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By Shelby Mack / The Californian
BY ANTONIE BOESSENKOOL Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Kenneth Copeland, a nationally known televangelist and pastor, spoke to a rapt audience Thursday night for the annual fundraiser dinner of In God We Trust, an organization founded by Bakersfield City Councilwoman Jacquie Sullivan.
Sullivan's organization aims to have cities and counties across the United States adopt the motto "In God We Trust" and post that motto in their chambers. Almost 300 cities and counties in six states have voted to adopt that motto, including Bakersfield.
The energetic 75-year-old Copeland got a warm reception from the packed room at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Bakersfield, with many cheering points of his speech and responding to the frequent "amens" sprinkled throughout.
Copeland opened his speech by addressing Sullivan and the aim of her organization.
"Things are changing because of the anointing and the assigning that God has put on you," he said to Sullivan. "I know that there are people that try their best to remove (God) and (God's) influence from this country and its places and its very existence. But I've got news ... (God) will never leave us or deceive us, even to the end of the world.
"The United States of America is the only nation ever established by a people who love God and wanted to worship him," Copeland said. "Don't you ever get the idea that he will forget that."
Copeland is the head of Kenneth Copeland Ministries and is also known for promoting his "prosperity" message, the idea that people can become financially prosperous by having a strong Christian faith and through sound financial practices such as staying out of debt.
Copeland said early in his marriage, he and his wife, Gloria, struggled financially.
"We did not have anything. We were in debt. The car that I had, oh, brother, had 98,000 hard miles on it when I got it ... The air was showing through the tires," Copeland said. "We began to trust the lord ... We learned early on that his word was his bond. ... Eleven months later, we were out of debt and we have not borrowed since."
As for the current state of the economy and the worries people have about it, Copeland said, "We're not in for an American crash. We're in for a God awakening like we have never seen. The reason I'm excited about it is I'm right in the middle of it."
Several attendees said they were excited to see such a well-known pastor talk in Bakersfield, and some drove hours to see Copeland in person. Several elected officials and well-known political figures were in the audience as well, including state Sen. Jean Fuller and Kern County Supervisor Karen Goh.
"We invited him, and his secretary called saying that Kenneth Copeland felt that God wanted him to be here," Sullivan said before the event started. "He's a strong patriot. He loves God and loves our country, so we're very, very thrilled to have him here."
"I have had pastors call saying 'Is Kenneth Copeland really coming to Bakersfield? We have been trying to get him here for years,'" Sullivan said. "So we appreciate that he strongly supports the work that we're doing."