By David Waters
ST. LOUIS — Memphis gained a big vote in COGIC’s leadership Tuesday when Bishop Brandon B. Porter was elected to the 12-member General Board.
Porter, pastor of Greater Community Temple COGIC in Hickory Hill, will be the first Memphian on the board since Presiding Bishop G.E. Patterson died in March 2007.
The 53-year-old son of the late W.L. Porter was one of 23 candidates for four open positions on the board, the largest leadership turnover in COGIC’s history.
“I was thinking about my dad when they announced the results,” Porter said. “This election is about his legacy. It’s an honor for me but also for him and all the decades of service he gave to the church.”
Porter, finished 10th in the balloting with 2,011 votes, about 700 more than two other new board members, including one from St. Louis, Bishop L.M. Wooten.
The election of one board member from Memphis and another from St. Louis, which hosted COGIC’s annual Holy Convocation and General Assembly for the third consecutive year, sets up a potential board battle for returning the convocation to Memphis.
After having its most important annual meeting in Memphis for 102 years, COGIC moved it to St. Louis in 2010. COGIC has a contract with St. Louis for 2013, and has bid on future convocations, but no contracts have been signed beyond next year, Porter said. COGIC officials say Memphis has yet to bid on bringing the convocation back in 2014.
“We’re going to start the discussion now,” said Porter, who told delegates Monday night that he hopes the convocation will return to Memphis — COGIC’s international headquarters.
Memphis also did well in COGIC’s other quadrennial elections Tuesday.
Elder Charles Harrison Mason Patterson, great-grandson of COGIC founder C.H. Mason, was elected to a four-year term as the denomination’s national treasurer.
Patterson, who succeeded his father, Bishop J.O. Patterson Jr., as pastor of Pentecostal Temple COGIC, was named interim treasurer a year ago to complete the term of ailing Memphis Bishop Samuel Lowe.
“It’s a blessing, and I will work hard to uphold the church’s trust and my family’s legacy,” said Patterson, who was elected overwhelmingly.
Elder David Hall Jr. of Memphis, son of Bishop David Allen Hall, was elected to a second four-year term as a trustee. He finished third in balloting for the 15-member board.
Bishop Lowe’s wife, Georgia Macklin-Lowe, was elected to a four-year term on COGIC’s Board of Trustees. She finished sixth.
General Assembly delegates also elected two other new General Board members — Bishop J. Drew Sheard of Michigan and Bishop Ted Thomas of Virginia.
The new general board members filled four vacancies — one created by the 2011 death of Bishop Chandler David Owens, and three created by the retirements of Bishops W.W. Hamilton, Samuel Green, and J.N. Haynes — who surprised delegates Monday with his retirement announcement.
Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake of Los Angeles was re-elected to a second full-term, receiving more votes than any other General Board member with 2,963.
“This is a time of great transition for the church,” said Bishop Hall, pastor of Temple COGIC in Memphis. “We’re seeing a new generation of smart, aggressive and highly educated leaders rise up. It bodes well for the future.