Rev. Jeremiah Wright to headline Baptist conference

Gospel music, liturgical dancing, preaching and teaching -- and a sermon by President Barack Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. of Chicago -- will be the fare in Fort Lauderdale June 14-17 at the National Baptist Congress.

An estimated 6,000 to 8,000 people from four historically black denominations will attend the conference at the Broward Convention Center and the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina Hotel.

Wright is pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, where he served for 36 years before retiring in 2008. He presided over the establishment of about 70 ministry programs, including literacy, computer, child care, senior housing, HIV/AIDS education and college scholarships.

Wright will speak at 11 a.m. Thursday, June 16. Conference spokesman Roderick Jemison said the pastor hasn’t yet released a sermon topic.

Each night will feature one or more gospel stars. First up, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, will be Dorothy Norwood, a Grammy and Stellar award nominee who has become known as a gospel music storyteller over her 36-plus years.

Other gospel singers will include Grammy and Stellar winner Beverly Crawford, singing from her new "Live from Los Angeles, Volume 2" CD; choir director Melvin Dawson of Miami, and Norman Hutchins, a writer and producer as well as a singer.

Besides Wright, the conference will feature preaching and teaching by several South Florida clergy, from Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties as well as Broward.

Also at 7 p.m. Tuesday will be a free music and comedy concert for youths, headlined by Mark Gregory, nephew of comedian Dick Gregory. During the week, the youths will learn arts such as liturgical dancing and drill team marching.

The National Baptist Congress is produced by the R. H. Boyd publishing Company of Nashville, which calls it a "mobile school of Christian methods" to develop leaders and ministries.

This will be the 105th annual National Baptist Congress and the second in South Florida; the first locally was in 2000.

If you go

Event: National Baptist Congress

Featuring: Gospel music, preaching, teaching, comedy, liturgical dance, drill teams, classes on teaching, church finance, Bible studies, social issues

When: June 15-17, starting with Dorothy Norwood's gospel concert at 7 p.m. the first day; main opening at 9 a.m. Wednesday

Where: Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale

Cost: $110 for one class, $75 for the next class; for Dorothy Norwood concert at 7 p.m. Tuesday, $10 for adults, $5 for students

Registration: Onsite registration

Information: or 1-800-382-6772.

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