Many presentations this year focused on the need for true evangelism and worship in the world, the cleansing power of repentance, the strength of the family, and remembrance of our true heritage and purpose as the church.
There was cleansing and “healing in the place” at the 2016 Auxiliaries in Ministry (AIM) Convention, the annual summer convention of the Church of God In Christ, Inc. Superintendent Linwood Dillard is the International Chairman of AIM, a family involvement experience geared toward spiritual enrichment, effectiveness in ministry, education and fellowship.
On the final day of AIM, NAACP President Robert Richardson Sr., and Cincinnati’s Mayor John Cranley attended the convention in response to the shooting of five police officers in Texas on the evening of July 7, and the shooting of Philando Castile in Minnesota. Mayor Cranley spoke about challenges between the police and the community in Cincinnati which are mirrored in other cities around the globe, sharing initiatives created to promote healing and understanding in the city. Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake then took the podium to request a moment of silence and prayer, and presented an official statement from COGIC which addressed the shootings.
“We could not come to Cincinnati and face the tragedies and crisis that our nation endures, and then conduct business as usual,” Bishop Blake said.
Bishop Blake said that the times require us to stop, pray, and ask for God’s guidance for our families, our cities, and for our people. He denounced the attacks on the police in Dallas which perpetuate the cycle of violence in our nation, and he also denounced the deadly force used by police, stating that “execution-style killings by the police do not institute due process” under the law. Bishop Blake called for peace in seeking justice, and that we pray for the families of the police and those who have been killed by the police.
“Our first commandment is to love God,” said Bishop, “and our second commandment is to love one another. I pray that love will prevail, and that our nation will strive to be an example to all nations.”
Additional highlights from the 2016 AIM Convention include:
- Bishop Vincent Mathews, Jr. cited the lives of David and Bathsheba, Solomon, Rehoboam, and Elisha; showing the effects of the sins of the parents on future generations, which Bishop Matthews referred to as “the dirty seat.” He encouraged us to keep our children close, and to take an active role in their spiritual development.
- The Elect Lady Dr. Rita Womack gave a prophetic word about the violence in our atmosphere and attacks on the weakest among us, and provided encouragement to those in attendance to move past earthly titles and man-made status in order to refresh the church. “We’re losing our best [and brightest] to the world because they feel there’s no place for them in the church,” said Dr. Womack.
- International Youth Department President Dr. Ben Stephens, III encouraged the youth to put down their Xboxes, maintain their virginity, and focus on excellence in their studies and in pursuit of God’s vision for their lives. “Because there’s a champion in you, you have to understand that it’s time to fight,” said Dr. Stephens. “The devil wants to cripple and destroy you. He wants to end your career. God only makes a way out of no way when you walk in God’s way. Even as youth, you must stand up for something.”
- Pastor Donnie McClurkin began his ministry at the convention with a powerful, acapella medley of “songs that the church forgot” which included “Rescue the Perishing” and “I Will Give You Rest.” He also reminded us, as he ministered in song in different languages, that missions start right across the street. “Sometimes I wonder if we remember the true essence of who we’ve been called to become,” said Pastor McClurkin. “We are all called to do the work of the evangelist. It is not a title…it is a way.”
Pastor McClurkin also shared a revealing testimony about his own battles with sin; admonishing us to put on repentance, and to “hate the qualities [which lie within us] that God hates.” Said Pastor McClurkin, “You cannot do the work of the ministry with unclean hands.”
The AIM Convention brings together the work of five COGIC auxiliaries: Music, Youth, Missions, Evangelism, and Sunday School. Events also included a College Summit, Youth Choir Showcase, and Disability Training. The 2016 AIM Convention runs from July 4-8 in Cincinnati, OH.