First off, I had two things going on. Let’s call them tests for the BGCT Annual Meeting.
1) I wanted to see how “Family Friendly” the convention was.
2) I wanted to see what it would be like to “tweet” the convention.
The short answers for the questions are: 1) Not at all, along with 2) a royal pain.
Now, for a longer explanation of my answers.
I’ve attended our BGCT Annual Conventions for six years now. This was my first year to bring my family. For the record: I, my wife of 8 years, and our 22 month old son made the trip.
I had no intention of submitting my 22 month old son to constant booth hopping, multi-hour general assemblies, and passing him around like a church offering plate. However, I did want to introduce him to some of my favorite HPU/Truett professors, and try at least part of a General Assembly with him. That was the intention at least.
We left Lake Worth very early for the convention, spending the night at Grandma’s house in Hempstead (Saturday night). We spent most of Sunday with her, and my sister’s family in Wharton, making it a mini-vacation. We were signed up for the young minister’s rooms made available by the Center for Effective Leadership. To make it clear, they were giving free rooms at the Hyatt Regency to ministers under the age of 36. Since I don’t turn 36 until December, I barely squeaked by.
With confirmation number in hand, I approached the front desk of the very swanky hotel around 7:00 that evening. It turned out my confirmation number brought up someone elses name. I commented that he may not want to room with my 22 month old, and the front desk immediately saw the problem. All I had were emails, no phone numbers at the time, so I felt kind of up a creek. About an hour later, they found an empty room that I could charge at the current rate of $200+ per night for two nights (one night, with all the taxes and charges added was $333). It was past my child’s bed time, and my wife was getting tired as well. I took the room, putting it on my church credit card…
…did I mention that my church is working in the financial red?
Back to the story – having gone through all of the mailers/online info concerning the meeting, I knew that there wasn’t any child care, nor spousal activities. So, we decided that she and my son would go back to Wharton to be with Grandma and the cousins. Grandma was truly happy! We ate breakfast at the horribly expensive restaurant, and then I got to wait on a bus that never seemed to come. Luckily for those of us waiting, the DBU bus had some room. I’m a tad bit late, but that is ok. The people at the Credentials Booth are walking miracles. I look into my bag, and I had forgotten my information to register! However, 10 minutes and a friend (fellow pastor) vouching for my identity, I was credentialed and registered! Kudos to the Credentials Committee!!!
I walk thru the college booths, seeing some old friends, and I’m given two tickets to the HPU dinner for that night. This is a huge thing for us. You have no idea how much I love HPU. It is the best Baptist College in the STATE! More ministerial grads are still in ministry after 5+ years than any other school. HPU has it’s stuff together, you need to send your kids there! This dinner was going to be my son’s introduction to Annual Meeting life.
I make my way to the first General Assembly and begin to tweet/FaceBook my way through it. You see, my Twitter is set to also post to my FaceBook account. My poor FB friends had not idea what was coming. Needless to say, I’ll never do that again. Perhaps it is due to my inability to multi-task, but I missed more trying to get digitized tidbits out there, that I felt like I missed 1/2 of the meeting. I enjoyed the worship band, but when I looked out at the frowning faces of the crowd, I had an insatiable inclination to take a picture, post it to FB entitled the “Frozen Chosen.” Well that, and it was below freezing in the hall.
My wife and child get back in time for the HPU dinner, and I get to be the proud papa showing his son off to his favorite college professors. I was in heaven…for a while.
Did you know that there are no high chairs in the Convention Center?
Hint to the new committee just put together, GET HIGH CHAIRS if you want events to be Family Friendly.
So, little Darren is being passed in between my wife and I. At first he’s bashful…until Dr. Auvenshine begins to give his presentation. I love Dr. Auvenshine. It seems that my son does too. He thought Dr. Auvenshine was initiating a dialogue… Oh, and did I mention that we were at the front middle table?
Yeah… we were. Yes, Darren doesn’t have an inside voice.
My embarrassed wife decides to take Darren for a walk in the foyer…next to the escalators…which totally fascinates my son. Apparently, he had a total melt down when mommy didn’t allow him to play on the escalators on his own. Did I mention “Total Meltdown?” Yeah…it was.
So, instead of making the second General Assembly that night, I’m taking my frazzled nerved wife, along with a tired (but trying to be hyper) son back to the hotel. She climbes into the bed, assuming the fetal position, as I undress and bathe our little bundle of joy. At 8:45pm, I crawl into bed next to my best friend in all the world…and, she tells me to scoot over…she is sore and tired.
Did I mention that our son is sleeping in a travel bed? In our room? Yes…quite an experience.
The next morning, we spend lots-o-cash on the over priced breakfast, and it is decided to drop me off at the Convention Center, while my wife takes my son back to Wharton to bless Grandma a third time in as many days. She absolutely refuses to take him to a General Assembly, lest he decides to help the President in moderation procedures. Grandma is thrilled.
I tweet the thrid and final assembly, and my FB friends are beginning to revolt. Who knew that so many people didn’t care about Denominational Conventions?
I make it to the G5 Conference, which had to be the best thing there this year. I was only able to make the first half, because of travel. The first session was tremendous. I’m still saddened at having to miss the second. However, we wanted desperately to leave before 5pm. You see, travel back to Fort Worth was going to be around 5 hours or so. We would be getting in greatly after our boy’s bed time. So, I was picked up by 4pm, and on our way home.
Obviously, this isn’t every detail of our little adventure, but you get the picture. My wife refuses to go to McAllen next year. There is just no way. However, I may pray her out of that decision. But, to all those East Texas and Dallasite members of the Committee to study the family friendliness of the meeting, you have your work cut out for you. As of this moment, in my own personal (experiential) opinion; the Annual Meeting is an absolute HORROR for young families. I will make some suggestions in an upcoming post.
P.s. A little preview to what’s coming… Most guys my age grew up with absentee fathers. We’ve no desire to be like our dads. You need to make a place for families at the convention.