Pre-registration for childcare during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 9-10 opens Feb. 1. BP/Special
By Tess Schoonhoven
ORLANDO (BP) — Southern Baptists looking to bring the whole family to Orlando for the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 9-10 will be able to pre-register for childcare Feb. 1.
Due to the popularity of this year’s meeting location, volunteers and coordinators anticipate more families attending and thus a greater need for childcare.
Three groups are spearheading the childcare options for the 2020 SBC annual meeting.
Youth on Mission will hold activities for teenagers, Giant Cow Ministries will head up the elementary age group, and volunteers from Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Temporary Childcare will manage preschool care for children from birth through age 5.
For the preschool childcare and the Youth on Mission experience there is a one-time, non-refundable $10 registration fee for each child.
Beth Bootz, communications coordinator for Send Relief, said that volunteers will be enlisted from Florida and surrounding states to serve during the meeting.
“Our hope is that we can accommodate up to 150 children birth to 5 years old,” Bootz said. “This is more than we have served in past years.”
Bootz plans to have rooms set up by age group, with adequate space for each expected attendee.
“Our rooms will be set up age appropriate, for example last year we set up 30 cribs in the baby room,” Bootz explained. “Since they are little ones, the activities will be lessons, games in their rooms, and we may possibly have a common play area.”
Bootz said they expect to know exact numbers for each age group beginning in May.
“It takes a village to serve our pastors and their children and we love every minute of it,” Bootz said.
The theme for the preschool age group will be “Diving Into God’s Word.”
“Our theme will set up a positive experience for children to learn about Jesus,” Bootz noted. “We also want our volunteers to have a fulfilling experience as they take care of these precious children.”
Preschool care (birth to 5 years) costs $25 per child per session and will be offered during each session of the SBC Pastors’ Conference June 7-8 and annual meeting June 9-10. Drop off will begin 30 minutes before each session. Each child must be picked up within 15 minutes of a session’s closing, unless a child is staying for lunch. If children are not picked up for lunch, a $6 per child per day (Monday-Wednesday) fee is required, even if the child does not eat the lunch provided.
Stephen Leckenby, Crew Boss for Giant Cow Children’s Ministries, said the organization has been working with the SBC for 20 years to provide childcare at the annual meeting.
“Each year we bring a familiar system for both kids and parents that features high-energy music, exciting and meaningful drama, inspiring lessons from God’s Word, and a group of staff and volunteers who may even be more excited about these events than the kids,” Leckenby said.
Leckenby said Giant Cow is anticipating close to 400 children in attendance, based on a previous number from a past annual meeting in Orlando.
“The best part is that with our years of events alongside SBC, we have developed relationships with a ton of families,” Leckenby said. “That means there are a whole lot of teenagers excited to volunteer alongside us to serve this bigger crowd.”
The goal of Giant Cow’s ministry is to bring energy, engagement, and entertainment to the communication of God’s Word to children, Leckenby said.
“With a culture permeated by millisecond, hype-based content for kids, we work to meet the challenge of shorter attention spans with memorable, impactful content of our own,” Leckenby said. “We do our absolute best to bring the fun and we let the power of God’s Word do what it always does in these scenarios: impact hearts and change lives.”
Leckenby said his hope is that through the teaching of the Gospel, children will gain an understanding of what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.
“We want them to understand that the choices they make and the obedience they demonstrate is not designed as an earning tool for approval from God but rather is in response to a relationship with their Savior who will never leave them or forsake them, who is constantly chasing after them and wants for them nothing but the best,” Leckenby said. “If we can plant even a small seed in the hearts of these kids that would help that relationship grow, maybe even happen for the first time, then we are happy as clams.”
Giant Cow Ministries events will be open during all pastors’ conference and annual meeting sessions. Pricing for pre-registrants is $30 per child for one day, $50 for two days, $60 for Monday-Wednesday and $70 for Sunday-Wednesday. Registering at the door raises each price by $5. Families with a teenager (14 or older) who volunteers to help in childcare are eligible for one free ticket.
Giant Cow ticket sales for the Orlando event will be available the first week of February at TheGiantCow.com.
Youth on Mission will host a missions experience for teenagers in attendance at the meeting.
Jess Archer, children/youth education strategist with Louisiana Baptists, has worked with the Youth on Mission since 2015 and said this year they are preparing for a bigger turnout.
Teenagers will hear from a missionary, learn about what’s going on in missions around the world, and then go out and serve, Archer explained.
“We want the students who come to the Youth on Mission experience to be exposed to what missions is all about,” Archer said. “We want them to understand what it means to serve in Jesus’ name. We want them to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
The students are divided into groups of around 10 each. These groups then go to a missions site and serve throughout the days of the meeting.
Some areas of previous service include homeless shelters, social service organizations, childcare, and food distribution centers.
“In serving they’re able to learn, they’re able to love others, and they even have opportunities to share their faith, and that’s big for young people,” Archer said.
YOM also hopes that by developing a heart for service in teenagers by exposing them to so many different areas of service, they will leave motivated to find ways to serve in their own community, Archer noted.
“They’re able to go back home to their respective states and then learn that the ministry and missions service doesn’t just happen when [in another] state,” Archer said. “[Students learn that] ‘I can do those things – ministry projects – right in my own community. I can get plugged in in my own hometown doing similar things, I can find a food bank to serve at, or I can serve with my youth group at this particular place.'”
Youth on Mission registration will be $55 per student. Activities will be Tuesday and Wednesday, June 9-10, beginning at 8 a.m. with a planned return of 4 p.m. each day.
For more information on the SBC annual meeting and how to register visit here.
Tess Schoonhoven is a Baptist Press staff writer.