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SBC DIGEST: Hotel reservations for Anaheim set new record; OBU prison program offers hope

Hotel reservations for Anaheim set new record

By BP Staff

NASHVILLE (BP) – The first day of hotel reservations for the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif., outpaced previous years at a record rate, according to reports provided by the SBC Executive Committee to Baptist Press. A total of 1,894 registrations were booked on opening day, Oct. 1, for a total 8,602 hotel nights.

“It’s always encouraging when the hotel registration numbers are up. It indicates the excitement Southern Baptists have to be together, to worship our Lord together and to do the work of the Convention,” said Jeff Pearson, SBC Executive Committee chief financial officer.

The previous high mark for reservations in one day occurred in 2019 in anticipation of the 2020 SBC Annual Meeting in Orlando, which was canceled due to the COVD-19 pandemic. That year, 1,613 reservations were made on opening day accounting for 6,907 hotel nights booked.

The number of users booking hotel registrations this year once again overwhelmed computer servers. But the system was quickly restored and issues were resolved, Pearson said.

While the meeting is more than eight months away, Pearson said it is a good idea to reserve a hotel room early. “While we have many hotel options to choose from, reserving earlier gives the attendee a better selection of hotels and locations that meet their specific needs,” he said.

Reservations at convention hotels must be made by May 16, 2022, to guarantee special convention rates.

The annual meeting is scheduled for June 15-20, 2022, at the Anaheim Convention Center. Messenger registration opens Feb. 1, 2022.

OBU prison program offers hope and transformation

By Kenny Day/Baptist Messenger

SHAWNEE, Okla. (BP) — Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) President Heath A. Thomas, administrators, faculty, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC) officials, Oklahoma Baptists leaders and 40 inmates from the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center recently celebrated the beginning of a program designed to transform the lives of inmates and their families while radically improving the culture within the prisons in which they reside.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt delivered an inspirational greeting to the students in the inaugural meeting of the Prison Divinity Program sponsored by Oklahoma Baptist University.

The OBU Prison Divinity Program formally celebrated the beginning of the fall semester last month with a convocation service very similar to the ones held every fall on the OBU campus in Shawnee. This service, however, was held inside the prison walls at the Lexington facility, and the students were inmates specially selected for the first-ever, four-year bachelor’s degree program to be offered inside an Oklahoma prison.

OBU launched the Prison Divinity Program in partnership with ODOC and Oklahoma Baptists. Based on similar programs implemented in prisons in Louisiana and Texas, the program is designed produce graduates who make a positive impact on other inmates within Oklahoma’s prisons and influence the cultures in those facilities.

The service featured addresses from Stitt, Thomas, OBU Dean Matthew Emerson, the program’s director Bruce Perkins and former Oklahoma state Sen. Wayne Shaw as well as a student/inmate-led time of praise and worship.

The 40 men enrolled in the 128 credit-hour program were selected from 172 applicants and 65 interviewees. They will complete courses over a four-year period, receiving the same education in their bachelor’s degree program as students who are enrolled on the OBU campus. The students are likewise learning the traditions of Bison Hill and what it means to be an OBU student, including learning the famous school chant “Ka-Rip.” The program is funded entirely through the generosity of donors, with support from Oklahoma Baptists and facilities provided by ODOC.

Read the full story here.

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