GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP)–Eighty college students from Baptist collegiate ministries in five states lightened the load this year for registration of messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C.
Manipulating keyboards at the registration booths in the Greensboro Coliseum as they clicked through Internet-based software, student volunteers from North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama assisted SBC Registration Secretary Jim Wells in registering 11,639 messengers.
The students took turns working four-hour shifts Sunday through Wednesday, slept in churches, and participated in convention activities in their spare time.
“They were just a tremendous asset and they just really helped to expedite the registration process along with the host of other volunteers from the Greensboro area,” said Wells.
Philip Rush, a 22-year-old sophomore at Anderson University in Anderson, S.C., said he wanted to attend the annual meeting, but could not afford to go on his own means.
Rush, the son of Georgia pastor Dale Rush and the grandson of Warren Rush, retired pastor of Parkway Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Fla., intends to be a youth minister. When his BCM leader told him about the volunteer opportunity to attend convention, Rush said he thought it was the perfect avenue to learn more about current streams of thought within the denomination.
“It’s just really encouraging to be able to hear about their hearts and their faith,” Rush said about leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention. “I can go back to people who keep saying they don’t care…. I can say, ‘I’ve been there; I’ve seen they do care. They are concerned.’”
The convention experience was a good one for Heather Anderson, a 20-year-old junior at the University of South Carolina and Shannon Rawlins, a 19-year-old sophomore from the University of North Carolina. Rawlins said she met the pastor with whom she will be working during a Cincinnati mission trip and also connected with her former youth pastor.
“We’ve just really had an opportunity to meet a lot of different people from around the country and it’s really nice to be involved with the convention in this way,” Anderson added. “It’s really a good experience for college students to see how it works.”
Ken Owens, director of collegiate ministry for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, called the students’ chance to volunteer an “educational opportunity” to see how Southern Baptists come together to serve “the Kingdom of God.”
“Their role this week is not glamorous,” Owens said. “It’s not on the stage, but it’s very much in the model of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. That’s a servant role and God will bless that and honor that.”
Observing students interact with the messengers they register, Owens said it was a positive experience all around.
“We want people to be able to see college students and to see how Baptists are making a difference with ministry to college students through our Baptist Collegiate Ministry programs,” Owens added.