From Left: Elder Kale Mann, vice chair of AIM; Bishop William Watson, AIM convention coordinator; Judith Christie McAllister, international minister of music; Pastor Linwood Dillard II, AIM chairman; Bishop Alton Gatlin, president, of international Sunday school department; Bishop Vincent Mathews Jr., president of COGIC World Missions; Bishop Elijah Hankerson III, president, of international department of evangelism; Dorinda Clark Cole, elect lady of the international department of evangelism

Leaders from the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) kicked off their International Auxiliaries in Ministry (AIM) Convention at the Charlotte Convention Center on Monday – an event that is expected to draw more than 15,000 delegates to the city by the time the convention ends on Friday.

The gathering includes the missions, music, youth, evangelism, and Sunday school departments of the Pentecostal Holiness denomination.  Delegates will attend workshops, early morning prayer services, nightly services, and late-night musical celebrations. (All services will be streamed.)

AIM Chairman Linwood Dillard said the convention goes “from city to city, year to year and impacts the community as well as expands their reach to the glory of God.” The COGIC church, led by Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, has more than 12,000 churches and 6.5 million members in the United States, making it the nation’s fifth-largest Christian denomination.

This week’s family themed event offers activities for youth, including sessions for women and men on financial literacy, leadership, a spelling bee, a mathematics Olympiad, a comedy show, and late-night gatherings. The Scholastic Motivation Ministries will feature a robotics ministry, based on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Youth will learn about physics, mechanics, electronics, programming, vocabulary building, and much more.

Dillard said these activities “will empower and encourage young people about their walk with God.” Other workshops include a disability camp, a puppet ministry, a rising star talent showcase and sports activities.

On Thursday, the PB&J (Peanut Butter & Jelly) Club of young people will prepare sandwiches then distribute the food to the homeless community.

Gospel recording artists Judith McAllister, Dorinda Clark Cole, the COGIC International Youth Choir and Adult Mass Choir, Anthony Brown and Group Therapy, Kim Burrell, J. J. Hairston, Vashawn Mitchell, Chrystal Rucker, Ruth La’Ontra and others will minister in music throughout the week.

Church leaders said scores of people are hurting and feeling deep discouragement during this “season of divisiveness.” They believe that God still performs miracles and that God will prepare believers to be a light and salt in their community.

Most events are free, and the public is invited to attend. For a complete schedule of events, visit

Tonya Rivens is a veteran radio and television personality. She is currently seen on WCCB News Rising, Charlotte’s CW, at 8 a.m. weekdays. She also can be heard on “Sounds of Inspiration” from 6 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Streetz, 103.3 FM. Rivens works as associate chaplain with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office.