Profile: Bishop T.D. Jakes

Pastor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, author, songwriter, playwright, conference speaker, broadcaster and movie producer, Bishop T.D. (Thomas Dexter) Jakes has committed more than 35 years of his life to ministry. Bishop Jakes was born June 9, 1957, in South Charleston, W. Va., and from a young age was devoted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In 1979, Bishop Jakes founded and served as pastor of Greater Emmanuel Temple of Faith, a small storefront in Montgomery, W. Va., which originated with only 10 members.

More than a quarter of a century later, Bishop Jakes pastors one of America's largest and fastest-growing churches. The Potter's House is a multiracial, nondenominational church with more than 100 active ministries within the five church campuses. Since relocating from West Virginia to Dallas in 1996, The Potter's House has grown from 50 families to more than 30,000 members.

In the Pulpit:

In 2012, Bishop Jakes was awarded the Black Heritage Award for Excellence in Ministry. In 2011, Bishop Jakes celebrated 35 years in ministry (as of September 2011) and was named to Ebony Magazine's Power 100 List. In 2010, Bishop Jakes was honored by the Claude R. Platte Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen as a Pioneer in Change and Ministry. In 2009, Bishop Jakes led the morning service before President Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration.

In February 2005, Bishop Jakes was again distinguished by TIME when the magazine named him as one of the "25 Most Influential Evangelicals" in the U.S. On Sept. 16, 2005, Bishop Jakes served as the official homilist at the National Cathedral in Washington for the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance service for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. TIME magazine featured Bishop Jakes on its Sept. 17, 2001, cover, naming him "America's Best Preacher."

In the Arena:

Much of Bishop Jakes' national and international acclaim can be attributed to his popular conferences, Woman, Thou Art Loosed!, ManPower and the International Pastors and Leadership Conference. Woman, Thou Art Loosed! began as a simple Sunday school curriculum and grew into a best-selling book, a widely-acclaimed stage play, a GRAMMY®-nominated CD, a national conference that has drawn more than 500,000 women since 1992 and an award-winning feature film in 2004 honored with the NAACP Image Award for best independent or foreign film in 2005. In 2011 at Lakewood Church, the Woman Thou Art Loosed! Conference broke its church record with more than 16,000 women in attendance and thousands more viewing online via internet streaming.

In 1993, Bishop Jakes created a conference for men called ManPower, which helps men of all races and backgrounds address specific needs, hurts and struggles from a biblical perspective. ManPower has had tremendous growth, from 2,500 attendees in its first year to more than 8,000 men in 2011.

Building on the success of these events, Bishop Jakes hosted the first-ever MegaFest in Atlanta in 2004. A unique family event that drew 140,000 people from all over the world, MegaFest combined for the first time ever Woman, Thou Art Loosed and ManPower with high-energy events designed specifically for youth and children.

The following year, at MegaFest 2005, Bishop Jakes introduced the Mega Youth Experience, an empowering, high-voltage event for young people ages 13 to 21, and MegaKidz, developed to provide children ages five to 12 with a fun place to play while also learning important lessons about responsibility, respect and community involvement.

Out of a desire to better equip men and women to become their personal best, Bishop Jakes introduced and hosted the first For Men Only conference in 2006 and the first For Ladies Only conference, co-hosting with his wife Serita, in 2007.

In 2008, Bishop Jakes announced the return of MegaFest, this time hosted in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two-day event, which included concerts, seminars and inspirational speakers, also brought free health and wellness events to the people of South Africa and Swaziland. Doctors and medical teams from both the U.S. and South Africa provided thousands of South Africans with services such as general health screenings, HIV counseling and testing, and dental and ophthalmic care. MegaFest will return to U.S. soil in the near future.

In the Community:

In Fall 2011, The Potter's House MegaCARE ministry served six local women’s shelters in the Dallas/Fort Worth area by cleaning and organizing various personal and common areas within the shelter. The women were provided with free clothing, shoes, purses, jewelry and accessories.

In collaboration with the Red Cross, MegaCARE held a blood drive at each of the three Dallas/Fort Worth campuses to collect 73 pints of blood, which has saved more than 2,888 lives.

In Spring 2011, MegaCARE partnered with Goodwill Industries of Dallas and donated more than 9,700 pounds of clothing and foods for individuals and families in need. MegaCARE also teamed with the Texas Mission of Merchants to host a dental event, which provided free dental services to local shelters and people in need.

In 2009, Bishop Jakes received the first-ever Community Leaders Award from the National Association of Community Health Centers and the United Health Group. In 2006 and 2007, Bishop Jakes and The Potter’s House assisted in the construction of three Habitat for Humanity homes and made a $107,000 donation to relocate Dallas citizens out of their economically and environmentally disadvantaged neighborhoods.

In 2006, Bishop Jakes, his wife Serita and The Potter’s House church formally dedicated Clay Academy, a $14 million, 70,000-square-foot school campus in the heart of Southwest Dallas, to his late mother, Mrs. Odith P. Jakes. Clay Academy is part of a planned "new urbanism" community called Capella Park comprised of single-family homes, senior housing and parks.

