[SLIDESHOW=40516]COLUMBUS, Ohio (BP) — The Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting drew 5,406 messengers to Columbus June 16-17 from the nation’s 46,000-plus Southern Baptist churches. The unofficial total is a 2 percent rise from last year’s 5,295 messengers in Baltimore.
SBC registration secretary Jim Wells said the results were slightly below his pre-annual meeting guess, but good nonetheless, especially from Ohio.
“[SBC President] Ronnie Floyd has spent a lot of time here along with Jack Kwok [executive director of the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio] mobilizing the churches to get them to turn out, and you could tell.”
Ohio churches indeed turned out in force for the first-ever SBC annual meeting in their state; their 714 messengers dwarfed their 2014 total of 89 and represented the largest contingent of messengers. The state with the next largest number was Tennessee at 459, with Kentucky coming in just behind at 446. Guam, Oregon, Maine and Vermont sent 1 messenger each.
Official numbers will be released later in June; the numbers do not include guests or children.
Next year, with the convention headed to St. Louis, Wells said he expects the location to yield a higher attendance.
“I think we’ll definitely have more in St. Louis,” he said. “Missouri will show up big, and the state conventions around Missouri are close.”
The unofficial messenger registration numbers by states and U.S. territories are as follows: Alabama, 225; Alaska, 17; Arizona, 24; Arkansas, 177; California, 113; Colorado, 15; Connecticut, 6; Delaware, 8; Florida, 275; Georgia, 287; Guam, 1; Hawaii, 8; Idaho, 6; Illinois, 139; Indiana, 128; Iowa, 6; Kansas, 28; Kentucky, 446; Louisiana, 160; Maine, 1; Maryland, 98; Massachusetts, 9; Michigan, 105; Minnesota, 2; Mississippi, 181; Missouri, 182; Nebraska, 2; Nevada, 23; New Hampshire, 4; New Jersey, 30; New Mexico, 30; New York, 40; North Carolina, 351; Ohio, 711; Oklahoma, 114; Oregon, 1; Pennsylvania, 57; Puerto Rico 3; South Carolina, 185; South Dakota, 5; Tennessee, 459; Texas, 319; Utah, 5; Vermont, 1; Virginia, 237; Washington, 8; Washington, D.C., 10; West Virginia, 66; Wisconsin, 7; Wyoming, 14. There were 81 messengers who were approved through the credentials process but were unaffiliated with a state convention.
Wells was first elected registration secretary in 2002 and was re-elected to another term June 16. He serves as the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program missionary for strategic partnerships.