BALTIMORE (BP) -- The Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting, June 10-11, drew 5,294 messengers to Baltimore from the nation's 45,000 Southern Baptist churches. The unofficial total is a three percent bump from last year's meeting in Houston, which drew 5,103 messengers. Official numbers will be released later in June and the numbers do not include guests or children.
Messengers have not gathered in Baltimore in 74 years, when 3,776 met here in 1940.
SBC Registration Secretary Jim Wells said the results were encouraging after the attendance in Houston was "way, way down."
"I thought we'd be up a little bit because it was a (SBC) presidential election year and a new destination," Wells said. "I think people really liked being on the harbor."
As could be expected, Maryland churches turned out in force for the meeting in their backyard; their 429 messengers dwarfed their 2013 total of 66. The state with the largest delegation was Virginia at 497. Guam, which had not been represented in recent years, joined Maine in sending only one messenger.
Next year, with the convention headed to Columbus, Wells said he is reluctant to project an estimate of 2015's attendance.
The unofficial state-by-state messenger registration numbers are as follows: Alabama, 248; Alaska, 15; Arizona, 20; Arkansas, 172; California, 98; Colorado, 28; Connecticut, 8; Delaware, 23; Florida, 288; Georgia, 379; Guam, 1; Hawaii, 10; Idaho, 4; Illinois, 92; Indiana, 74; Iowa, 4; Kansas, 27; Kentucky, 251; Louisiana, 170; Maine, 1; Maryland, 429; Massachusetts, 10; Michigan, 29; Minnesota, 3; Mississippi, 198; Missouri, 143; Montana, 5; Nebraska, 2; Nevada, 26; New Hampshire, 5; New Jersey, 39; New Mexico, 31; New York, 67; North Carolina, 427; Ohio, 89; Oklahoma, 128; Oregon, 2; Pennsylvania, 106; Puerto Rico 4; South Carolina, 243; South Dakota, 4; Tennessee, 423; Texas, 320; Utah, 8; Vermont, 6; Virginia, 497; Washington, 5; Washington, D.C., 20; West Virginia, 40; Wisconsin, 6; Wyoming, 6. There were 256 messengers that were approved through the credentials process but were unaffiliated with a state convention.
Wells was first elected registration secretary in 2002 and was re-elected to another term June 11. He serves as the Missouri Baptist Convention's Cooperative Program missionary for strategic partnerships.
Brian Koonce is a staff writer for The Pathway. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress
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