MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Memphis Mayor A C Wharton is headed to St. Louis to court the leaders of Church of God in Christ to bring their convention back to Memphis.
The Commercial Appeal reports Wharton on Friday is attending the church's annual convention, which was moved to St. Louis last year after being held for more than 100 years in Memphis.
The Memphis-based church and fourth-largest Protestant denomination drew as many as 50,000 people the convention each year but they announced two years ago that it would move the convention to St. Louis through 2012.
Church officials said at the time that there weren't enough hotel rooms near the Memphis Cook Convention Center, that hotel rates were too high and that the convention center was getting too small.
Since then, COGIC Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr. has said that the church would be open to returning to Tennessee in 2013.
Wharton along with his chief of staff Bobby White, Convention & Visitors Bureau president Kevin Kane; and bureau vice president John Oros will court COGIC leaders in St. Louis, where the annual convention is being held this week.
"We need them back here," Wharton said. "They are as much a part of the fabric of our city as the river or Memphis in May."