By: Crystal Martinez

The International Worship Summit 2016 filled many with the spirit of love as the three-day conference took place in Houston for the first time in history.

Dr. Teresa Hairston founded the Gospel Heritage Foundation 22 years ago in hopes of giving all gospel artists a platform, and this year, its annual worship summit drew in crowds from all over the world.

Some attendees traveled from Sweden and Japan to join Houstonians, not only for down-home Southern love and cooking, but for fellowship and worship at Bishop James W. Dixon’s landmark Community of Faith Church.

Hairston said God led her to Houston.

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“Houston has a lot of gospel roots and artists and is one of the most diverse cities and fastest growing cities. This is a celebration. We are honoring many, including Yolanda Adams, V. Michael McKay and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee,” she said.

Local and national pastors preached sermons to thousands of attendees packed in the sanctuary of the landmark church while trying to bridge the gap between this generation and God.

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“There is a hole that is missing in our communities and in our churches and that void is because there was a delinquency in our parental guidance. There is a bridge that needs to be filled,” Pastor Stephen Hurd said.

Bishop Paul S. Morton Sr.’s message was all about following proper protocol and doing the work that God chose you to do, instead of worrying about others.

Others said it was all about surrendering to purpose.

“You know you are where you are supposed to be,” said Pastor John F. Hannah.  “When you come out, all eyes are on you and for some of you, people are looking at you right now. People that are in the bubble will never step out the bubble.  But it’s not up to you to keep looking back to get validation.  Leave them back there and keep it moving.”

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The prominence of the gospel genre in today’s musical landscape is inescapable.  Gospel has been the foundation for America’s top performers from Elvis Presley, the King of Rock-n-Roll, to Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul.

Well-known artists and leaders, including BET’s Dr. Bobby Jones and Hezekiah Walker joined Houston’s own Yolanda Adams, Kim Burrell, V. Michael McKay and others in service and daily workshops.  Adams, McCay and Jones were honored for their achievements and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee was honored to her service to the community at the Gospel Heritage Awards ceremony.

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