NASHVILLE (BP) — A total of 5,407 messengers attended the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, topping the 2014 annual meeting messenger count of 5,298, registration secretary Jim Wells has announced.
Messengers were sent from 2,349 churches in 47 states, the District of Columbus and Puerto Rico. Churches in Montana, North Dakota and Rhode Island sent no messengers.
Including guests, total attendance at the annual meeting and its related events is estimated at between 8,000 and 9,000.
Most messengers, 3,499, were male, and 2,750 of them were ordained. Only 358 messengers, 6.6 percent of those registered, completed the registration survey. Of those, 146 were senior pastors and 38 were the wives of senior pastors, according to surveys submitted.
By age, 23 of those who submitted surveys were 18–29, compared to 50 between 30–39, 123 between 40-59, and 122 ages 60 and above.
In Columbus, messengers approved changes to Articles 3 and 14, and SBC Bylaw 8 regarding messenger qualifications. Each cooperating church that contributes to convention causes during the preceding fiscal year will automatically qualify for two messengers. The convention will recognize 10 additional messengers from a cooperating church under one of the following options:
— One additional messenger for each full percent of undesignated receipts the church contributed during the previous fiscal year through the Cooperative Program, and/or through the convention’s Executive Committee for convention causes, and/or to any convention entity; or
— One additional messenger for each $6,000 the church contributes in the preceding year through the Cooperative Program, designated gifts through the Executive Committee for convention causes, or to any SBC entity.
Before the change, Article 3 stated that churches in friendly cooperation with the convention were entitled to one messenger and could send one additional messenger for every 250 members or for each $250 per year “paid to the work of the Convention.” The $250 amount dates back to 1888.