The Woman’s Missionary Union’s annual event is relocating to Brentwood Baptist Church, moving from its traditional host city of Gatlinburg. The event — which is WMU’s annual three-day conference of fellowship, worship, breakout sessions and administrative meetings — is scheduled for March 16-18, 2023.
“As we looked for a church in Middle Tennessee to host Missions Get-Together, Brentwood Baptist Church rose to the top of our list because of its close proximity to an interstate, the variety of nearby hotels and restaurants, a café and caterer on site, breakout session space and more,” said Vickie Anderson, executive director/treasurer for Tennessee WMU.
The venue change was necessitated by a wave of circumstances that have impacted the event’s attendance figures.
Anderson said she will always have fond memories of gathering at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, where the conference was held for 30-plus years, but said she is eager to see the next chapter unfold.
“While we will definitely miss some aspects of the event and setting you can only get in Gatlinburg, we are excited to discover the new possibilities that having MGT at Brentwood Baptist will bring us,” said Anderson.
The pandemic forced the the cancelation of MGT in 2020. The following year, the conference was held virtually, with pockets of women gathering at satellite locations to watch. The event returned to an in-person format this past March and was held in Gatlinburg.
Attendance at MGT has fluctuated in recent years, and had become “unpredictable” even before the pandemic.
Since registration fees help support the cost of hosting the event, it became clear that holding the event at the Gatlinburg Convention Center (or other similar venues in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area) was no longer feasible.
Many venues in Gatlinburg require a minimum attendance figure in order to book their facility — and MGT attendance hasn’t met those numbers in recent years.
Moving the event to Brentwood was done in hopes of keeping the event affordable. Had it remained in Gatlinburg, it is likely the registration fees for attendees would have increased significantly.
“Moving MGT to a church provides more flexibility in planning and budgeting for the event, which should help us reduce or better control costs for the participants,” said Anderson.
“We want to include as many people in the event as possible,” said Anderson, “and the price escalation would be prohibitive for many.”
Another change this year will be shifting the conference to a Thursday-Saturday format instead of the traditional Friday-Sunday schedule.
This change was necessary in order for Brentwood Baptist Church to be able to hold its regular Sunday worship services and other activities. The same would have been true for most any host church, Anderson said.
Although the schedule for this year’s event is still being finalized, MGT is likely to start with a general session on Thursday night and will end by mid-afternoon on Saturday.
Anderson said she and other WMU leaders are aware that the dates for the 2023 MGT could potentially conflict with spring break. However, she said there was no other option.
She noted that Missions Get-Together has traditionally been held in mid-March or the first weekend in April to avoid a conflict with Easter weekend.
“No matter the location or setting of MGT, Tennessee WMU is still committed to providing women the opportunity to experience personal growth, engage in meaningful worship, discover missions and ministry opportunities and enjoy the fellowship of other Christian women,” said Anderson. B&R