National Baptist Convention coming to Memphis

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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - On the heels of the Church of God in Christ's announcement their convocation is leaving Memphis, the National Baptist Convention USA says they're coming - but that doesn't mean they're staying.

Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton and Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton welcomed the National Baptist Convention USA to Memphis for its 129th Annual Session of the Convention.

"We wish to promise you we will do all that we can to make this the best, the most successful convention you've had anywhere," Wharton said.

The announcement means COGIC will no longer be the largest convention in town.

"I want to impress upon you that the National Baptist Convention is equal, if not that of surpassing, the Church of God in Christ," Herenton said.

Both COGIC and the National Baptist Convention will bring $35 dollars to the city.  But COGIC is a 6.5 million member international denomination, while the National Baptist Convention has 7.5 million members.

Reverend Frank Ray says the Baptists meet biannually.

"The Congress of the Convention meets in June, the convention meets in September," Ray said. "So that's 30,000-40,000 that meet twice a year."

Herenton said the Baptists rotate between 10 cities.

"They try to rotate between cities every four years, so they will not replace COGIC," he said.

The convention is planning community outreach events, like a health fair and divinity classes.  Memphis was chosen for its location, affordable hotel space, and a great experience back in 2004.

"Memphis will open its doors," Herenton said. "We will show what good southern, Christian hospitality is."

The National Baptist Convention is scheduled for September 7th - 11th at Cook Convention Center, about a month after COGIC's last convention here.

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