The Church of God in Christ, Inc. (COGIC) returns to the welcoming arms of its mother city this year for its 115th Holy Convocation, and the denomination’s presiding bishop said Memphis will be blessed because the “Saints” will be in town.
The Holy Convocation will begin at the newly renovated Mason Temple, the domination’s headquarters located just south of Downtown.
The facility’s updated broadcast technology will allow COGIC to broadcast its services from Mason Temple.
The Renasant Convention Center and the FedEx Forum will also host meetings during the convocation.
Presiding Bishop J. Drew Sheard noted that the convocation will include “great speakers, the best singing and anointed profound preaching, and that prayers will be answered in a sincere way.”
Bishop Sheard and Memphis-based Bishop Brandon Porter, a Presidium Board member, were a part of the team that negotiated the convocation’s return to Memphis last year.
As a former chairman of COGIC’s Auxiliaries in Ministry (AIM) Convention, Bishop Sheard had experience negotiating terms with cities around conventions.
AIM is COGIC’s annual summer convention, which is geared toward spiritual enrichment, training, education, and fellowship.
He considered Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and his team major partners in helping to return the convocation to Memphis.
“Mayor Jim Strickland was a champion. He worked with us to bring the convocation back to Memphis,” said Bishop Sheard. “He is my friend. I know he is an outgoing mayor, but he and Ken Moody who was on his team worked with us and I appreciate their partnership.
“COGIC looks forward to working with mayor-elect Paul Young (who takes office Jan. 1). I’m excited to work with him. He’s a dear friend as well,” Sheard said.
The Saints began holding their convocation in St. Louis in 2010 after decades of returning to Memphis every November.
The venue change resulted from members wanting a larger venue that could hold more saints in one place. The denomination also was seeking a location that could provide more centrally located affordable hotel rooms near the main convocation facility.
Focusing on the future, keeping the Holy Convocation in Memphis is an option that depends on strengthening relationships with the hotel industry. Bishop Sheard is committed to working on those business owners.
COGIC is known for its signature events during the Holy Convocation. Bishop Porter is the coordinator for Christmas in November and the Health Fair that benefit mid-southerners during the convocation.
“Bishop Porter does an outstanding job of coordinating Christmas in November, and we want to have a major impact on the community,” said Bishop Sheard. “Community outreach is critical to the success of these events.”
Christmas in November is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday (Nov. 4) at Greater Community Temple COGIC, 5151 Winchester Road. Thousands of families will receive free furniture, new clothing, new appliances, toys, food and other items. Free COVID shots will also be available.
Bishops Ron Hill of Compton, CA and Ron Jackson of Oakland, CA are leading the outreach effort.
They are collaborating with local area bishops such as Bishops Jerry Taylor, Bill Wright, David Hall, and Linwood Dillard. Sheard said, “They have been very cooperative, and we want to have an impact on the local community.”
With the convocation on the horizon, Presiding Bishop Sheard shared the story of a young J. Drew Sheard, who saw the then-Presiding Bishop J.O. Patterson getting out of his car at the old Chisca Hotel (which was once owned by COGIC and served as its headquarters).
The young Sheard had to maneuver through Patterson’s security to speak to him. And when Bishop Patterson acknowledged that he knew who young J. Drew Sheard was, it meant the world to the young man, who later became the presiding bishop.
“In my short tenure as presiding bishop, I have met young boys who have told me that they want to be presiding bishop,” Sheard. “Their parents tell me the impact we are having on these kids. You can’t buy that satisfaction.”
Bishop Sheard also wants to leave a legacy that reflects his sincerity about his faith and belief in God.
“I want it to be noted that I was super sincere about God. I want to heighten members’ relationship with God, spirituality.”