*The year is 2017, but judging from news headlines it might as well be 1917. Just like 100 years social tensions about national security, educational opportunities, competition for good jobs and safe housing for all Americans polarized people of different communities and cultures.

According to a recent survey (by Burson-Marsteller/Penn Schoen Berland) these same issue – coupled with gender equality, economic and criminal justice reform – are still top concerns. Many of those surveyed said the media is partly to blame for the division. Using these survey results as a blueprint, this year’s MegaFest family conference was designed to address these concerns in the faith community. More than 10,000 people converged on Dallas last weekend to seek answers from spiritual leaders, Hollywood celebrities and other experts about how to get ahead and get along better in their communities.

Typically held every two years in August, this year MegaFest created direct competition for the annual Essence Music Festival held this same weekend in New Orleans. Judging from the quarter-mile long registration line on the first two days of this faith-based conference, Essence better step up its game.

Bishop TD Jakes, created MegaFest as an extension of his ministry that includes the Potter’s House church in Dallas where he is the founding pastor, The Potter’s Touch podcast, his daytime talk show and TDJ Entertainment company where he produces movies, stage plays and other family-friendly events. Let’s not forget about the Grammy, the NAACP Image award, Quill award and the more than forty books he’s penned focused on personal achievement and spiritual growth, most of which have reached #1 on the New York Times best-seller’s list. The four day MegaFest conference offered seminars, faith-based films, concerts and up-close and personal contact with faith-based professionals, as well as, movers and shakers. The conference alone attracts tens of thousands from around the globe and brings an estimated $30 million to the host city.

Jakes’ national popularity took off after he dared to speak on taboo subjects such as drug and sexual abuse in the church. Just as his ministry started nearly forty years ago focused on inner issues that kept people from succeeding and has since evolved, this father of five said his methods for reaching the masses have changed but his message is the same. His upcoming book due out in October says it all: It’s titled “Build Your Vision From the Ground Up: Sour!