Two hundred years ago, St. Louis was the starting point for the Lewis & Clark Expedition, a journey of courage and faith that advanced the causes of science and discovery in a fledgling nation. That same spirit of calling and adventure will pervade the 33rd RCMA World Conference and Exposition.

RCMA 2005 is expected to draw more than 1,300 meeting professionals to St. Louis from January 25 to 28, 2005. The meeting is constructed to help religious meeting planners like you increase your knowledge and skills. As an attendee, you can expect to develop strategic partnerships with all types of vendors and to learn ways to improve your performance through the finest lineup of tutorials RCMA has offered. You also will enjoy wonderful fellowship.

One of the best parts of the RCMA experience, as so many members have discovered, is that this event makes learning enjoyable. You will be inspired by general session speakers. You will improve your meeting-planning skills at the tutorials, and you will enjoy top-notch entertainment. But the one thing that attendees really cherish about RCMA, the thing that keeps them coming back year after year, is the connections they make with other members and associate members.

You will make good friends.

Over the years, attendees have commented that the spirit and camaraderie at RCMA set it apart from other meeting-planning events. The opportunities for professional growth are available everywhere: in the hotel lobby, at wonderful luncheons, during breaks in tutorials, or on the way to evening events.

In the Midwest

The religious market has found a home in St. Louis.

The religious market ranks first in the city's convention business, accounting for nearly 500,000 total room nights for a period of time beginning in 2000 and extending to 2010, according to Steve Stickford, senior vice president of sales and services for the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission.

Top-notch facilities, affordability, and location combine to make St. Louis an attractive option, Stickford says. Families enjoy St. Louis, too.

St. Louis features “a remarkable number of family oriented things to see and do when they're not in session. St. Louis also offers more major attractions that are free of charge than any place outside Washington, D.C., making this very affordable for everyone in the travel party,” he says.

The following religious groups have met in St. Louis (some of them more than once) in the past four years.

  • Joyce Meyer Ministries
  • Church of our Lord Jesus Christ
  • Lutheran Church - MO Synod
  • Women of Faith
  • Church of God in Christ Women's International
  • Juanita Bynum Ministries
  • National Baptist Sunday School & Baptist Training Union Congress
  • Progressive National Baptist Convention
  • National Baptist Convention USA
  • Church of God in Christ
  • Southern Baptist Convention
  • Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
  • Mennonite Church, USA

With RCMA, St. Louis has an opportunity to impress religious meeting planners, an important audience.

“St. Louis is perfect for RCMA in 2005 because our product has improved so much recently with new and renovated hotels and new restaurants near the convention center; even planners who have been here before may not know of the positive changes,” Stickford says.

An Early Start

On Tuesday morning, conference attendees go behind the scenes to explore the inner operation of hotels, a convention center, an advertising firm, or a public relations company. This is your opportunity to gain hands-on experience under the tutelage of leading professionals. This RCMA exclusive event has attracted thousands of participants through the years, all of whom have expanded their knowledge in religious conference management. The experience begins at 8 a.m. and concludes by 1:30 p.m. Complimentary breakfast and luncheon are served to participants, who register in advance.

The Tuesday tour of St. Louis traces the city's fascinating history, going past the Old Cathedral Basilica (the oldest west of the Mississippi), historic Union Station, and the famous Gateway Arch, the nation's tallest monument. Attendees will stop at the (New) Cathedral Basilica, containing the largest collection of mosaics in the world. Then it's off to the St. Louis Science Center to explore the wonders of space, technology, environment, and human adventure.

Tuesday's events conclude with an RCMA tradition, the Grand Reception, which will take its thematic inspiration from the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. You'll be entertained by sights, sounds, and songs as you share in fellowship amid an array of colorful buffets featuring famous foods of the fair.

Opening Ceremonies and Expo 2005

The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission is planning something very special for RCMA's 2005 opening ceremonies. An exciting morning, featuring keynote speaker Will Miller, PhD, will energize you and fill you with anticipation for the rest of the week's events.

