Faith and leadership converged Monday morning at Jacksonville's annual Interfaith Breakfast at the Prime Osborn Convention Center.
Channel 4 News Anchor Mary Baer emceeed the event. In addition to Mayor Alvin Brown, internationally recognized pastor Bishop T.D. Jakes gave the keynote address, inspiring those in attendance with talk of faith, family and friends.
Jakes and Brown focused on the importance of reaching out to young people and launched some initiatives to help do that through mentoring and crime prevention. Brown said a faith-based approach is an ideal way to do it.
"These young people live around the church. They go to church," he said. "The church is where most of the people are, and we have a lot of people who are un-churched. So working with the faith-based community to reach out to our community, united, everyone together is part of the strategy."
Jakes pastors a church in Dallas and his sermons are broadcast across the world. He joined well-known pastors in the Jacksonville area in Monday's event, which they hope will help the community move forward.
"The great message is the power of unity, that we should not isolate ourselves nor polarize ourselves but united together against the challenges that we all have in common," Jakes said.
Bishop Rudolph McKissick Sr., of Bethel Baptist Institutional Church, said he'd been looking forward to hearing Jakes' message.
"He is a man of God and is well-received because he is well-respected, and he is well prepared," McKissick said.
The goal of the breakfast was to bring the faith community together to address the community's challenges and develop the next generation of leaders. McKissick said their unity will send a strong message.
"When you come together and the community sees this togetherness in the religious level it has an impact upon your attitude," McKissick said.
The main topics of the breakfast were mentoring, education, crime prevention and intervention. After the breakfast, community leaders attended two free workshops to discuss those topics, including a panel of national, state and local experts talking about helping ex-offenders from re-offending. McKissick believes the workshops and breakfast will make a lasting impact.
"I just believe that we are going to leave here with a determination sort of like a mind to work toward the goal of family and faith and friends," McKissick said.