Thousands of visitors will converge on Baltimore, July 1-5, for the 2013 Church of God in Christ International AIM Convention, which returns to Charm City 10 years after its last visit.
“We’re anticipating a very well-attended convention,” said the Rev. Carl Pierce Sr., pastor of Carter Memorial Church of God in Christ in Baltimore and chairman of the local host committee.
More than 25,000 people are expected to attend the church’s annual conference at the Baltimore Convention Center on Pratt Street, but don’t expect them to be corralled downtown, Pierce said.
“We will be all over the city,” he said.
In addition to visiting local tourist attractions such as the B&O Railroad and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, conference attendees will be involved in many outreach efforts.
“We will be going out on the streets of Baltimore encouraging and inspiring people,” Rev. Pierce said. Attendees will also minister at nearby prisons and will perform community clean-up and other outreach projects.
The activities, said Pierce, reflect the goals of the convention.
“The AIM convention is geared toward spiritual enrichment, fellowship and training for more effective world outreach,” he said.
AIM stands for Auxiliaries in Ministry and the overall conference will be broken down into mini-conventions organized by auxiliaries. There will be the Music and Youth Convention, the Mission and Evangelism Convention and the Sunday School Convention.
Each day will offer a “plethora” of classes and other pursuits geared toward every age group, Rev. Pierce said.
“This is a family convention, offering a ‘mall’ of activities for the entire family,” he said.
“The youth church will draw thousands of young people every day and they’ll be praising God, loving on God, singing, preaching….”
Parents can also drop their children off at the children’s church where “all of the personnel have been vetted to ensure the safety of children,” the Baltimore pastor said.
At 7 p.m. each night, all three mini-conventions will re-congregate for a session of praise, worship and the word. The preachers for each night will be, in order: Pastor Pierce, who is also vice chairman of the International AIM Convention; Pastor Roderick Hennings, of Zion Global Dominion Ministries in Amherst, N.Y.; Evangelist Rita Womack, who heads COGIC’s International Department of Evangelism; Superintendent Linwood Dillard Jr., chairman of the International AIM Convention; and Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., presiding prelate of the COGIC denomination.
Music will be a highlight of the conference, and Judith C. McAllister, International Minister of Music and president of the International Music Department, promises “three incredible nights of musical celebration.”
The celebration begins on Wednesday with “A Night Of Worship,” with Psalmist Sharon Jackson and Send Judah First and other Worshippers United; followed on Thursday by the “Youth Explosion,” with Evangelist Vandalyn Kennedy and Minister Michael Hunt and the International Youth Choir; and ends Friday with “IMD Praise Party,” with national recording artists Dr. McAllister and the International Mass Choir of the Church Of God In Christ, along with some of the industry's most notable artists. Special musical guests include Stephen Hurd, Jonathan Butler, Anthony Brown and Group Therapy, Y’Anna Crawley and many others.
The concerts occur after each evening’s worship. Admission is open to the public and free except for the Friday night performance, which carries a fee of $10 in advance and $15 at the door.
Like the musicals, the other convention events are open to the general public, Rev. Pierce said.
“This is not just a convention specifically for Church of God in Christ [or] for ‘church folk;’ anyone can walk in off the street and participate,” he said.
That openness also points back to the ultimate goal of the five-day gathering, Rev. Pierce said.
“We don’t go into a city just to hold a convention; we go to orchestrate change and to leave it impacted in a very positive way by our presence,” he said.
“Even prior to the conference, people will be here praying and believing in God for a great impact,” he added. “We just expect great things to happen.”
For more information, visit: http://www.cogic.org/aim/files/2013/06/AIMSchedule.jpg.