NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–If the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention comes to its hometown, it will be the largest religious convention ever held in Tennessee’s capital city, said Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell.
The Executive Committee voted Feb. 19 to make a recommendation to the Southern Baptist Convention that Nashville be adopted as the site for the 2005 annual meeting of the SBC and Greensboro, N.C. for the 2006 meeting. The recommendations will be presented at the SBC’s June 11-12 annual meeting in St. Louis.
In Nashville, Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee, and Purcell recapped the Executive Committee’s nod for the city during a news conference.
“Nashville is a superb selection to host our annual convention — a clear, straightforward choice,” Chapman said. “We anticipate a splendid convention here in 2005. We are thrilled the Executive Committee has made that decision.”
“This decision is a very important vote of confidence for the city of Nashville,” Purcell said. “And we’ve been waiting for this announcement for 148 years.”
Purcell said the Southern Baptist Convention, as well as LifeWay Christian Resources of the SBC, are a vital part of the downtown community.
“We are well aware of the economic benefits of having the Southern Baptist Convention here and what this means to the city,” he said.
Butch Spyrdion, of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau, estimated that messengers would spend between $10-$15 million during their stay in the city.
Planners estimate a total of more than 23,000 room nights could result from the meeting.
“A meeting of this size brings the entire city to the table,” said Spyrdion, who has been pursuing the SBC since 1994. “Hotels, venues, restaurants and attractions from downtown out to the Opryland area will feel the impact of this meeting.”
The convention will be held in the Gaylord Entertainment Center and the Nashville Convention Center.
“The Southern Baptist Convention was one of the first supporters of the arena,” Purcell said. “Now that we have the arena, we have the Baptists.”
Chapman, who has lived in Nashville for more than 10 years, said he was grateful to Purcell and the staff of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“After living in other parts of the country until 10 years ago, my family made Nashville our home and we love it,” Chapman said. “The people of this city and the civic and institutional leaders help to make our city the wonderful, exciting place it has become.”
The Executive Committee will also recommend the SBC annual meeting for 2006 be held in Greensboro, N.C.
“People in Southern Baptist churches will be excited about it,” said Barry Nealy, director of missions for the Piedmont Baptist Association in an interview with the Greensboro News & Record. “It will be a unique opportunity for our people to attend.”
The SBC’s last annual meeting in North Carolina was in 1916 when messengers gathered in Asheville.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: SBC MAY COME TO NASHVILLE.