The local arrangements committee for the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) 2021 annual meeting is seeking at least 150 more volunteers to help with hospitality due to the larger-than-anticipated number of attendees at the convention.
Additionally, the Music City Center, where the convention will be held, officially lifted the mask mandate at its facilities on June 1. A designated seating area will be made available for those who wish to wear a mask.
The 14,000-plus messengers pre-registered for the convention in Nashville is the largest number of pre-registered messengers since the 1995 annual meeting in Atlanta.
Danny Franks, pastor of guest services at The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., is serving on the local arrangements committee for this year’s meeting.
The committee would like at least 150 more people to officially register to volunteer, but Franks said the need is so great, they will not turn anyone away who wants to help.
He said volunteers will mainly be serving in hospitality, helping welcome guests to the annual meeting after a difficult two-year gap between conventions.
“We’re coming out of a 15-month period that has been extremely difficult on churches,” Franks said.
“A lot of people are seeing people that they haven’t seen in a long time and maybe visiting a city that they have never been to before or haven’t been to in a long time. So the volunteer opportunity is a chance to really just roll out the red carpet for guests of the annual meeting to provide a warm smile, helpful instructions and just show genuine hospitality.”
Franks said in addition to showing general hospitality, some of the practical things volunteers help with are giving directions to guests and collecting ballots during elections.
Volunteers will be split among four shifts, with a shift each morning and afternoon on June 15 and June 16.
Those who register to volunteer will be sent a link to online training videos they will be able to watch before the meeting, so there is no need for volunteers to arrive early.
Upon registration, Franks will contact each volunteer with more information.
Franks said a blessing that volunteers can gain from the experience that they might not have thought about is the ability to connect with other ministry leaders from across the SBC.
At previous conventions, Franks said many pastors and churches from all over the country have been able to meet and make ministry connections simply by volunteering in hospitality at the meeting.
He referenced 1 Peter 4:10 and Romans 15:17 in light of the opportunity for people to serve at this year’s annual meeting.
“When we serve, we are displaying an aspect of God’s grace,” Franks said. “Just overall after coming out of such a hard year, I think that our volunteers will have an opportunity to really be the hands and feet of Jesus to people who they’re going to be encountering at the Music City Center. It’s a very practical way just to serve others and to display the kindness of Christ to others.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Timothy Cockes is a Baptist Press staff writer.)