LAWRENCEVILLE – Change is always easier the second time around and in this instance, it means online registration for the annual convention meeting in November.
When messengers arrive at North Metro First Baptist Church on Nov. 13 for the opening session of the Georgia Baptist Convention, they will have already registered online. As last year, messenger registration cards will no longer be mailed to the churches.
If a messenger fails to use the online process, he or she may need to be prepared for a wait.
“It could be a real inconvenience to arrive without credentials,” says state missionary Kevin Wilson, who oversees the process.
The individual would have to register with the Credentials Committee, who would then begin the process to verify the messenger’s church membership and how many messengers the church is entitled to have. The messenger would not be credentialed until the church responds to an email verifying the membership and that he or she is an approved messenger, Wilson explained.
That is where the snag comes in … depending on the size of the church staff to respond to emails, that step could take a few minutes or several hours. And, in a worst case scenario, it could mean a missed voting opportunity for the messenger.
“There really is no other effective way to register if the online process is not followed,” he added. “Last year’s introductory registration went very smoothly with few snags.”
A letter will be sent in mid-September to all churches from Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director J. Robert White detailing the process.
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, 2016
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, 2016. That process is detailed in Article II in the Convention’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 congregation is not a constituted church or the congregation did not make any contributions through the Convention for the Cooperative Program in the year 2016, it does not qualify to have messengers.
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 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 for its annual meeting.
Three easy steps
The online registration is now available and messengers do not need to wait until the church receives the letter.
The process is simple:
- Login to iGO (as done in the ACR process ).
- Click the option to register, then Follow the prompts and instructions to enter messenger names.
- 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. 13 and 7:30 a.m. through 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
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, visit gabaptist.org/annualmeeting.
In a nutshell, what you need to know
- Online registration is now open.
- 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 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 North Metro First Baptist Church in Lawrenceville to receive ballots and a name badge.