The Rev. Dr. Timothy Stewart, PNBC 58th president, kicked off the 58th Annual Session at the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church with the Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, pastor, in the same church where King had been the pastor when the Progressive National Baptist Convention was founded. The service was filled with PNBC delegates and church members and Stewart started his sermon with explaining his theme, “In Pursuit Of Wholeness, Recovery of the Sacred,” (John 5:1-150. He then preached his first sermon at the Annual Session.
The Business of PNBC started on Monday with Executive Committee and Board Meeting, with the Evening Mission Night Theme focusing the convention major comment to Mission, the message was given by Dr. Ngwedla Paul Msisa, President, Baptist World Alliance.
Tuesday started Congress of Christian Education Classes, for education of members from all over the world for three days and ended with graduation. The Convention was opened with Stewart sounding the gavel before honoring the American Baptist College and Morehouse School of Religion. Later, Dr. Cynthia L. Hale Ray of Hope Christian Church preached a message of hope and pride for the PNBC delegates.
Wednesday’s highlights included the Dr. Gardner C. Taylor Hour, with a message from Dr. Otis Moss III, senior pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Moss knew King well and worked with him on several SCLC campaigns. The audience charged the stage after he finished his sermon. Other highlights included lectures targeting ministers and pastors in training.
During the evening, attendees celebrated during the John O. Peterson Freedom Banquet with a theme “From Commemoration to Celebration” which included a keynote address from Stacey Abrams. She spoke on the important of voting and being counted in the upcoming census.
Thursday’s focus followed up on the theme for the convention, “In Pursuit of Wholeness,” with an engaging panel. Panelists included: Ambassador Baffour Adjei Bawuah who spoke about the Return Home to Ghana, citing the 400th anniversary of Blacks in America; Dr. Mitri Raheb from Palestine, Dar Al- Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem; and Dr. Carolyn G. Thomas, East Preston, Nova Scotia, Canada. The moderator for the panel was the Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts who also gave a presentation on the history of the Baptist Church.
Youth activities dominated later as the “Youth Explosion” with choirs and dancers, followed by a press conference featuring the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., Bill Lucy, Stewart and Moss, as well as the presentation of resolutions and an official statement about gun violence in the U.S.