Check off another victory for the Internet’s never-ending assault on paper. For the first time in their 195-year history Georgia Baptists will no longer pre-register for their annual meeting using messenger cards.
The process will move into the digital age with online pre-registration next month. As a result, messenger cards will no longer be mailed to churches. A letter to all churches from Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director J. Robert White will detail the process in mid-September.
Calvary Baptist Church in Savannah will host the 2016 annual meeting on Nov. 14-15. The two-day gathering will follow the Nov. 13 inspirational rally at the church.
In making the historic announcement, White said churches will elect messengers the same way as in previous years; only the pre-registration process is different.
Number of messengers determined by gifts received through Dec. 31, 2015
Churches will be allotted a set number of messengers based on their level of Cooperative Program gifts and total gifts from Jan. 1 through December 31, 2015. That process is detailed in Article II in the Mission Board’s Constitution, as follows:
Article II. Membership
Section 1. This body shall be composed of messengers from cooperating Baptist Churches. A cooperating church is one that gives evidence of its belief in Holy Scripture as its authority in matters of faith and practice and is in harmony and cooperation with the work and purpose of this Convention. A cooperating church does not include a church which knowingly takes, or has taken, any action to affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior.
Section 2. Messengers. Each cooperating church, having contributed through the Convention for the Cooperative Program and Convention causes during the preceding year, shall be entitled to two messengers and to one additional messenger for each $800 contributed through this Convention for the Cooperative Program and Convention causes, but in no case shall any church be entitled to more than fifteen (15) messengers.
Section 3. Voting by proxy is not permitted.
Mission congregations may request messengers to be registered through their sponsoring church as they do not qualify for messengers directly.
If the number of messengers, as indicated in the letter, is “0” then the reason is because the congregation is not a constituted church or the congregation did not make any contributions through the Convention for the Cooperative Program in the year 2015.
White noted that the change is being made “to provide the best assistance for messengers and to encourage their participation in the Annual Meeting.” The transition from paper to digital will also “release administrative funds to be redirected for ministry use.”
He also noted that the Southern Baptist Convention, in recent years, moved to online pre-registration.
Three easy steps
The following three easy steps, which will be included in White’s letter, will be used for online registration. The online registration is not available at this time but will debut in mid-September.
- Login to IGO (as done in the ACR process);
- List the names of messengers elected by your church;
- Print the confirmation for each messenger to bring to the Convention Annual Meeting Registration area to receive ballots.
Registration will be open 12 noon through 9 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14 and 7:30 a.m. through 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15.
Anyone having questions is encouraged to contact Kevin Wilson at the Mission Board at (770) 936-5294, (800) 746-4422 ext 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on the meeting itself visit gabaptist.org/annualmeeting.
In a nutshell, what you need to know
- Online registration is coming in mid-September but is NOT available until that time.
- Churches are to elect messengers the same way as in previous years.
- The formula for calculating the number of messengers allowed each church has not changed.
- In September, each church will receive a letter from Dr. J. Robert White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, with the number of messengers allowed for the church and detailed instructions about pre-registering messengers.
- The church will print credentials for elected messengers directly from the website.
- Messengers are to bring the printed credentials to the Annual Meeting Registration area at Calvary Baptist Temple in Savannah to receive ballots and a name badge.