COGIC Holy Convocation returns to Memphis after 11-year absence

Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 10:26 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The saints are marching back into Downtown Memphis!

The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) is about to hold its annual convocation in the Bluff City for the first time in more than a decade.

The newly remodeled Renasant Convention Center will host COGIC’s 114th Holy Convocation starting next Tuesday.

The COGIC convocation moved to St. Louis in 2010 because church members wanted a larger facility where everyone can gather in one place. COGIC also needed more nice, affordable hotel rooms located near the convention center.

Downtown Memphis has undergone a major transformation since then. And next week will be the first big test of Memphis’ new and improved southern hospitality.

After an 11-year absence, the COGIC Holy Convocation will return to Memphis from Nov. 8 through the 15.

”Well, it’s been a long time coming, and we’re excited to be coming back home,” said Bishop Brandon Porter, COGIC board member and leader of Greater Community Temple Church of God in Christ. “This is considered our Mecca. Memphis is our world headquarters.”

The Holy Convocation will bring tens of thousands of attendees to town with an estimated economic impact of tens of millions of dollars, according to Memphis Tourism.

COGIC’s fee to rent the Renasant Convention Center is $80,000 this year with a three-year commitment to hold the convocation here.

Memphis boasts a long list of new hotels close to the convention center, though the deal for a new 365-room Grand Hyatt just fell through after the city told the developer it wouldn’t provide another $5 million for the project.

”City government cannot be an ATM for developers,” Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said Thursday. “I still hope it’s built, but we’re working on other hotels.”

The mayor’s comment comes on the same day we learned details about the newest hotel plan for Downtown: turning the old Royal Furniture store on Main Street into a 181-room hotel, with two floors of apartments at the top of a 19-story building.

Price tag: $100 million. But, that is in the future, and COGIC needs hotel rooms right now.

Kevin Kane, president and CEO of Memphis Tourism, told Action News 5 in a statement Thursday that the city is ready for its guests:

“With a fully renovated Renasant Convention Center, a new passenger terminal at Memphis International Airport, along with a variety of new hotel properties Downtown and across our city and county, the Memphis tourism and hospitality community is well equipped and proud to welcome the COGIC Holy Convocation back to the city it called home for over 100 years. The 114th Holy Convocation will draw over 25-thousand people to our community over 8 days of events in November, turning what is traditionally a slow season into a prosperous time for our industry, generating an economic impact of $33 million for Memphis and Shelby County.”

Bishop Porter said COGIC guests look forward to fellowship, visiting the National Civil Rights Museum, and tasting good BBQ and Southern cooking.

More than that, he said, the saints get to return to the place where it all started.

”It’s coming back to our Mecca. It’s why the Jews want to go to Jerusalem, and the same reason we want to come to Memphis. This is our fundus, this is our foundation,” said Porter, “Coming home is meaningful. It is a place of belonging.”

COGIC isn’t just coming back; it’s also giving back to Memphis by hosting “Christmas in November” for the 25th year.

The church is giving away food, clothes, and toys along with providing free haircuts and more to 3,000 people this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Greater Community Temple Church of God in Christ at 5151 Winchester Road.

Bishop Porter said the church does this “because blessed people bless people, and COGIC has blessed people in it.”

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