Progressive National Baptist Convention
ClassificationMainline Protestant
OrientationProgressive, Baptist
PresidentDavid Peoples
AssociationsNational Council of Churches
Baptist World Alliance
FounderL. Venchael Booth
Cincinnati, Ohio
Separated fromNational Baptist Convention
Members1.5 million (2023)

The Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC), incorporated as the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., is a mainline Baptist Christian denomination emphasizing civil rights and social justice.[1] The headquarters of the Progressive National Baptist Convention are in Washington, D.C.[2] Part of the Black church tradition, since its organization, the denomination has member churches outside the United States, particularly in the Caribbean and Europe. It is a member of the National Council of Churches and the Baptist World Alliance.[3][4]


Service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, affiliated with the convention.

The Progressive National Baptist Convention formed in 1961 after civil-rights-oriented Baptist ministers led by L. Venchael Booth of Zion Baptist Church in Cincinnati, failed to replace Joseph H. Jackson, the long-time head of the National Baptist Convention (NBC USA).[5][6] The older group stood aloof from the civil rights movement which was often led by local Baptist ministers;[7] the National Baptist Convention (NBC USA) often preached spiritual salvation rather than political activism. The dissidents nominated Gardner C. Taylor as president of the NBC USA.[8] After a fist fight between reformers and stand-patters,[9] in which one elderly minister was accidentally killed, Jackson's supporters won. King was ousted from the NBC USA and his goal of using the united power of the black Baptist community to promote civil rights came to nothing.[5] His defeat prompted the formation of the new predominantly African American Baptist denomination.[10]

Thirty-three delegates from 14 states gathered at Zion Baptist Church in Cincinnati to discuss the issue.[11] The vote to organize passed by one vote. L. Venchael Booth, pastor of Zion Baptist in Cincinnati, was elected first president of the convention.[12] The convention was originally formed as the "Progressive Baptist Convention" and the 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.

Following a path of political activism, the Progressive National Baptist Convention supported 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 Jr., Benjamin Mays, Ralph Abernathy, Wyatt Tee Walker, and Gardner C. Taylor. The Progressive National Baptist Convention bills the "progressive concept" as "fellowship, progress, and peace."

In 1969, Uvee Mdodana Arbouin became the first ordained woman pastor in the convention.[13]

The Progressive National Baptist Convention celebrated its 50th Annual Session in Washington, D.C., in August 2011.[14] The PBNC has partnered with the predominantly white mainline American Baptist Churches USA since 1970.[15]

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 (NBC USA) and American Baptist Churches in the USA. According to a census published by the association in 2023, it claimed 1,500,000 members in 1,362 churches.[16]

In 2022, the Progressive National Baptist Convention elected Jacqueline A. Thompson as second vice president, which made her the first woman to hold an elected leadership role in the Progressive National Baptist Convention.[17]


In the denomination, many members identify with Progressive Baptist theology—being theologically moderate to liberal; this contrasts with the theologically conservative to moderate National Baptist Convention and National Baptist Convention of America. The Progressive National Baptist Convention collectively recognizes the ordination of women.[11] Contrasting, its predecessor—the NBC USA—has no official position on women's ordination, though women do serve as pastors in the convention. According to the PNBC, it creates "opportunities for women in ministry to learn and serve."[18]

Likewise, the Progressive National Baptist Convention allows locally autonomous congregations to determine policy regarding same-sex marriages, and the PNBC has not taken an official stance on the issue, leaving room for diversity of opinion.[19]

See also


  1. ^ "Home". Progressive National Baptist Convention. Retrieved 2023-07-14. PNBC was formed to give full voice, sterling leadership and active support to the American and world fight for human freedom. The convention was the convention -denominational home and platform for the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who addressed every annual session of the Convention until his death in 1968. New generations of Progressive Baptists are continuing the struggle for full voter registration, education and participation in society, economic empowerment and development, and the realization of universal human rights and total human liberation for all people.
  2. ^ "Contact PNBC". Progressive National Baptist Convention. Retrieved 2023-07-14.
  3. ^ "Member Communions". National Council of Churches. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  4. ^ "Member Unions". Baptist World Alliance. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  5. ^ a b Anderson, Meg (2009-03-29). "Progressive National Baptist Convention (1961- )". BlackPast. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  6. ^ Anderson, Meg (2009-03-29). "National Baptist Convention (1895- )". BlackPast. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  7. ^ "Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC)". The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute. 2017-06-20. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  8. ^ Jerry M Carter (Jr) (2007). The Audible Sacrament: The Sacramentality of Gardner C. Taylor's Preaching. pp. 5–7. ISBN 9780549381532.
  9. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: Christian Denomination Started with a Fist Fight!, retrieved 2021-08-11
  10. ^ Taylor Branch (2007). Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63. Simon and Schuster. pp. 228–31, 500–7. ISBN 9781416558682.
  11. ^ a b "Progressive National Baptist Convention". World Council of Churches. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  12. ^ C. Douglas Weaver, In Search of the New Testament Church: The Baptist Story, Mercer University Press, USA, 2008, p. 208
  13. ^ Erich Geldbach, Baptists Worldwide: Origins, Expansions, Emerging Realities, Wipf and Stock Publishers, USA, 2022, p. 111
  14. ^ "Historic gathering of presidents in nation's capital". The Philadelphia Sunday Sun. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  15. ^ "PNBC 1970 Minutes" (PDF). Southern Baptist Historical Library & Archives. 1970. Retrieved April 25, 2023.
  16. ^ "Progressive National Baptist Convention | USA Membership". Baptist World Alliance. Retrieved May 5, 2023.
  17. ^ Wingfield, Mark (August 18, 2022). "Progressive National Baptist Convention elects woman to leadership role for first time". Baptist News Global.
  18. ^ "Membership". Progressive National Baptist Convention. Retrieved 2023-07-14.
  19. ^ 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