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COGIC moves to give back on the way back

There is great cause for early celebration as Bishop Brandon Porter, Greater Community Temple, and the International Church of God in Christ, prepare for the largest “Christmas in November” event ever sponsored.

After convening in St. Louis for the past 11 years, the Church of God in Christ brings its annual convocation back home, staging the most expansive Christmas in November celebration in the denomination’s history.

Thousands are expected to attend on Friday (Nov. 4) from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

“We are returning home with great joy,” said Porter, a member of COGIC’s General Board since 2012. “The Church of God in Christ wants to give back on the way back. Coming home is an exultant, triumphant return. This is the place of our beginning, and it is fitting that our traditional precursor to the Convocation will be our biggest yet. Already, more than 500 families have registered for the massive giveaway.”

The grounds of Greater Community Temple have been inundated with almost countless boxes and containers of clothing for men, women and children, household goods, furniture, toys and too many other items to name. This forklift driver had a big job unloading trucks in preparation for the big day on Saturday — Christmas in November. (Courtesy photo)

COGIC, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States, held its convocation in Memphis, its mother city, for more than 100 years.

In 2010, however, the denomination began holding its annual gathering in St. Louis. Church leaders cited high hotel rates and a lack of meeting space in Memphis as reasons for the move.

Porter’s first Christmas in November was 25 years ago, in 1997. During the 11 years away, the event was hosted in St. Louis, but Porter never lost his passion for blessing families before every convocation. He knew that whenever the church returned to Memphis, Christmas in November would also return.

“We are so excited about this year,” said Porter. “All the clothing is brand new. There are over 20,000 items of clothing, food, toys, groceries, furniture, appliances, food trucks, a kid’s zone for our children, great gospel music, and so much more for our families. There are truckloads of so many things. Right on the flyer, it says, ‘Come Experience Your Miracle in Memphis.’ And that’s exactly what it is.”

Besides all the tangible giveaways, other benefits will be available — health screenings, haircuts from local barbers, empowerment sessions, such as financial literacy, voter registration, healthcare awareness for seniors, as well as COVID-19 testing, shots, and boosters.

School supplies, toiletries, hygiene products, and Home Goods, so many other miscellaneous things will be available because of the generosity of sponsors, such as Walmart and World Vision, and individuals who wanted to “bless the event.”

When a reindeer want do, an 18-wheeler can carry the load. This one was employed to help deliver Christmas in November in Memphis. (Courtesy photo)

Bishop J. Drew Sheard also recognized the immense importance of Christmas in November as forerunner of the 114th COGIC Holy Convocation, Nov. 8-15.

He assigned Bishop David Hall, pastor of Temple COGIC and newly elected member of the General Board, to work together on this year’s affair.

“Bishop Porter started Christmas in November 25 years ago at his church,” said Hall. “Now, the event has become a part of the International COGIC’s schedule of events. Bishop Porter is to be commended for his vision and initiative.

“I worked mainly in a support role, pulling together volunteers and taking care of the tasks necessary to undergird the efforts of Bishop Porter, who spearheaded the effort as he has done in former years. I’m just so grateful to be a part of such a wonderful occasion. We were happy to assist in any way we could.”

Porter, an accomplished pastor, author, singer, songwriter, and evangelist, has traveled the nation extensively, preaching the gospel.

He succeeded his father, the late Bishop W.L. Porter, founder of Greater Community Temple COGIC, and organizing prelate of the Tennessee Central Jurisdiction.

In 1991, Porter succeeded his father as pastor of Greater Community Temple COGIC, at the original North Memphis location, 924 N. Dunlap. The church has expanded to more than 5,000 members.

An additional, larger campus operates in southeast Memphis at 5151 Winchester Ave., in the Hickory Hill Community. Bishop W.L. Porter also was elected to the General Board.

“You can’t make preparations for an event of this caliber a couple of months before it’s scheduled,” said Porter. Bishop Hall and I have been working all year to make sure Christmas in November comes off without a hitch.

“Now, we’re just asking God to hold back the rain so people can be blessed, and our children can have a great day of fun.”

(Families who would like to sign up should call 901-527-9255.)

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