INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–Heavy rains and flooding helped cause a dip in registration at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, according to registration secretary Jim Wells. This year’s unofficial messenger count was 7,277, down from 8,630 at the 2007 meeting in San Antonio.
Several major roads leading to Indianapolis were closed due to massive flash floods early in the week and severe weather across the nation caused many flights to be cancelled or delayed.
“I think it definitely had an impact,” Wells said. “I was expecting around 8,000 [messengers]. I personally know of people who were coming but turned around and went home because of the flooding.”
Wells said the fact the meeting was held in a state with a smaller Southern Baptist presence also may have played a part in the registration total. Indiana messengers were the fifth-largest delegation, accounting for 433 of the total. The state with the largest representation was Kentucky with 722, followed by Tennessee with 629, Georgia with 604 and North Carolina with 515.
A total of 6,293 pre-registered online, a growing trend that makes registration much easier and quicker. However, Wells noted that not all of those 6,293 made it to the meeting.
Wells said his team reported no problems with this year’s registration process, and he gave credit to the assistance of 65 college student volunteers from Baptist collegiate ministries in Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Indiana. “They all paid to come to Crossover and then stayed and did registration,” Wells said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”
The unofficial state-by-state messenger registration numbers are as follows: Alaska, 10; Alabama, 383; Arkansas, 226; Arizona, 24; California, 112; Colorado, 36; District of Columbia, 9; Delaware, 1; Florida, 407; Georgia, 604; Hawaii, 6; Iowa, 11; Idaho, 14; Illinois, 256; Indiana, 433; Kansas, 56; Kentucky, 722; Louisiana, 180; Massachusetts, 5; Maryland, 73; Maine, 3; Michigan, 67; Minnesota, 5; Missouri, 293; Mississippi, 428; Montana, 1; North Carolina, 515; North Dakota, 0; Nebraska, 7; New Hampshire, 1; New Jersey, 3; New Mexico, 3; Nevada, 25; New York, 45; Ohio, 241; Oklahoma, 210; Oregon, 1; Pennsylvania, 27; Puerto Rico, 3; Rhode Island, 0; South Carolina, 357; South Dakota, 8; Tennessee, 629; Texas, 416; Utah, 10; Virginia, 281; Vermont, 4; Washington, 10; Wisconsin, 6; West Virginia, 52; Wyoming, 7.
Official totals for the 2008 annual meeting will be available at the end of June, Wells said.
Brian Koonce writes for The Pathway (www.mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.