COGIC saints worship day and night in founding city for 114th Holy Convocation

Impact of week-long event to last long after saints march home
Published: Nov. 13, 2022 at 7:39 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - For eight full days and nights, the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) saints are worshiping, preaching, and giving back to the City of Memphis.

Thousands have flocked to the Bluff City for the 114th Holy Convocation after officials moved the annual week-long event to St. Louis 11 years ago.

On Tuesday, the convocation kicked off events by unveiling a bronze statue of COGIC’s founder, Bishop Charles Harrison Mason, in honor of his efforts to establish the church at its internationally known headquarters, the Mason Temple in Downtown Memphis.

For this year’s convocation, Pentecostal members from all 50 states and abroad have flocked to Memphis to see the central headquarters, which was completed in 1945.

“It was a historic prophecy he gave,” said COGIC COO Keith Kershaw. “The Lord told [Mason] that there would never be a building that would be large enough to house the membership of the Church of God in Christ, and he built it during the time of the war when steel was not readily available.”

And he was right.

Eventually, the number of delegates far exceeded the temple’s capacity, and the national meeting site was held instead at various locations that could support the growing numbers.

In 2010, the COGIC convocation moved to St. Louis because church members wanted a larger facility where its masses could gather in one place. COGIC also needed more nice, affordable hotel rooms located near the convention center to support the large crowds.

But Downtown Memphis has undergone a major transformation since then; and now, COGIC is back, this time at the newly-remodeled Renasant Convention Center.

COGIC’s fee to rent the event center was $80,000 with a three-year commitment guaranteeing COGIC will be back.

That’s a big deal.

According to Memphis Tourism, the Holy Convocation will have a total estimated economic impact of tens of millions for the city, bringing tens of thousands of attendees into town.

But that’s not the only way the church has contributed to the community.

On Wednesday, COGIC’s Economic Development Board opened its newest 20-unit affordable housing complex in the Downtown area.

“We have plans to put up 100+ additional units, and that’s just the first part of what we’re doing, providing opportunities for the residents of the City of Memphis,” Kershaw said.

COGIC is also converting an old monastery in Frayser into a women’s clinic.

So, while the saints will be worshipping and praising inside the convention center for a few more days, COGIC wants to make sure the convocation has a lasting effect on the community.

“The real purpose is to ensure what we do is not just capsulize inside the building, but it has an impact on the community, of which... this is our headquarters, we want to make sure that we leave our ministry to those here in the Memphis area,” Kershaw said.

The annual convocation wraps up on Tuesday, Nov. 15.

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