News Articles

D.C. convention votes to align with Progressive National Baptists

WASHINGTON (BP)–The District of Columbia Baptist Convention voted overwhelmingly to align itself with the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., during its Nov. 17-18 annual meeting at First Baptist Church, Washington.
The Progressive National Baptist Convention encompasses more than 1,400 predominantly African American churches.
The 47,000-member District of Columbia Baptist Convention has been linked with the Southern Baptist Convention and American Baptist Churches since its inception. This decision makes the DCBC the only Baptist body in the Southern/American Baptist orb to become triply aligned.
Jere Allen, DCBC executive director/minister, said of the alignment, “This move, under consideration for several years, takes our convention further in its historic mandate to advance the work of all Baptists in the United States. This new convention offers even more evidence of the DCBC’s existence as a diverse body of Baptists.”
Speaking at the annual meeting after the historic vote, Bennett W. Smith, president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, declared the occasion one of great “restoration and celebration.” He cordially welcomed D.C. Baptists to the Progressive Baptist “fold” and expressed a keen desire to lead his convention to work “very closely with Baptists in the nation’s capital.”
Joseph M. Smith, pastor of Takoma Park Baptist Church, Washington, chaired the special committee that managed the process. “DCBC’s participation in the (PNBC) only strengthens two very healthy denominations,” Smith stated during discussion preceding the vote. “The cross-pollenization of members and leaders will place both groups in even more favorable positions to serve our Lord, in greater Washington and around the nation.”
Staff members from both denominations will spend time together during the next months in efforts to understand each other better. Tyrone Pitts, executive director of the Progressive convention, in talking with Jere Allen and others of the DCBC, observed, “We will have to engage in ‘simultaneous translations’ as we figure out what each means as we toss out language and nomenclature known to one group but not known to the other.”
Progressive Baptist member organizations contribute at least $500 annually to the PNBC entitling them to voting at annual meetings. Individual churches are encouraged to contribute at least 1 percent of the their undesignated funds to the work of the national body.
The vote entails a change in the DCBC constitution and bylaws to make the alignment fully operational, a process that will take a year to complete.
In other business, by the D.C. convention’s 200 delegates, a 1998 budget of $1,374,481 was adopted, a 16 percent increase over the current year.
Gifts to the SBC Cooperative Program and to ABC/USA United Missions will increase by 2 percent of budget, for a total of 33 percent of all undesignated monies going to national and international missions and ministries — the fourth consecutive year for increasing its missions giving by 2 percent of budget. The convention’s 103 churches and missions gave a total of $208,182 in Cooperative Program gifts during the 1997-97 fiscal year, an increase of 27 percent over the previous year.
John Munson, a layman from First Baptist Church, Silver Spring, Md., was elected convention president, Florence C. Dennis, a laywoman from First Baptist Church, Washington, vice president. Both were recommended by the convention’s nominating committee and approved by acclamation.
John Burns, pastor of University Baptist Church, College Park, Md., delivered the convention sermon, declaring his intention to surrender concern for his “career” while recapturing the sense of “call” that placed him in the ministry more than 20 years ago. Several participants in the meeting declared that Burns’ “honest, open, powerful, liberated and liberating” sermon was a moment of “epiphany” for them.
Next year’s meeting will be Nov. 16-17 at Israel Baptist Church, Washington.

    About the Author

  • Robert L. Maddox