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First-time messengers attend Messenger Orientation

Jason Wing (right), pastor of University Baptist Church in Beavercreek, Ohio, and his wife Rachel were two of 12 messengers from the church to the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting in Nashville. It was the first time to attend an SBC meeting for each of them. Photo by Abbey Sprinkle

NASHVILLE (BP) – When asked during Monday’s (June 14) SBC messenger orientation if this was their first time attending the SBC Annual Meeting, most messengers in the packed-out Davidson Ballroom in the Music City Center raised their hands.

Led by Amy Whitfield, SBC Executive Committee associate vice president for communications, messenger orientation provides an opportunity for Southern Baptist messengers to learn about the events and procedures of the annual meeting.

Among those who raised their hands as new messengers were Jason and Rachel Wing, first-time messengers from University Baptist Church in Beavercreek, Ohio.

Jason, lead pastor of University Baptist, said the church brought 12 messengers to Nashville this year, all of whom are first-time messengers.

The Wings said they were grateful for the streamlined and organized process for messengers at the annual meeting, with Jason specifically mentioning the orientation they had just finished and the large amount of people gathered.

“We appreciate that [the SBC does] things like this, where new people like us who don’t know how everything works have an opportunity to learn and make sure when we participate and vote we do things the right way,” Wing said. “I kind of already understood the bigness of the SBC, but what has stood out to me is how much more participation there has been this year as opposed to years past.”

This year’s 17,000-plus pre-registered messengers represents the largest number in more than 25 years, and more than 14,800 messengers had officially registered on-site in Nashville as of Tuesday morning.

Jason’s wife Rachel, said having such a large meeting with fellow Baptists without any social distancing was “refreshing,” and she is looking forward to attending the Ministers’ Wives Luncheon on Tuesday for a time of mutual refreshment, as well as using her voice for matters related to the SBC.

“I’m most looking forward to voting, making my voice heard and hopefully making a decision that honors Christ,” Wing said.

Jason has been pastor at University Baptist for three years and said the church has historically been involved with the Convention at the local, state and national level more than his previous church.

Since the 2019 SBC Annual Meeting, Wing said he has had conversations with church members about some of the things that took place at the meeting. After these conversations, Wing said he gradually became more acquainted with the processes of the annual meeting.

He eventually approached his staff and proposed becoming a part of the meeting in Nashville.

“I presented to my staff ‘here are some of the things that I’m hearing are going to be discussed, proposed and voted on and said are you guys interested in being a part of this?’” Wing said.

“Honestly, I didn’t know how much of our staff really wanted to be a part of it, but almost every one of them right away said, ‘Yeah, we want to be a part.’ I’m looking forward to taking back better answers to our church members about things that happen at the annual meeting, and be able to say we were a part of it and this is how it works and this is what happened from our perspective.”

Wing said he hopes what happens at the meeting will glorify Christ and that he, his wife and his church staff are encouraged about the Gospel mission of the SBC.

“We trust that people here love the Lord, and want to see the Gospel go forward and disciples made, and if that spirit pervades and the Lord is glorified, we want to be part of that,” Wing said. “I’m looking forward to our church increasing our involvement with the SBC as long as what goes on here honors Christ.

“I hope people think of the SBC is an organization that is serious about global evangelism, serious about reaching the nations, about biblical faithfulness, the glory of God, and serious about taking sincere approach to doing all we can to not put a blemish on the name of Christ.”