SAVANNAH — As of noon Tuesday, the second day of the Georgia Baptist Convention annual meeting, 1,064 messengers had registered in attendance.
The total is edging closer to the 1,316 who had preregistered in the denomination’s first online registration process. A normal after-lunch rush is expected in advance of the remaining sessions.
The digital registration replaces the paper process which has been in place since the Convention’s founding.
State Missionary Kevin Wilson, who oversaw the implementation of the online process, said he is confident registration will approach the 1,404 who attended last year’s meeting in suburban Atlanta. This is the first year messenger cards were not mailed to churches.
The strong registration is a positive sign for representation at this year’s Savannah meeting due to its slightly off-center geographic location, requiring a longer drive for some individuals.
The meeting is being held at Calvary Baptist Temple where Kenny Grant serves as pastor.
Churches are allotted a set number of messengers based on their level of Cooperative Program gifts and total gifts from Jan. 1 through December 31, 2015.
Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director J. Robert 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.”
David and Ann Pace were among those registering early this morning. The couple and their three children drove from Donalsonville to attend the sessions. David began his ministry as pastor of Lake Seminole Baptist Church in May.
The morning session opened with special music by Voices of Truth, a vocal ensemble from Brewton Parker College in Mount Vernon. Among the morning’s business items was the adoption of the proposed 2017 budget totaling $41-million, an increase of $400,000 from the previous year.
Brad Waters, pastor of First Baptist Church of Hazlehurst, brought the Preachers Committee Report for next year’s meeting. Those sessions will be held at North Metro First Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, an Atlanta suburb.
Bringing the 2017 doctrinal sermon will be Anthony George, senior associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta. Alternate will be Grady Caldwell, pastor of New Mercy Baptist Church in Griffin.
The missionary sermon will be brought by Robby Foster, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Valdosta. Alternate will be Sam Davis, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church of Dacula.
The 2 p.m. afternoon session will feature the closing message being delivered by H. B. Charles, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church of Jacksonville, FL, at 4:35 p.m. The closing challenge will be issued by Georgia Tech Chaplain Derrick Moore at 5:10 p.m.
The session will end at 5:30 p.m. with the benediction by Foster.