With ten days to go, the number of Georgia Baptists registered to attend the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in St. Louis June 14-15 has exceeded the total that took part in last year’s Columbus, OH gathering.
Bill Townes, SBC vice president for Convention Finance, told The Index this morning that 321 Georgia Baptist messengers had pre-registered, compared to 290 last year. Those numbers, he added, wouldn’t be updated until a final tally was compiled after the meeting. Pre-registration for the event is available at the annual meeting website.
The increase is a reflection of an overall growth of messengers. Baptist Press reported June 1 that 4,923 had pre-registered for St. Louis compared to 3,267 preregistered messengers last year. In addition, hotel reservations are up 23 percent. Last year 5,407 attended the annual meeting.
Townes projected as many as 7,000 messengers in St. Louis and up to 11,000 total attendees based on those statistics while maintaining it was “just an educated estimate.” Another indicator of the added number attending: preschool registration for the annual meeting reached capacity before its May 6 deadline, passing the 2015 total by 30 percent.
Roger “Sing” Oldham, SBC Executive Committee vice president for convention communications and relations, told BP the increases were indicative of a growing number of younger people and families attending the annual meeting, which “bodes well for the future of cooperation as Baptists of all ages work together.”
The SBC’s annual survey of the convention meeting showed a ten-year high among messengers younger than 40 at the 2014 Baltimore meeting, with nearly a quarter of attendees falling in that group. Ten-year highs were also reached in 2014 for attendees under 45 and 35.
The annual meeting, with the theme “Awaken America: Reach the World – Agree, Unite, Pray”, will commence Tuesday morning, June 14 at the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis. Crossover, Southern Baptists’ annual outreach to the host city, begins June 11 with 3,500 volunteers expected to take part. The Pastors’ Conference, with the theme “Live This!”, takes place June 12-13.
There have been three announced nominations to serve as the next SBC president: David Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church in New Orleans; Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church near Memphis; and J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC.