Black Meetings and Tourism

November/December 2020

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B M & T ••• November/December 2020 ••• 17 both just the right amount of attention. "It's stressful but fun," said Henry. "I thank God that I have good teams to help me pull each one of them off." Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International recog- nizes itself to be, in essence, the story of a tremendous move of God beginning in the last decade of the twentieth century. The spiritual-religious freedom that makes Full Gospel Baptist is said to have impacted Christian men and women across the world. At Full Gospel, Henry, 43, works fervently on the church's conferences and workshops. Anyone who has done event planning knows its no easy task. You name it, Henry does it - everything from selecting the venue, to ordering the food and beverage, obtaining hotel contracts, selecting security, obtaining airline tickets and ground transportation, making sure the conference goes off without a hitch, and more. "When it comes to conferences, we plan them 12 months out," said Henry. "Once we get done with the one we go right into our leadership conference, planning a full annual conference designed for the entire family. We have components for youth, women, men, pastors, and elders. We want to meet the needs of everyone." Henry, who plans six major confer- ences a year, said Bishop Joseph Walker has commissioned her office to focus on faith, family, fitness, and finances. "We will conduct classes on marriage, some- thing for singles and something for the youth because everyone is dealing with real life situations," said Henry, a 4'11" dynamo who attends numer- ous conferences annually to determine what should take priority on the agenda. "It can get deep in there. It seems that sex has become a heavy issue in our youth, as has homosexuality and people touching your chil- dren right in church." Over the years, Henry said the mission of Full Gospel has changed. "We've gone from Pentecostal to Baptist," said Henry. "When Bishop Paul Sylvester Morton retired in 2015 and Bishop Joseph W. Walker took his place, we had to recognize new leadership. Bishop Walker is hands-on and innovative. Together we work on his agenda. Our vision has always been sustainability, holiness, innovation, family and transcendence." Henry was voted president of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals and took the helm in 2017. NCBMP, found- ed in 1983, was previously named the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners. It is still a non-profit organization dedicated pri- marily to the training needs of African American meeting planners. It's committed to the improvement of the meetings, conferences, exhibitions, and conventions they manage. Since it was founded, NCBMP has made a significant impact in the hospitality communi- ty by identifying the sizable purchasing power and impact of the African-American convention. "My colleagues felt I had what it took to make changes," said Henry who took the helm in December 2017. "Since I've been in office we have updated our look and or brand and implemented a new website and logo. We have also become more vocal on social media. I'm also working on recruiting new members. We've done some major revamping." A huge believer in her faith, when Henry became the president she said it was in part to reflect that someone repre- senting an African American religious organization (Full Gospel) could run an organization like NCBMP. "In whatever capacity I happen to be in, I always repre- sent Full Gospel," said Henry. "That hap- pens wherever I go. I also pray before I make any decisions for both positions. I'm always looking for the best outcome." Henry believes regarding both positions, she is exactly where she is supposed to be. She also believes she's the best person for both jobs. "I'm Marlinda Henry," she said. "This is where God has me at this moment. This is where He sat me and I am in the seat to bring my best. I've been blessed and I'm very humble." As the president of NCBMP, Henry oversees the national office in Alexandria, Virginia. "I make sure that if there are calls coming in or if people need things, I provide the proper com- munication. I want to make sure everyone feels their needs are being acknowledged." NCBMP has about 200 members who are required to be planners, suppliers or someone in the hospitality industry. Henry, who is recruiting all the time, said part of her duties as president is to listen to the concerns of the membership, who because the organization is going through a transitional period, are anxious about where the organization is headed. "I make sure that if there are calls coming in or if people need things, I provide the proper communication. I want to make sure everyone feels their needs are being acknowledged."

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