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Congress of National Black Churches, Inc.

Congress of National Black Churches, Inc.

The Congress of National Black Churches (CNBC), an interdenominational religious organization, is an umbrella organization of eight major African-American denominations that represents 65,000 churches and over 20 million individuals. Based in Washington, D.C., CNBC was founded in 1978 by Bishop John Hurst Adams of the African Methodist Episcopal Church to establish dialogue within the African-American community across denominational lines and to facilitate collective church action. It unites the following denominations: African Methodist Episcopal; African Methodist Episcopal Zion; Christian Methodist Episcopal; Church of God in Christ; National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.; the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.; National Missionary Baptist Convention of America; and Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. The board of directors of CNBC is made up of four representatives from each denomination and meets twice a year. A staff of approximately twenty people, headed by an executive director, implements policy and keeps the organization running on a day-to-day basis.

The platform of the CNBC has two goals. First, it strives to provide moral leadership for African Americans, enhance spirituality, and strengthen values. Second, the Congress operates as a social service agency, providing material assistance to meet the needs of the poor and augment the power of the African-American community. It holds seminars and awards fellowships to those interested in the ministry as a career. In the past the Congress initiated an Anti-Drug Campaign to provide assistance and information to community groups that want to rid their neighborhood of drugs, and it discussed the possibility of providing health insurance for larger numbers of African Americans. In 1993, in cooperation with Africare, it raised over $100,000 for the starving people of Somalia. According to Bishop Adams, the vision includes "organizing the institutional power of the black church to address the pragmatic needs of the black community. It is to use power to relieve pain; to use power to enhance possibilities."

One of CNBC's most well-known and successful ventures, which combines both these goals, is Project SPIRIT (Strength, Perseverance, Imagination, Responsibility, Integrity, and Talent). Launched in 1985, SPIRIT has as its central component an after-school tutoring and moralebuilding program. Other aspects of this project, which is designed to strengthen the black family, are a weekly session for parents on child rearing, and counseling sessions to prepare pastors to deal with family problems. Another major project of CNBC was the creation in 1984 of the Church Insurance Partnership Agency, an alliance between churches and insurance companies, which provides churches with property and liability coverage. More recently CNBC has begun a dialogue about sexuality to examine AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, homosexuality, male-female relationships, and birth control within the black community. In the early 2000s, CNBC began working on other socially and politically important projects, including partnering with a major telecommunications company to expand access to the Internet and technology to underserved communities.

See also African Methodist Episcopal Church; African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc.


"Economic Salvation." Black Enterprise (June 1984): 56.

"Health Debate Rages On." Black Enterprise (May 1992): 20.

Poinsett, Alex, and Avery Russell. "Black Churches: Can They Strengthen the Black Family?" American Visions (October 1988): 910.

Visions: The Congress of National Black Churches, Inc. (newsletter) 3, no. 1 (spring 1993).

premilla nadasen (1996)
Updated by publisher 2005

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