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The Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC) is a convention of African-American Baptists emphasizing civil rights and social justice.

The convention was formed at Cincinnati, Ohiomarker in 1961, in a separation from the older National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc. (NBCUSA). After the 1954 Supreme Courtmarker ruling concerning desegregation of public schools, the NBCUSA followed a policy of official detachment from the Civil Rights Movement. The desire of some members for the Convention's full support of the movement was a focus of discontent. Other disagreements concerned the election of officers and the length of the Convention president's term. The old Convention was unwilling to limit the tenure of officers, and it did not fully support the program and methods of Dr. Martin Luther King and others in the Civil Rights Movement. The proposal to limit tenure was also related to civil rights issues, as Dr. King supported the removal of the president, Rev. Joseph H. Jackson. King's support for and nomination of Gardner Taylor as president of the NBCUSA was defeated at the 1961 Convention, leading to the call for the formation of a new convention.

Thirty-three delegates from 14 states gathered at Zion Baptist Church in Cincinnati to discuss the issue. The vote to organize passed by one vote. L. Venchael Booth, pastor of Zion Baptist in Cincinnati, was the unheralded founder of the movement.

The PNBC has followed a path of political activism, supporting groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and methods such as affirmative action. Famous civil rights leaders who were members of the PNBC include Dr. Martin Luther King, Benjamin Mays, Ralph David Abernathy, Wyatt Tee Walker, and Gardner C. Taylor. The Convention bills the progressive concept as "fellowship, progress, and peace."

Sessions of the Convention are held annually in August. Headquarters are in Washington, D.C.marker. The PBNC has partnered with the predominantly white American Baptist Churches in the USA since 1970. It is a member of the National Council of Churches and the Baptist World Alliance. In 1995, one study asserted the Convention had 741 affiliated churches, while another claimed they had over 2,500,000 members in 2000 churches. A number of the churches are dually aligned with the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc.

The PNBC is one of the more liberal Baptist denominations in the United States. Among other characteristics, It ordains women, a practice not universally followed by Baptist groups.

External links


  • William Booth, A Call to Greatness: The Story of the Founding of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, ISBN 1-55618-196-5
  • Albert W. Wardin, Jr., Baptists Around the World, ISBN 0-8054-1076-7
  • Bill J. Leonard, editor, Dictionary of Baptists in America, ISBN 0-8308-1447-7
  • Frank S. Mead, Samuel S. Hill, & Craig D. Atwood, Handbook of Denominations, ISBN 0-687-06983-1
  • National Council of Churches, Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches

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