Thousands Attend Church Conference Bringing $1.5 Mil to Mtgy.

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By Jessica Gertler

The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church is holding several conferences lasting ten days. The event is drawing thousands of people from across the world and bringing millions of dollars to the city. 

"We travel to a lot of conventions," says Inez Pennington.  "They ask us to come and set up our hats and jewelry, shoes and whatever."

The Pennington sisters have made their way up from Ozark. They've set up shop at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel Convention Center where the A.M.E. Zion Church Conference is taking place.

Three thousand members, clergy and missionaries from across the world are attending the conference and are stopping by the booths between schedule events.

Pennington says the conference is helping business "very much so! Very much so!"

City officials are expecting a $1.5 million impact and say 6,000 hotel rooms in downtown and surrounding areas have been booked. Around a dozen vendors line the halls. Some say this conference will score some much needed business.

"Part of my business relies on the church conferences," says Manny Romal, who is selling suits.

This is the first time Barbara Waller and her five friends have been to Montgomery. In their free time, they've been exploring new restaurants.

"We went to some little deli, and we had a delightful meal," Waller says.

"We have seen nice places. They Alley way is one of the nicest places and the train station," says Irene McKen who is attending the event.

The conference changes locations every year, and it lasts through Thursday.

The city of Montgomery competed against other cities to win this conference. In past years, it's been held in Charlotte, North Carolina, Dallas, Texas and Houston, Texas.



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