More than 20,000 people jammed the GWCC to hear Jakes and a host of well-known faith leaders, corporate honchos and musical guests. Among those scheduled to speak during the conference were Cynt Marshall, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks; Pastor Sarah Jakes Roberts, author of “Woman Evolve: Break Up with Your Fears and Revolutionize Your Life”; and Priscilla Shirer of Going Beyond Ministries
Performers included Sheila E., DJ Spinderella, Micah Stampley and Fantasia Barrino Taylor.
Jakes set the tone Thursday when he and his wife, Serita A. Jakes, took the center stage and was met with a thunderous roar from the packed hall of largely women who stood up and cheered.
The night was a testament to how popular the conference for Black women dealing with challenges and trauma in their lives has become.
He talked about the conferences beginning in 1992 as a Sunday School class in his Charleston, W.Va. storefront church.
Thursday night, though, it was all about moving forward.
“Isn’t it funny how you stumble into destiny?” he said. As it grew and went to other cities, Jakes realized he was on to something.
Years later it would evolve into a stage play, movie and international best-selling book.
He recalled that one year in Atlanta, the event got so big that with people milling outside the venue “the fire marshal threatened to shut us down… It’s been a great run. I’m so happy to celebrate the grand finale with you.”
The night had people dancing in the aisles and praising God. Many walked around with gold and black pom poms and a couple wore tiaras.
Jakes told those gathered that God was calling them to do great things for the Kingdom.
“Whatever you are going after, it is within your reach,” he said.
He encouraged them to keep up with a changing world, changing business models and evolving technology to be successful.
Renee Austin traveled from Stafford, Va. to make her second “Woman, Thou Art Loosed !’ conference.
Since her first conference, Austin said she felt empowered to start a decorating and design business and became an ordained evangelist.
She admitted being “a little sad,” that it was the finale, “but I know there is something greater coming. Bishop Jakes is not going to leave us here.”
She came with her business partner and “sister in Christ” Theadora Whitley, who was making her first WTAL trip. “This is my first and my last,” she said. “But that’s all right. I’m supposed to be at this one.”