Then it's off to the Expo, which this year will have more than 300 booths, all staffed by knowledgeable suppliers who provide services and facilities for religious meetings. Again this year, booth space sold out almost as soon as the general mailing hit the post office — and for good reason. Expo 2005 is your opportunity to make contacts, develop relationships, and get plenty of work done in a short period of time.

Visionary Learning

At the core of RCMA's mission are the valuable educational opportunities offered at its expert-led tutorials. This year's lineup continues the RCMA tradition of offering the finest breakout sessions anywhere. RCMA's 2005 tutorials ensure that there is something for everyone, from the first-time planner to the veteran professional.

For example, learn how to establish vendor relationships in the tutorial, “Building a Winning Team: The Religious Meeting Planner and Convention Services Manager.”

If you're interested in improving your work with contracts, attend “Contracts: It's a Jungle Out There,” led by Barbara Dunn, a lawyer with Howe & Hutton, Ltd.

From site-selection tips to marketing strategies, resource management to budgeting, this year's tutorials will provide you with exactly what you need to make your meetings run smoother, cost less, and provide more for your attendees. (See the conference schedule that begins on page 29 for a complete listing of all the tutorials planned for 2005.)

Fun-Filled Evenings

RCMA's evening entertainment always is special, and this year's promises to be no exception. On Wednesday night, RCMA attendees will be treated to an extraordinary event, an evening with acclaimed entertainer Shirley Jones (see page 26).

On Thursday, wear your Sunday best and mix and mingle with industry professionals during the 33rd Annual Gala. This festive evening is always a conference highlight, featuring exquisite cuisine, the President's Award, and entertainment, which will be provided by performers Wayland Pickard and Valerie Perri.

Make RCMA part of your personal and professional journey in the coming year by being in St. Louis in 2005.

Wednesday Night Entertainment: Shirley Jones

Acclaimed entertainer and Academy Award winner Shirley Jones will provide RCMA's Wednesday night entertainment.

Jones' great talent as a singer and actress has delighted stage and screen audiences for decades. Her credits include lead roles in “Oklahoma!,” the original movie version of “The Music Man,” and “Carousel.” In the early 1970s, she played the matriarch of “The Partridge Family,” a memorable television series that enjoyed a successful four-year run.

In recent years, Jones has toured worldwide and earned multiple Emmy nominations for varied television projects. Her friendly style and remarkable talent are certain to be a hit at RCMA.

Keynote Speaker: Will Miller, PhD

Psychotherapist, minister and comedian, Will Miller, PhD, brings audiences a practical yet humorous perspective on life balance. A frequent guest on a variety of television shows, including “Larry King Live,” he has been profiled on NBC's “Dateline” and in People magazine. He served as spokesman for the National Institute of Mental Health, hosted his own talk show, (“The Other Kids,” on NBC) and was the on-air spokesman for Nick-At-Night.

Miller teaches how to thrive in a society in which our personal and professional lives increasingly encroach upon one another. By incorporating comic routines into his observations on life and stress, he helps audiences to step back and laugh at the daily challenges of life and to take away practical tips.

RCMA 2005 Sponsors

RCMA extends grateful thanks to this year's sponsors:

Adam's Mark Hotels & Resorts
America's Center
Detroit Metro CVB
Digitell Inc.
GES Exposition Services
Grand Rapids/Kent County CVB
Greater Houston CVB
Greater St. Charles (Mo.) CVB
Illinois Council of CVBs
Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts
Lexington CVB
Louisiana Office of Tourism
Mobile Area CVB
Northern Kentucky CVB
Oklahoma City CVB
Renaissance Grand & Renaissance Suites
Richmond Metropolitan CVB
San Jose CVB
Springfield Missouri CVB
St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission
Swank Audio Visuals
Tourism Toronto
Valley Forge CVB