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Nearly 19,000 messengers and guests attend 2023 SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans

Registered messengers at the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans numbered 12,737. Photo by Robin Cornetet

NEW ORLEANS, La. (BP) – Nearly 19,000 people attended the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans (June 13-14), including more than 12,000 messengers.

The total number of registered messengers was 12,737, while guests registered for the meeting numbered 3,799. The total number of exhibitors was 2,365, making the total number of those present at the annual meeting 18,901.

These are unofficial numbers as of the close of registration at noon Wednesday (June 14).

Troy Fulkerson, director of information technology at the Kentucky Baptist Convention, gives final instructions to volunteers at the SBC annual meeting before registration opened June 11 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. More than 30 Louisiana college students from across the state volunteered to serve as ambassadors at the annual meeting to be held June 13-14. Photo by Robin Cornetet

Don Currence, SBC registration secretary, described the numbers as “solid” and theorizes a return to a more eastward location factored into the increase in attendees versus the 12,543 total attendees at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif.

“Location, location, location,” Currence said when discussing the increase in attendees. “The further we are away, the harder it is for some people. This is pretty normal.”

Another factor Currence pointed to was a change in philosophy regarding the registration process.

“We registered all guests because of security, that wasn’t what we did two or three years ago,” Currence said. “We want people to have a badge, whether they are a messenger or a guest. It’s more for security, but because of that now we are registering more guests than in times past.”

Currence clarified even children are included in the total attendee count, although those 5 and under do not receive a badge.

He said the hosting state, Louisiana, fell just short of having the most attendees for an individual state with 1,286. Texas registered the most attendees with 1,291, while Florida came in third with 1,052.

Registering people for the meeting is not the only process Currence oversees. He also leads a team of more than 50 volunteers who help count the ballots cast during votes at the meeting.

Currence explained this was the first time his team had to count five ballot votes in a row, with the president, first vice president and the three church appeals.

Volunteers stayed past 8 p.m. on Tuesday night (June 13) counting thousands of messenger ballots.

“It’s not me, it’s a team,” Currence said. “I’ve got a team behind me that I couldn’t do it without them.”

A graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Currence said he was incredibly thankful to have the annual meeting hosted by a city he loves and to once again be elected to serve as the Convention’s registration secretary.

“I was very excited about it (the annual meeting being in New Orleans),” Currence said. “They’ve been able to showcase NOBTS and what they do here and the opportunities that students have when come here to serve, be in the community and be in ministry for Jesus Christ. This is going to benefit them for years to come.

“I’m very humbled to serve in this position. I’m just being obedient to God. This is a privilege and an honor to be able to serve God and use my gifts in this special way.