Adherents Consider Themselves: Christian
House of Worship: Church
Religious Leader: Pastor, Minister, Deacon
Population: 31,000 congregations and 7.5 to 9 million members
OTHER (GENDER, DRESS, ETC.)
The convention does not make official positions binding on its member congregations, state conventions and institutions. There are many women ordained and/or licensed to serve in the convention’s affiliated congregations. A number of women serve as Pastors of congregations and as Trustees to the boards of American Baptist colleges. Some congregations do not ordain or license women as ministers. Other congregations have women deacons.
Regarding LGBTQ issues, when some Pastors and congregations affiliated with the National Baptist Convention, USA, announced their support for same-sex marriage, the convention issued the following statement: “The National Baptist Convention, USA, does not dictate to its constituent churches what position to take on issues because we believe in the autonomy of the local church.” The National Baptist Convention does not have any official stance regarding Pentecostal and Charismatic expressions of worship in their churches’ services or in their meetings and conventions, as they believe their churches have autonomous authority. In fact, in many churches that are part of the National Baptist Convention, and in many of their meetings and conventions across the United States, their adherents and clergy often practice, believe in, and exhibit the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit that are practiced in Pentecostalism such as speaking in tongues and being “slain in the Spirit” in their worship services. They also make consistent use of high-tempo traditional Black gospel and Contemporary Christian music in their services.
When scheduling a meeting with members of the church, avoid Sundays and Mondays as well as the following holidays:
- Ash Wednesday—in the seventh week before Easter, the beginning of the meditative fasting periods of Lent
- Palm Sunday—seven days before Easter, the observance of Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem
- Maundy Thursday—the Thursday before Easter, the observance of the Last Supper of Jesus
- Good Friday—the Friday before Easter, the observance of the Crucifixion of Jesus
- Easter—first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or soonest after March 21, a day in which the Resurrection of Jesus is celebrated
- Pentecost—40 days after Easter, celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit
- Christmas—December 25, commemorating the birth of Jesus
The National Baptist Convention’s members form voluntary state and territory-wide local conventions. The state conventions are autonomous organizations and separately incorporated.
The National Baptist Convention, USA (NBCUSA) is made up of approximately 7.5 million AfricanAmerican Baptists, making it the largest AfricanAmerican organization in the country. It was founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1895 when the leaders of the American National Baptist Convention, the Baptist Foreign Mission Convention and the National Baptist Educational Convention joined to form the National Baptist Convention (NBC).
The NBC was rooted in the Consolidated American Baptist Missionary Convention (CABMC), which was formed in the 1860s as a platform for Black Baptists. The CABMC’s survival was contingent on the support of northern white Baptists and lost its funding after Reconstruction. The National Baptist Convention was formed in 1895 in order to unite Black Baptists and consolidate their influence. Elias Camp Morris was elected the NBC’s first President and served until his death in 1921.
The early NBC’s work included foreign missions, funding for education and the establishment of newspapers and journals. The NBC also created the National Baptist Publishing Board (NBPB) in 1896, which produced hymnals, Sunday School materials, and the National Baptist Union-Review.
In 1915, the NBC split into two separate factions, the National Baptist Convention, USA and the National Baptist Convention of America. The NBCUSA split again in 1961, this time over the issue of civil rights. Convention president Joseph Harrison Jackson promoted a conservative approach to civil rights, in contrast to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s nonviolent civil disobedience. While King did not wish to cause a schism, his supporters encouraged him to run for President. King and his allies eventually left the NBCUSA and formed the Progressive National Baptist Convention.