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Osteens Get First Rate Welcome At National Arts Club; To Bless New Yankee Stadium

Originally Posted: April 24, 2009

Edward Callaghan

Victoria and Joel Osteen (with Bruce Winston) were honored at a dinner at the National Arts Club building in New York. Photos by John Wegorzewski

New York City - The landmark Samuel Tilden mansion overlooking Gramercy Park, now home to the prestigious National Arts Club, was the setting for an elegant "Welcome to New York" dinner for Pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen hosted by Sharon Bush, Diane Bernhard, O. Aldon James, Margo Langenberg and Jean Shafiroff of Southampton. The evening was a special preview to the Osteen's historic "Night of Hope" to bless the new Yankee Stadium on April 25.

Iris Cantor and Laurence Kaiser.

Called by many, "America's Voice of Hope" Pastor Joel Osteen is a best-selling author and one of the most popular ministers in the world. Joel and his wife Co-Pastor Victoria Osteen lead the Lakewood Church in Houston, TX, which not only draws over 40,000 worshipers each week, but is celebrated for its global humanitarian efforts. During their visit to New York the couple, in cooperation with Feed The Children, will distribute over $2 million dollars worth of food to needy families in the tri-state area.

Each year the Lakewood Church spends millions of dollars bringing food and medicine to millions of impoverished people throughout Africa. Lakewood's medical teams are a familiar and welcome site in Africa's remote villages where they administer much needed medical services such as immunizations, parasite control and life-saving surgical procedures. The welcome dinner benefited the Lakewood Church ministries in Africa and other places abroad.

Dionisio Fontana and Tina Louise.

The Benefit Committee included Van Bernhard, Joyce Brooks, Lauren and Ashley Bush, Iris Cantor, B.J. Carter, Rita Cosby, John Desidero, Jonathan and Somers Farkas, Bob Guccione Jr., R. Couri Hay, John James, Ann Liguori, Ambassador John L. Loeb and Sharon Handler, Peter Max, Georgette Mosbacher, Jay and Sally Plourde, Alexandra Preate, Catherine Saxton, Christine Schott, Donna and Richard Soloway, Martin Shafiroff, Roger Webster, Barbara Winston and Victoria Wyman.

Broadcast journalist and author Cosby was the emcee for the evening which offered guests an intimate, up close and personal visit with the charismatic husband and wife pastors. For some like Co-host Sharon Bush it was a chance to reunite with the leaders of a church that had a profound influence on her life growing up in Texas.

When going through difficult times, she said, "I used to drive over to the not so good side of town to attend the Osteen's tiny church in a seed store. Now that tiny little church has grown to be the largest church in the country." Bush described the Osteens as two of the most compassionate persons she had ever met. Bush said she was "determined to make the Night of Hope at Yankee Stadium a success."

Tomaczek Bednarek playing his guitar.

Emcee Cosby said that Joel Osteen is "giving back" all over the world and decided to "give back" to the New York tri-state area after receiving a call from a friend asking him to bless the recently opened New Yankee Stadium. And like many a good minister he answered the call.

In December 2006, Barbara Walters named him one of the year's "Ten Most Fascinating People". His book," Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day" in 2007, had a first printing of three million copies and topped the New York Times Best Sellers List.

Many in the glittering assemblage likened the Osteens to the affable and approachable Reverend Billy Graham who was for decades a major source of inspiration to people of all faiths.

Peter Max, Lauren Bush, David Lauren and Sharon Bush enjoy the evening in honor of Victoria and Joel Osteen.

In his closing remarks Pastor Joel Osteen noted," I never thought I'd be a minister. Now God has opened another door, I am invited to speak at Yankee Stadium, I never thought I would do that either." Osteen said he believes in building people up - not in tearing them down. Then he completely endeared himself to the often jaded New Yorkers with a special prayer that ended with "We should all pray for the Yankees to start winning as well."

Following the Osteens, Cosby introduced her long-time boyfriend producer Tomaczek Bednarek who pulled out his guitar and performed several inspirational songs including the moving "Caught Up in a Dream."

Later, acclaimed artist Peter Max unveiled his portrait of the Osteens. Admiring his work were publisher Angela Susan Anton, Laurence Kaiser with Iris Cantor, Tina Louise and Dionisio Fontana, Lauren Bush and David Lauren, Jackelyn Viera Iloff, Judy Grubman and Mark Sullivan, Jen Bowden with Bulgarian politician Lucian Orashen and Janice and Stuart Becker.

Margo Langenberg, Sharon Bush, Dianne Bernhard, Jean Shafiroff, Alden James, Co-Chairs of the evening.

With the promise of some good weather soon, conversation quickly turned to summer plans and parties. Jean Shafiroff, vice-chair of this year's 51st Southampton Hospital Summer Celebration was urging people to mark Aug. on their calendar for what is always one of the most anticipated galas of the season. Donna Soloway was delighted that she had chosen not to rent a big house for the season but was following a new trend among the busy set of booking a suite for the season at the Southampton Inn. She'd thrilled not to have to worry about housekeeping while David Lauren was looking forward to spending some quality time at the family's compound and Tina Louise was simply looking forward to walking the beach.

As a very special treat to say thank-you, the Osteens gave all the guests tickets to the Yankee Stadium event and an invitation to join them in their fabulously appointed new sky box at the stadium!


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