Before this weeks meetings at the Charlotte Convention Center got underway, members of the National Baptist Convention USA held a day of service and musical performances from local youth and adults.
The convention Americas oldest and largest black Baptist organization is holding its 133rd annual meeting in the Queen City this week.
About 45 young people got up early Monday morning to help distribute bags of food to the hungry, said the Rev. Trevor Beauford, Friendship Missionary Baptist Churchs children, youth and singles minister. Other people worked on a Habitat for Humanity project, while others volunteered at a health fair, among other projects.
Its been a great day, Beauford said. Im super-duper proud of my middle-schoolers and high-schoolers who got up so early on their day off from school.
He estimated between 500 and 800 people attended the youth musical performances at Friendship on Monday afternoon, and that about 4,000 would attend the adults performances later in the evening.
The convention typically draws about 20,000 people from around the country. Meetings begin uptown at the Charlotte Convention Center Tuesday morning and will continue through Friday.
At the church, many young people sang; other local youths played instruments and some acted out a play. Many of the performing youths were a part of the local organization, Inspire the Fire.
I love em, said Marian Hockenhull, the conventions national director of the young peoples department, of Flint, Mich. I love the way they sang; it was beautiful. ...This is local talent.
This years convention is the first one held in Charlotte.
To be able to host the National Baptist Convention is a big deal, not just for our church but for the city, said Friendship member Gertha Crumpler, 62, who came to her church Monday afternoon to watch the youths perform.
Myra McManus, 59, of Concord, went to see her granddaughter perform Monday and said she loved watching young people express themselves and worship musically.
She said she plans to attend more convention events throughout the week.
I am so excited, said McManus, who attends First Baptist Church in Kannapolis. There is going to be so much information and education here where you can just grow from the word of God.
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