertainment mogul Bishop T.D. Jakes' 35 years of spiritual leadership and service. Aptly titled "A Triumphant Journey," the three-hour, black-tie celebration was hosted by director/writer/producer Tyler Perry and CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien at the state-of-the-art AT&T Winspear Opera House. The awe-inspiring evening was a surprise for Bishop Jakes and featured an unexpected appearance by entertainment icon Oprah Winfrey who congratulated him for being a "man of conviction and beacon of light."
Successfully accomplishing the near impossible, wife Serita Jakes and daughter Sarah Henson enlisted the help of family, friends and staff to keep the night's biggest moments under wraps from the notably inquisitive Bishop. Jakes, senior pastor of the 30,000 member Dallas-based church The Potter's House, was celebrated for a career spanning more than three decades. A true man of God, his accomplishments in ministry and entertainment, as well as his dedication to humanity and family, were applauded in front of a packed audience of family, friends, parishioners, dignitaries, celebrities and fans.
A visibly moved Jakes expressed his shock at the crowd of well-wishers, some of whom traveled far and wide to participate in the celebration and took the stage to receive a resounding standing ovation.
"I have been blown away," said Jakes. "I love God and I've always loved people. Your presence here tonight says you love me back. It's hard to overwhelm me, but you've done it this time!"
The night included a kaleidoscope of musical performances ranging from gospel and jazz to R&B, featuring Jordin Sparks, Ledisi, BeBe Winans, Pastor Shirley Caesar, Fred Hammond, Israel Houghton and Karen Clark Sheard. Gospel duo Mary Mary brought the crowd to its feet with their stirring rendition of "Yesterday," and pianist Keiko Matsui flew in from Japan to perform with KEM, Kelly Price and Kirk Whalum. R&B diva Chaka Khan serenaded Bishop Jakes with a medley of her greatest hits.
In addition, film stars Loretta Devine, Mike Epps, Derek Luke, Kimberly Elise, Meagan Good and Charles S. Dutton, as well as Christian leaders Dr. Bernice King, Pastor Paula White, Pastor Bill Hybels and Pastor Sam Rodriguez paid homage to Bishop Jakes for inspiring so many. Other notable guests on hand to celebrate Bishop Jakes' 35th anniversary include Angela Bassett, Courtney B. Vance, Gayle King, Glynn Turman, producer Debra Martin Chase, Sony executive DeVon Franklin, and Emmitt and Pat Smith.
The Dallas Black Dance Theater praised Bishop Jakes' milestone anniversary with a stirring performance, and luminaries such as Dr. Phil McGraw, the Mandela family, philanthropist and former U.S. President Bill Clinton, cast members of the upcoming film "Sparkle," and others delivered moving video presentations.
"My husband has committed his life to empowering others that they might have joy, love and hope in their lives. The event was an opportunity to salute him for the millions of lives he's touched, the hearts he's changed and the lives he's saved through his stirring messages," said Serita Jakes. "It was a blessing to honor him for 35 years of unwavering service."