The Progressive National Baptist Convention – the denominational home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – will hold its 51st annual session in the city where he died.
The event, which will be anchored at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, will begin Aug. 5 and run through Aug. 10. Activities will include a voter empowerment seminar and a march to the National Civil Rights Museum in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A number of clergymen are scheduled to speak each day, including the Church of God in Christ Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr.
An estimated 4,000 members will be in Memphis for the five days of Bible-based worship experiences, Biblical exegesis, preaching, study groups, lectures, gospel music, and an opportunity for participants to fellowship, renew relationships and develop new ones.
The host pastor is the Rev. Dr. Reginald Porter of Metropolitan Baptist Church, with the 11-member Tennessee Progressive Baptist Council serving as co-host. The Rev. Anthony Henderson of Beulah Baptist is the council's president.
"Dr. King was literally denied the opportunity to speak at the National Baptist Convention," said Porter. "The Progressive Convention was born in 1961 and therefore obviously has always had a strong civil rights emphasis."
Many of the civil rights movement's most prominent figures nationally and locally have been Progressive Baptists, said Porter, relaying that the Rev. Dr. Fred C. Lofton, former pastor of Metropolitan, was the 16th president of the convention.
"Part of meeting this year will be a special service, brief march at the Civil Rights Museum honoring Dr. King and our civil rights legacy as well," said Porter.
In addition, convention departments will host a health fair, put on a special project for schools, support women's shelters and carry out street ministering.
"Through our Missions Department we will be making a contribution to St. Jude's Hospital. Last year we contributed $10,000 to St. Jude," said Porter.
COGIC's Presiding Bishop Blake will speak Monday night (Aug. 6).
Dr. Caroll A. Baltimore Sr., the PNBC's president, is the Senior Pastor of the International Community Baptist Churches in the USA and the Philippines. He will speak at Metropolitan on Sunday (Aug. 12) morning.
The Progressive National Baptist Convention is a Baptist church family of 2.5 million African-American members organized into five regions: the Southern Region, the Southwest Region, the Eastern Region, the Midwest Region and the International Region. Its headquarters are located in Washington, D.C.