While many meeting industry associations found dwindling attendance at their early 2002 conferences, the Religious Conference Management Association’s 30th Anniversary Conference and Exposition proved to be a winner by breaking its all-time attendance record. The 1,378 attendees who came to the conference in Tampa Jan. 29-Feb. 1 represented a 7 percent increase over the 2001 RCMA conference in Milwaukee—which makes it the best-attended conference in RCMA’s history. The association’s membership also is at the all-time-high of 3,178 meeting planners representing hundreds of diverse faiths.

While the more-temperate climate may have had something to do with the record attendance, RCMA Executive Director DeWayne Woodring, CMP, also credits his organization’s ability to "provide religious meeting planners with the tools and knowledge they need to produce meaningful events for their 18 million meeting attendees."

Rev. Mary K. Selzer, Mission District Assemblies of God, Farmington Hills, Mich., sums up the sentiments of many of this year’s RCMA attendees when she said attending RCMA was an education in itself. "Observing the way the convention was put together by RCMA was very helpful," Selzer said. "That was very educational for me."

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, with the theme "Currents of Change," the conference presented a variety of learning experiences, dynamic speakers, an impressive array of tutorials, fun-filled evening entertainment, behind-the-scenes looks at how meetings are put together and a mock trial, entitled "You Be The Judge."

In addition to warm weather, Tampa provided an equally warm welcome. A delegation of city officials and other local dignitaries were on hand to greet each attendee personally prior to the opening general session, and a police escort accompanied the buses that brought attendees to Busch Gardens for an evening outing.

"They made us feel like they’d been waiting for us for years," Selzer said.

Charlotte, N.C. will host the 31st RCMA Conference, Jan. 28-31, 2003 and Pittsburgh will be host in 2004. It was also announced that St. Louis has been awarded the conference in 2005.

For more information contact: Religious Conference Management Association, One RCA Dome, Suite 120, Indianapolis, IN 46225; Phone (317)632-1888; Fax (317)632-7909; website: www.rcmaweb.org; email: rcma@rcmaweb.org.