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English Speaking Protestantism

National Baptist Convention of the USA Inc.

Doctrines See Baptists. The National Baptist Convention of the USA Inc tends to be theologically conservative.

History In the 18th century as Baptist churches spread across the colonies many slaves and free blacks were converted and worshipped within established churches. In the north the first free black Baptist Church was formed in Boston in 1804. By 1824 black Baptist Churches were even sending missionaries to Africa. In 1836 the first large-scale organisational grouping of black Baptist churches was set up in Ohio, the Providence Baptist Association. In the South slave owners were hesitant to allow their slaves to form separate churches for fear it would encourage subversive tendencies, particularly after evidence that Nat Turner's rising in 1831 was fuelled by religious ideals. Ironically, it was actually in the South that as early as 1773-5 a plantation owner allowed the establishment of the first black Baptist church in Silver Balm, Georgia. Instead blacks worshipped in the Baptist churches of their masters where they usually made up the majority of worshipers. Following the Civil War free blacks made the formation of independent congregations one of their first priorities, and the autonomy emphasised by Baptist ideals helped ensure that it became the foremost denomination amongst the freed slaves.
Although state wide organisations of churches were soon formed in the late 1860s a national organisation took somewhat longer. The Reverend W. W. Colley, a missionary to Africa, returned in 1879 with a plan for an African Baptist Church supported from America. His ideas helped lead to the formation in 1880 of the Foreign Mission Baptist Convention of the USA. The national links formed by this body encouraged the development of other publication and educational bodies. By 1889 it was decided to merge all these bodies into one National Baptist Convention at a meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1915 the convention was riven by a schism caused by a dispute over ownership of the convention's publishing house. When the Convention's leadership attempted to assert more control of the publishing division, which had been organised by Rev R. Boyd, he left taking sizeable numbers with him. He formed the rival National Baptist Convention of America. In 1961 another split occurred over succession to the presidency of the convention and differing approaches to the Civil Rights movement. It resulted in the formation of the Progressive National Baptist Convention by the dissenters, who included Martin Luther King.
The worship of black Baptist churches is marked by more open expression of emotion than in white churches in which prominent singing and a active contribution from the ordinary worshiper is expected. While the services might seem more spontaneous than that of white churches in fact worship falls into patterns familiar to regular participants. The National Baptist Convention remains the largest grouping of black churches in the United States and supports a substantial amount of missionary and educational activities. (Also see Southern Baptist Convention and American Baptist Churches).

Symbols See Baptists.

Adherents About 8,200,000 in the USA in 1995 (World Almanac, 1995, 729).

Main Centre
 777 S.R.L. Thornton, Freeway St., Dallas, TX 75203, USA