Rev. Dr. Young presides over 50,000-strong annual meeting of National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.

September 17, 2015 in News, Religion

By Stephanie R. Jones

Contributing Writer

and

Wayne Risher

The Commercial Appeal

President Young addressing the National Baptist Convention in Memphis, Tenn. PHOTOS BY STAN CARROLL, THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL

President Young addressing the National Baptist Convention in Memphis, Tenn. PHOTOS BY STAN CARROLL, THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., led by Rev. Dr. Jerry Young of New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson, gathered in Memphis September 7-11, 2015 for its 135th annual session.

They came at an estimated 50,000 strong over the course of the five-day convention to a city accustomed to accommodating and welcoming church conventions. For years, the city of Memphis hosted the convocations of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), when it was headed by the late Rev. G.E. Patterson. That ended in 2010 when COGIC moved its convention to St. Louis.

Speaking about the NBC, “They’ve taken over the city,” said Kevin Kane, Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau president.

The Nashville-based convention, the nation’s largest black church group with 31,000 congregations and 7.5 million members, turned heads in August when organizers increased their projection of how many people would attend the event at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, according to the Memphis newspaper report from The Commercial Appeal. The church’s typical annual sessions have been attracting about 20,000.

Rev. Young was elected president of the denomination last year and support for him has been overwhelming. He addressed the gathering on Thursday, Sept. 10, continuing his message and theme for his tenure, “Envisioning the Future Exceptionally.”

Memphis hotel and tourism officials said the convention came at an opportune time, filling a normally slack period, according to The Commercial Appeal report. Downtown hotel rooms were sold out.

Matt Huss, general manager of the Sheraton Memphis Downtown, said the 600-room hotel is sold out, with Baptist convention delegates occupying all but a few rooms. “It’s a great group,” Huss said. “They’ve been very cordial, very friendly.”

“It’s definitely a good group for us,” said Kelly Earnest, spokeswoman for The Peabody hotel. “Typically after Labor Day, it’s a soft week for us. But having the Baptist convention and then the Southern Heritage Classic overlap the way they have, we’ve got many sold-out nights. It’s a very good piece of business and we’re grateful for it.”

COGIC, a Memphis-based denomination, regularly claimed crowds of 30,000 plus at its annual holy convocation before moving it to St. Louis because Memphis didn’t have enough hotel and convention space in 2010.The Memphis area contains about 22,500 hotel rooms.

Now, to accommodate all the needs of NBC, Kane said the bureau assigned a staff person to help find other hotel rooms for convention goers, a step that’s reserved for the biggest events. Delegates had booked about 25,000 room nights in Memphis hotel by Wednesday.

Rev. Young was taking a much needed rest and vacation after this busy week, said his daughter and media relations representative Jerlen Young-Nelson, Wednesday, Sept. 16.

“He’s on vacation. He’s recuperating from a great meeting. He’s not even answering my phone calls today,” she said with a laugh. More on Rev. Young’s sermon is reported in Reigning News in this issue of The Mississippi Link.

Stephanie R. Jones can be reached at srjones13@gmail.com or (601) 454-0372.

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