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One to One 52


one to one: Lessons about life, ministry, and grandkids

by Keith Burden, Executive Secretary, National Association of Free Will Baptists


54,000 Reasons

Free Will Baptists have met at an annual convention for more than 75 years. We conduct the denomination’s business, worship corporately, and fellowship with one another. For many, it’s one of the highlights of the year.

Ten years ago, the convention was upside down financially. Over the life of the Free Will Baptist convention, expenses had exceeded income by more than $200,000. Since then, the deficit has been erased and a modest amount of surplus funds have accumulated. God has been faithful, and so have Free Will Baptists.

However, during that 10-year time span a nagging problem has developed. Three of the last five years, the convention has faced attrition fees—penalties paid to hotels for failure to fill contracted rooms.

Our convention paid $54,000 in attrition fees to two hotels in Tampa, Florida, this past July.

Hotel contracts are usually signed 7-10 years in advance. The number of rooms reserved (blocked) are based on previous years usage (pickup). As you can imagine, anticipating convention attendance or projecting how many rooms attendees will use this far in advance is not an exact science. Convincing hotels to reduce the room block once a contract has been signed is becoming increasingly difficult.

In view of these challenges, we have had no choice but to reduce the room blocks for future conventions. Additional options are being explored. Housing policies are being re-evaluated and may be adjusted. Line item expenses in the convention budget will be scrutinized. At this point, everything is on the table.

Obviously, some of these cost-saving steps could potentially impact the convention in unfavorable ways. We hope this is not necessary. However, the convention simply cannot afford to continue paying penalties for empty hotel rooms.

Honest efforts are being made to manage the size of room blocks and cost of hotel rooms because we take our stewardship responsibility seriously. If you plan to attend the 2014 convention in Fort Worth, Texas, it will be very helpful if you stay in one of the convention hotels. If you are wondering why you should do that, I can give you 54,000 good reasons!


About the Column

One to One is a regular feature of ONE Magazine. Written by Keith Burden, executive secretary of the National Association of Free Will Baptists, the column explores life, ministry...and the joys of grandchildren.


©2012 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists