N.C. ranks fifth in SBC attendance
    June 17 2011 by Brian Koonce, Baptist Press

    Attendance at the 2011 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting June 14-15 slumped below 5,000 for several reasons, registration officials said.

    Just before registration closed June 15, there were 4,814 registered messengers from the nation’s 45,000 Southern Baptist churches. Official numbers will not be released until later this month.

    In 2003, the last time Southern Baptists gathered in Phoenix, there were 7,077 registered. The count is 43 percent of the 2010 numbers in Orlando, a dip Registration Secretary Jim Wells, who was unable to attend the meeting because of illness, predicted last summer and one that other registration staff confirm.

    “First, it wasn’t an ‘election year,’ with Bryant Wright up for a second term as SBC president,” said Kevin Wilson, a registration volunteer from the Georgia Baptist Convention. “Plus, the big issues like the Great Commission Resurgence were voted on last year.”

    It’s the lowest messenger count at an annual meeting in more than six decades, when in the throes of World War II, 4,301 messengers gathered in Atlanta in 1944.

    North Carolina Baptists came in fifth with 332 messengers behind Tennessee (390), Arizona (374), Georgia (357), and Texas (347).

    The substance of the meeting led plenty who attended to argue it shouldn’t be judged on numbers. More than 1,000 pastors and their wives packed a North American Mission Board luncheon to learn about the entity’s new Send North America church planting strategy. On the final night of the convention, hundreds of messengers flooded the front of the convention hall at the end of the International Mission Board report, having signed cards pledging to lead their church to embrace an unengaged people group. The convention’s focus on ethnic diversity and unity were also significant.

    “I do believe it could prove to be the most spiritually significant convention over the last 50 years,” SBC President Bryant Wright, who was re-elected to another one-year term, told Baptist Press after the Phoenix gathering.

    Wright pointed to the sluggish economy and to the travel time from most SBC churches as possible reasons for the low attendance.

    Attendance followed a general geographic trend of higher attendance from states in the West and lower from everywhere else: Utah’s attendance more than doubled its 2010 number, while Alabama’s was 28 percent of last year’s delegation.

    The unofficial state-by-state messenger registration numbers are as follows: Alaska, 13; Alabama, 244; Arkansas, 163; Arizona, 374; California, 241; Colorado, 43; Connecticut, 1; Washington, D.C., 12; Delaware, 1; Florida, 242; Georgia, 357; Hawaii, 12; Iowa, 6; Idaho, 17; Illinois, 82; Indiana, 78; Kansas, 53; Kentucky, 233; Louisiana, 182; Massachusetts, 8; Maryland, 57; Maine, 1; Michigan, 27; Minnesota, 27; Missouri, 169; Mississippi, 201; Montana, 9; North Carolina, 332; Nebraska, 1; New Hampshire, 1; New Jersey, 11; New Mexico, 85; Nevada, 69; New York, 13; Ohio, 88; Oklahoma, 148; Oregon, 11; Pennsylvania, 22; Puerto Rico 3; South Carolina, 190; South Dakota, 1; Tennessee, 390; Texas, 347; Utah, 24; Virginia, 191; Vermont, 1; Washington, 20; Wisconsin, 3; West Virginia 22; Wyoming, 13.

    (EDITOR’S NOTE — Koonce is a staff writer for The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.)
    6/17/2011 7:57:00 AM by Brian Koonce, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

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