Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake Sr.

Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake Sr. preached at the Church of God in Christ’s Holy Convocation in 2016.

Photo by Wiley Price

If you’re a local resident or a yearly visitor in St. Louis during the first week of November, you will quickly recognize the end of Daylight Savings Time as it perfectly coincides with the convergence upon the downtown area of one of the city’s largest and most opulent conventions – the 112th International Holy Convocation of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC).

The charm of rolling out her red carpet to us is now a nearly 10-year-old tradition and, suffice it to say, we look forward to this time of year in St. Louis with great anticipation. The city first opened its arms to our Holy Convocation in 2010 when the international meeting was moved from our historic home base in Memphis after more than 102 years.

For eight full days and nights – November 5-12 – the America’s Center Convention Complex will house our early morning prayer services, afternoon worship gatherings, a recurring menu of lectures, seminars, workshops, academies and training institutes – all creatively flowing into the evening mass gathering of attendees from every continent, inclusive of the islands of the Caribbean, representing some 105 countries, nightly at 7 p.m.

Rooted in the tenets of the Protestant Reformation, the Church of God in Christ – the largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States with approximately 12,000 congregations worldwide – was organized by Charles Harrison Mason in 1907 and held its first Holy Convocation the same year. From the very outset of our humble beginning, 20 days – November 25 through December 14 – were dedicated as an annual meeting time for fellowship and to transact our ecclesiastical affairs pertinent to the growth of the national organization.

This period of the year was chosen since the majority of the attendees typically lived in farming districts, and by this time of the year, they had sufficient financial resources from the harvesting of their crops to enable them to attend and support a national meeting. This model, which has since flourished with unstoppable growth and expansion, is adopted from the sacred feasts

observed by ancient Israel, and has since become enthusiastically embraced and widely celebrated as the flagship meeting of the Church of God in Christ.

Having gradually outgrown the parameters of Memphis, St. Louis is where the Convocation has pitched its tent—at least for now. Undergirded by a series of household brand corporate sponsors, our Urban Initiatives outreach and our complete programmatic syllabus available via the downloadable COGIC app, the Church of God in Christ’s presence in St. Louis aims to leave an indelible hand-print upon every intersection of its cosmopolitan personality.

In fact, our “give-back” morale continues to be the driving principle of the Convocation, evidenced by our sensitivity to the importance of boosting local businesses, our commitment to strengthening community infrastructure and our passion for mobilizing opportunities for financial literacy and gainful employment.

You can expect the vehicle to these opportunities to be conveniently parked on the Second Level of the Convention Center, occupying such family-friendly passengers as a community-centered Health Fair (November 7-9 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. behind the COGIC Mart Exhibit Area) with professionally staffed medical screenings, flu shots and CPR Training; and our Law Day (November 9 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m., America’s Center, Room 240) featuring a team of legal professionals presenting on relevant topics as Wills and Trusts, Mortgage Alternatives to Foreclosure and Employment Law.

To jumpstart the spirit of the holidays, you’ll find something for the entire family at our Christmas In November (November 9, Williams Temple, 1500 Union Blvd., St. Louis, from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.) offering job referrals, cell phones for those qualified, children's toys, hot lunches and free groceries. These and all other week-long community-focused activities are open freely to the entire public.

For gospel music lovers, our International Department of Music will serenade the city from the center stage of the Convention Center Complex (Halls 4 and 5) on Thursday, November 7, beginning at 10:30 p.m. joined by a roaring appearance of guest artists including 13-time Grammy Award Winner Kirk Franklin. This rapidly sold-out event also features Bettye Ransom Nelson, Shelby 5, The COGIC Sopranos: Leslie Pace, Chrystal Rucker and Sharon Jackson and a Tribute to the late Rev. Timothy Wright with his sons, Donny, David and Dwayne. To reserve tickets, visit www.cogic.org/imd.

The crowning service of the week’s multi-layered agenda of events is the Lord’s Day Service, Sunday November 10 at 9 a.m.. All facets will merge into one at The Dome at the America's Center. Personally, this service marks a deeply meaningful and symbolic moment for me as it spotlights my passion for sharing the greatest news available to mankind for these times. The splendor of the Lord’s Day experience delegates me to reach and engage the multitude of onsite attendees, our local and greater St. Louis families and our international audience of online viewers through a prayerfully crafted message of hope.

For more information, visit www.cogic.org.

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