Progressive National Baptist Convention

Progressive National Baptist Convention, Incorporated
Classification Protestant
Orientation Mainline[1] Progressive Baptist
Polity Congregationalist
Associations National Council of Churches
Baptist World Alliance
Founder L. Venchael Booth
Origin 1961
Cincinnati, Ohio
Separated from National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
Congregations 741
Members 2.5 million

The Progressive National Baptist Convention, Incorporated (PNBC) is a convention of mainline African-American Baptists emphasizing civil rights and social justice. Since its organization, the convention now has member congregations outside the United States, particularly in the Caribbean and Europe.

It formed in 1961 after civil-rights-oriented Baptist ministers, led by Martin Luther King, Jr. failed to replace Joseph H. Jackson, the long-time head of the National Baptist Convention (NBC USA). The older group stood aloof from the Civil Rights Movement that was often led by local Baptist ministers. The dissidents nominated Gardner Taylor as president of the NBC USA.[2] After an hour-long fist fight between reformers and standpatters, in which one eminent elderly minister was accidentally killed, Jackson's supporters won. King was purged from the NBC USA and his goal of using the united power of the black Baptist community to promote civil rights came to nothing. His defeat prompted the formation of the new group.[3]

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 as documented by former Christianity Today Associate Editor, Edward Gilbreath. The convention was originally formed as the "Progressive Baptist Convention" and word "National" was added to the name in 1962. The convention has grown from the original founding numbers to member congregations throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa.

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 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 and recently celebrated their 50th Annual Session in Washington, D.C. in August 2011. The headquarters of the convention are in Washington, D.C. 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 2,000 churches. A number of the churches are dually aligned with the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc.

The PNBC recognizes the ordination of women, a practice not widely followed by Baptist groups. The convention does not ordain women, however, their member churches may do so without interference.

Likewise, the PNBC allows locally autonomous congregations to determine policy regarding same-gender marriages, and the PNBC has not taken an official stance on the issue leaving room for diversity of opinion.[4]


  1. Avant Jr., Albert A. "The Social Teachings of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., since 1961". Routledge. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  2. Jerry M Carter (Jr) (2007). The Audible Sacrament: The Sacramentality of Gardner C. Taylor's Preaching. ProQuest. pp. 5–7.
  3. Taylor Branch (2007). Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63. Simon and Schuster. pp. 228–31, 500–7.
  4. Salmon, Jacqueline L. (2007-08-19). "Rift Over Gay Unions Reflects Battle New to Black Churches". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-02-25.

Further reading

  • William Booth, A Call to Greatness: The Story of the Founding of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, ISBN 1-55618-196-5
  • Gilbreath, Edward, The Forgotten Founder, Christianity Today, Vol. 46, No. 3, 11 March 2002
  • 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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