Phoenix numbers lowest
Registration down from all previous MC USA conventionsBy Tim Huber Mennonite World Review
Registration for the Mennonite Church USA convention July 1-6 in Phoenix is down from past assemblies, reflecting a regional pattern that likely means the event won’t go westward again in the near future.
MC USA director of finance and convention planning Glen Guyton said that by mid-May 4,338 people had registered to attend the Phoenix gathering. The early registration discount deadline was April 25.
By comparison, the 2007 San Jose, Calif., convention had 5,695 people signed up by May, not counting about 200 volunteers, and ended up drawing about 6,000 participants.
“I don’t think comparing it to Pittsburgh [in 2011] is accurate; it’s better to compare it to San Jose,” Guyton said. “We always have fewer participants, fewer numbers, when we go out west.”
He said the 2,739 registered youth are the biggest decline — by about a thousand — from San Jose, which drew about 2,000 or more fewer total participants than each of the previous three assemblies in Charlotte, N.C., in 2005, Atlanta, Ga., in 2003 and Nashville, Tenn., in 2001.
There are 1,282 adults registered for Phoenix, compared to 1,641 at this point for San Jose.
“Pittsburgh was very well-attended, and it’s good that we had a good year,” Guyton said. “San Jose was very problematic as far as numbers and the budget, and it put some stress on the system.”
The Phoenix location has been plagued by controversy due to Arizona laws targeting undocumented immigrants. Iglesia Menonita Hispana (Hispanic Mennonite Church) is abstaining from attending and requested the convention site be rethought. Some churches and individuals have chosen not to attend in solidarity with those who feel unsafe traveling in the state.
After the legislation passed in 2010, Guyton and former convention coordinator Rachel Swartzendruber Miller were able to renegotiate some contracts, avoiding financial penalties for lower attendance.
Comment on the article Phoenix numbers lowest
Please keep comments civil. MWR editors reserve the right to remove any comment. When posting a comment, you agree to the MWR Comments Policy. Name and comment will be posted; commenters are strongly encouraged to give their full name. Email address is for follow-up only and will not be made public.