The annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention Oct. 31-Nov. 2 at Tan-Tar-A Resort on the Lake of the Ozarks didn’t set any attendance records. By the middle of the meeting, total attendance stood at less than 1,300 with only 933 registered as voting messengers.
There probably are several reasons.
Without doubt, the economy had some influence. Church and personal finances limited the turnout at a meeting – albeit set at a resort with near-perfect fall weather – that lacked significant issues or contested votes.
This blog was written prior to the final session, with its consideration of convention resolutions and the election of the second vice president and recording secretary, but President John Marshall and First Vice President Wesley Hammon had already been reelected to second year terms without opposition or stem-winding nomination speeches.
The Executive Board introduced new Executive Director John Yeats and the convention quietly installed him in the opening session. In his first address to messengers, Yeats underscored the significant role of state conventions. His election released Controller Jay Hughes from the interim executive director role he had filled in the 10 months since the sudden resignation of previous leader David Tolliver. Throughout the meeting, Hughes’ interim term in the wake of Tolliver’s personal failings was praised by leaders and messengers.
Through the first four sessions, floor microphones did little more than gather dust. One messenger raised a question and only one introduced a motion from the floor. Even the Agency Restoration Group, the most recent name of the original Legal Task Force that runs herd on lawsuits against four Missouri Baptist entities, drew no questions, suggestions or motions from messengers.
This meeting will likely be remembered primarily for preaching, worship music, an ending mission partnership with Baptists in El Salvador, the launch of partnerships with Iowa Baptists and the Missouri National Guard, and the significant assistance rendered in 2011 by Disaster Relief volunteers and churches in the wake of massive flooding and tornado damage – particularly in Joplin.
A quiet and congenial annual meeting seemed to suit messengers just fine.