This year’s Church of God in Christ (COGIC) Holy Convocation already was to be the final annual confab in the city of St. Louis. Now it won’t. Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr. and the General Board have decreed that the 2020 event is a no-go.
An official statement released early Saturday said the 113th Holy Convocation is cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on COGIC, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States, killing lay people and multiple layers of officers, including two members of the General Board.
COGIC, which is headquartered in Memphis, already had decided to return the Holy Convocation to Memphis in 2021.
The convocation traditionally is scheduled for the first week in November. This year it was set for Nov. 2-11. In a media statement, Presiding Bishop Blake said there are too many questions about how to keep attendees safe at such a large gathering.
The safety “of all convention attendees, first and foremost” is the most important concern, said Blake.
Simultaneously released was a brief video message to the church on the official COGIC international website. Blake acknowledges the devastation of the virus, but then puts forth the church’s plan of action:
“A terrible plague has come upon us,” said a solemn Blake in a solemn Blake in the brief video address to the church. “Thousands are dying, and thousands are impacted and sick because they are infected…with our science, our wisdom and our knowledge, we still are at the mercy of forces that are beyond us.”
COGIC congregants are called “Saints” and Blake assured them that God is still in control, and that He is “able to do exceeding, abundantly above all we could ask or think.”
He encourages “spiritual weapons of warfare,” namely, prayer and fasting. The chief prelate called on all the “Saints” to“fast and pray for 12 hours, according to a post on the website. No specific time frame or further instructions were given.
“We will fast and pray seeking the face of our God for this world as a united body of believers,” he said.
It’s only the second time that the church has cancelled its annual convocation. Other smaller meetings and conferences are also cancelled. The first in-person meeting will ensue in July.
COGIC, with six-million-plus members worldwide, is known for its “great gatherings which could lend to some of our spread,” Bishop Brandon B. Porter, who pastors Greater Community Temple COGIC in Memphis, told The New Tri-State Defender in an early May interview. Porter is a member of the General Board.
In addition to the Holy Convocation, several other events have also been cancelled: The International Women’s Convention, The AIM (Auxilaries in Ministry) Convention, Elders Shepherd’s Conference, and the Annual Bishop’s Conference.
As of now, the Bishop Mason Celebration is still on for September 2020. The 2020 April Call Meeting was postponed, and rescheduling will be announced.
Elder Charles Harrison Mason, founded the Church of God in Christ in 1897.