Following Hurricane Katrina, Bishop Jakes and The Potter's House partnered with the World Children's Fund to successfully donate $250,000 worth of food, water, ice and first aid supplies. The church also initiated a program to help displaced families by serving as a collection and distribution center for financial contributions, non-perishable materials and in-kind services. In December 2005, Bishop Jakes was asked to serve with the Rev. William H. Gray III as co-chair of the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund's Interfaith Coalition.

In 2004, Bishop Jakes was honored as a recipient of the NAACP President's Award, being referred to as a "Shepherd to the Shattered" by having made great strides in Dallas to help change the lives of the homeless, reduce substance and alcohol abuse, and aid others in life-altering circumstances by way of more than 100 church-based outreach ministries.

Around the Globe:

The Potter's House's global outreach department, which began in 1997, was formally named Terra Cotta International (TCI) in 2003, which is now called MegaCARE. This nonprofit, humanitarian arm of The Potter's House makes mission trips to cities, villages and townships around the globe.

In 2011, MegaCARE distributed toys and meals to children in three orphanages in impoverished areas of Mexico. Also in 2011, a MegaCARE team travelled to the Dominican Republic to women and children in need with free medical care, beauty services and food. In addition, while there they provided more than 300 people received much-needed medical treatment. A MegaCARE team also went to Kenya and Somalia to provide food, water and medicine to HIV/AIDS patients who had been rejected by other hospitals and sent to die in their homes. The orphaned children in these areas were given ample amounts of food and financial donations were given to the orphanages in which they lived. In partnership with the Melchizedek Hospital, home of the Bishop T.D. Jakes wing, individuals and families in need of medical care were provided with free medicine, lab work, x-rays and surgery, as needed. More than 1,000 men, women and children were cared for. To date, MegaCARE has provided food and water to more than 5,000 people who live in these indigent communities.

In 2008, MegaCARE served thousands of people living in impoverished communities in South Africa with much-needed medical care and medicines.

Bishop Jakes traveled to Kenya in January of 2005 to dedicate fresh water wells sponsored by The Potter's House for the benefit of the West Pokot tribal people. In the fall of 2005, Bishop Jakes led more than 300 African Americans on a humanitarian mission trip to Kenya to dedicate additional fresh water wells and provide much-needed medical assistance and supplies.

In the Prisons:

Founded in December 2004 by Bishop Jakes, T.O.R.I. is an intensive 12-month case management program that offers six core services: employment, housing, education, family reunification, health care and spiritual guidance. Since its inception, T.O.R.I. has served more than 9,000 formerly incarcerated individuals returning to Texas.

On the Airwaves:

Bishop Jakes preaches the gospel on his weekly television program The Potter's House, broadcast nationally and internationally. He and his wife Serita also host The Potter's Touch, a weekly 30-minute talk show that focuses on many of the pressing topics of concern for Christians around the world.

In the Arts:

Bishop Jakes was recently honored by the 2012 NAACP Image Awards with three awards for the hit romantic comedy Jumping the Broom, including outstanding actor in a motion picture, outstanding supporting actor in a motion picture, and outstanding directing in a motion picture. Bishop Jakes was also presented with a 2012 Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work- Instructional for his 2011 release of The T.D. Jakes Relationship Bible: Life Lessons on Relationships from the Inspired Word of God.

A prolific author of more than 30 books, Bishop Jakes has 16 best-sellers, including his book, Before You Do (Atria, 2008), which reached No. 3 on The New York Times best-sellers list and remained on the list for eight weeks. His latest book Let It Go (Atria, 2012) hits bookshelves on February 28 and remained on The New York Times best-sellers list for eight weeks.

Bishop Jakes also operates Dexterity Sounds, which has produced more than a dozen projects, and will release its third in the series based upon the music from the 2011 Woman Thou Art Loosed! Conference. The upcoming release of T.D. Jakes Presents 'Woman Thou Art Loosed!' 2011, produced by Grammy® Award-winning producer Myron Butler and Grammy®-nominated producer Jamar Jones, will feature Gospel recording artists Israel Houghton, Anointed, Gaye Arbuckle, John Murray and Joy Hill.

Bishop Jakes and The Potter’s House first recorded "live" from the New Orleans Superdome in 1997, resulting in the album, Woman thou Art Loosed! – Songs of Healing and Restoration. The second recording was in 2002, entitled Run to the Water . . . The River Within, received a 2003 Grammy® nomination.

Produced by Jakes, Jumping the Broom, starring Paula Patton, Laz Alonso, and Angela Bassett, was the No. 1 comedy in its opening weekend in 2011. Bishop Jakes also produced two new movies set for release in 2012. Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the Seventh Day, the second installment of the Woman Thou Art Loosed! franchise, starring Blair Underwood and Sharon Leal, was released on April 13, 2012. Sparkle, a remake of the 1976 movie of the same name, starring Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks, Derek Luke and Mike Epps, and is set to debut on August 17, 2012.

In January 2009, Sony Pictures released Not Easily Broken, Bishop Jakes second novel to be made into a motion picture. In October 2004, Woman, Thou Art Loosed: The Movie, developed in collaboration with Reuben Cannon Productions, became a box office top-10 hit. The movie won a 2005 NAACP Image Award for best independent or foreign film, and was released on DVD in March 2005.

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