By Brian Koonce
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Interest in the Great Commission Resurgence caused an attendance resurgence at the Southern Baptist Convention June 23-24 annual meeting in Louisville, Ky., according to registration secretary Jim Wells. This year’s unofficial messenger count was 8,790, more than 1,500 over last year’s tally in Indianapolis.
“It was way above my expectations,” Wells said.
Location played a large role as well. Kentucky had the largest state representation with 1,597 messengers, more than twice its 2008 delegation and almost twice as many as the next largest state, Tennessee.
“It was also a younger convention,” Wells said. “I saw a lot of younger pastors and families.”
Wells said the large Kentucky numbers and the younger crowd could be attributed to the annual meeting’s close proximity to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, located in Louisville.
The registration process “went very smoothly,” Wells said, praising the participation of 60 collegiate volunteers from Baptist Collegiate Ministries in Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina and Indiana.
As for next year in Orlando, Wells said he thinks he will see another boost in attendance.
“It’ll be way up,” he said. “I’m looking for a significantly larger group because it is such a family friendly destination.”
The unofficial state-by-state messenger registration numbers are as follows: Alaska, 8; Alabama, 526; Arkansas, 239; Arizona, 21; California, 122; Colorado, 25; Connecticut, 3; Washington, D.C., 13; Delaware, 4; Florida, 393; Georgia, 730; Hawaii, 20; Iowa, 13; Idaho, 4; Illinois, 287; Indiana, 347; Kansas, 53; Kentucky, 1,597; Louisiana, 210; Massachusetts, 2; Maryland, 86; Maine, 1; Michigan, 62; Minnesota, 7; Missouri, 354; Mississippi, 422; Montana, 2; North Carolina, 537; Nevada, 5; New Hampshire, 1; New Jersey, 1; New Mexico, 23; Nevada, 25; New York, 35; Ohio, 249; Oklahoma, 204; Oregon, 5; Pennsylvania, 14; Puerto Rico 2; South Carolina, 414; South Dakota, 6; Tennessee, 805; Texas, 389; Utah, 4; Virginia, 313; Vermont, 5; Washington, 12; Wisconsin, 4; West Virginia 66, Wyoming, 9; unassigned for various reasons, 78.
Official totals for the 2009 annual meeting will be available at the end of June, Wells said.
Brian Koonce is a staff writer for The Pathway (www.mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.