By Reginald L. Porter, Sr.
Special to The Commercial Appeal
In 1961, a group of young men and women did a new thing.
They were frustrated by the status quo of the National Baptist Convention and disappointed when one of their number, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was not allowed to speak at the convention.
This group started the Progressive National Baptist Convention, which became a powerful religious movement and a strong, prophetic voice in the civil rights struggle.
Next week, we will gather in Memphis to celebrate the 51st Annual Session of the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC). Events will be held every day from Monday through Friday at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. Join us.
The PNBC, currently led by Dr. Carroll A. Baltimore, has included in its membership some of the most dynamic preachers of our time: Dr Gardner C Taylor, Dr. Charles Adams, Dr Otis Moss Jr. and, of course, Dr. King. Local PNBC leaders have included Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles and Dr. Fred C. Lofton.
One of the highlights of the week will be a special Monday afternoon march from Clayborn Temple to the National Civil Rights Museum, where a special service will honor our fallen brother, Dr. King. The service will begin at 2 p.m.
The convention will feature powerful preaching, sound teaching, soul-stirring music, and wonderful fellowship.
We will also serve the Memphis community. PNBC will make a contribution to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, provide school supplies to three middle schools, visit and provide gift cards to women’s shelters, lead a community forum for men and youths, and sponsor a health fair. We seek to minister to body and spirit.
The convention is hosted by the 11 member churches of the Tennessee Progressive Baptist Council.
The Progressive National Baptist Convention, established by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other Baptists in 1961, will hold its 51st annual session in Memphis next week. All events are at Cook Convention Center unless otherwise noted. Here are highlights:
11 a.m. Dr. Carroll A. Baltimore, PNBC president, will preach at Metropolitan Baptist Church, 767 Walker.
2-5 p.m. March from Clayborn Temple to National Civil Rights Museum to honor Dr. King.
7 p.m. Guest preacher, COGIC Bishop Charles E. Blake.
10 a.m. Opening session.
12:30-1:30 P.M. Tour St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
7:30-9 p.m. Youth Extravaganza 2012. Guest preacher: Rev. Philip Pointer of Little Rock.
9 p.m. Play: “Women in the Word: the Biblical Monologues”
10 p.m. Guest Preacher: Dr. Tony Evans
1:30 p.m. Laymen’s 50th anniversary lunch. Guest preacher: Dr. J. Alfred Smith, 11th PNBC president.
7:30 p.m. President’s Night
10:30 a.m. Convention closing session, officers installed. Closing sermon: Dr. David Bullock of Highland Park, Mich.
Dr. Reginald Porter is senior pastor of historic Metropolitan Baptist Church in South Memphis.