Pastor Joel Osteen, leader of one of the nation’s largest megachurches, spent most of the day Monday in Atlanta spreading the word about the upcoming annual “America’s Night of Hope.”
The Sept. 30 event, which is being billed as two-and-half hours of praise, worship and inspiration, will be held at the newly-opened Sun Trust Park. Organizers expect a capacity crowd in the 40,000-plus stadium.
“We try to encourage people that there are good days up ahead and inspire them in their faith, ” said Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston. “...It’s fun for the people that are ‘churched’ but it’s really aimed at people that weren’t raised in the church like me. I’m a preacher’s kid- grown up in all this- but try to gear to maybe people that this is a little bit new to them. Part of it is coming to a baseball arena too, maybe their defenses are down a little bit. ”
He prefers to call it it an inspirational event, rather than a religious event. He recognizes not everyone has had a positive experience with religion. Perhaps they’ve been felt to feel guilty or “pushed down.”
“It’s not, “ he said, “ about converting people to my religion. I’m taking about having a relationship with God.”
The annual event has been held in several cities including New York Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Speakers will include Victoria Osteen and Dodie Osteen, Joel Osteen’s mother, who will talk about her battle with cancer.
Osteen also had lunch with several dozen Georgia pastors and faith leaders including Bishop Dale C. Bronner of Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral and Pastor Torrey Herrin, of The Bridge Community Church in Buford. Elder Bernice King was also in attendance.
“I look at this an opportunity to expand the kingdom of God and build the local church,” said Bronner. “We believe it brings God’s favor in a greater dimension to the city of Atlanta.”
The event also includes a community service component called the “Generation Hope Project.” The project, which starts a few days before the big event, will bring hundreds of volunteers into Atlanta communities to help local organization.