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Online registration opens for SBC annual meeting in Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Online registration for the 2005 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn., opened Feb. 21.

Churches will be able to register their messengers online at the SBC website, www.sbc.net, to avoid waiting at the counter upon arrival at the convention while a registration volunteer types in various lines of information.

Jim Wells, SBC registration secretary, said online registration has received “a great response from messengers.”

Last year, 57.2 percent of messengers to the annual meeting in Indianapolis registered online, up from 40 percent for the 2003 annual meeting in Phoenix, the inaugural year for the added service.

By registering online, the SBC website gives a church a “messenger reference number” form to be printed out and presented by each messenger at the SBC registration booth in exchange for a nametag and a set of ballots.

The appropriate church-authorized representative must complete all online registration.

The process includes entering information normally found on the traditional messenger card as follows:

— the church’s seven-digit ID number, which is found on the church’s Annual Church Profile. To ensure security, a subsequent webpage includes a list of a number of randomly selected churches, in addition to the church matching the ID number. The church simply selects its name from the list and moves to the next step.

— the name of the church moderator or clerk whose name will appear on the printed form.

— the church’s membership, gifts to Southern Baptist causes and affiliations (local and state).

— the messengers’ names and information.

Online registration ends at midnight June 18 — after which registration must be done at the registration desk beginning at 4 p.m. June 19.

Names can be added, edited and deleted up to June 18 as well. Each messenger must present the printed form that shows the messenger’s reference number — given on the website — at the registration booth in order to receive a nametag and set of ballots.

Technically, a person is not a messenger until the messenger reference number is presented at the registration booth. But, unlike the traditional method, the person is pre-registered before he or she arrives to the convention.

The traditional registration method also will be available for those churches unable to use Internet access.

“We’re looking forward to a great convention in Nashville, as we come together to focus on keeping the main thing the main thing, and that is reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Wells, director of missions for the Tri-County Baptist Association in Ozark, Mo., who was elected as SBC registration secretary in 2002.

The convention will include the kickoff of SBC President Bobby Welch’s “Everyone Can” initiative by Southern Baptist churches to witness to and baptize 1 million people during the subsequent year. A record goal of 10,000 or more volunteers has been set for the pre-SBC Crossover evangelistic outreach across the Nashville area. And, immediately following the annual meeting, LifeWay Christian Resources will host “Fast 50 … 50 Seminars for Growing Leaders” June 23-24 for pastors, church staff members, denominational leaders and lay leaders delving into such topics as evangelism, discipleship, Sunday School, church leadership, age-group specific leadership and mission leadership. Seminar leaders will include specialists from SBC entities and successful ministry practitioners. Fast 50 information can be accessed at www.lifeway.com/events.

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