MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Big changes are ahead for the Church of God in Christ as the Presiding Bishop announces he is not seeking reelection.
The Church of God in Christ has been under the leadership of Bishop Charles Blake for 13 years. But 80-year-old Blake says the coronvairus pandemic made him reflect on his life and the major expansion project underway at his own Los Angeles Church.
“As a result of this major undertaking, I have made the decision not to seek re-election as a member of the General Board or as Presiding Bishop,” Blake said.
Bishop Brandon Porter of Memphis is on the General Board for COGIC, and he says Blake’s impact can be seen all around Memphis.
“We love Bishop Blake and he had been a stellar leader,” Porter said. “Housing development as you can see right here on Mason Street, some 79 beautiful town homes there. The renovation of Mason Temple.”
COGIC’s annual convocation was one of the largest conventions in Memphis for decades, pumping millions into the economy as thousands descended on the city until a lack of hotel space sent them to St. Louis in 2010.
“You had so many hotels that were large right around the Convention Center (in St. Louis) and you can get everybody under one roof,” Porter said. “So, that was a convenience that Memphis still cannot accommodate.”
But Memphis is where COGIC was founded and now the saints are coming home in 2021, with a 3-year deal to bring the Holy Convocation back to Memphis.
Porter was instrumental in that push.
“Memphis is home for the Church of God in Christ, though,” Porter said. “We want to be considered, we want to be respected.”
They still won’t be under one roof, but they will see a renovated Convention Center.
“When they return to Memphis, they are gonna love the new Renaissance Convention Center,” said Kevin Kane with the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau. “I call it new because it’s really more than a renovation. It’s like a brand new building. I think the saints are gonna be in a state of shock with the changes that have taken place at the Convention Center.”
COGIC members still have to vote on their new leadership, but could it mean their convocation may be back in Memphis for good, beyond 3 years?
“We can’t say for good, because no entity books a convention beyond 3 years,” Porter said. “If Memphis keeps getting good, then things will keep getting better.”
This year, because of the pandemic, COGIC’s annual convocation next month will be virtual, but they still haven’t decided if they will vote on a new Presiding Bishop at that time.