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MC Supporters Gather at Southern Baptist Convention

Mississippi College President Lee Royce traveled home today after joining other key administrators at a reception for MC supporters at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Drawing more than 100 alumni and other MC friends, the Tuesday evening social event capped off a blitz of meetings at Indianapolis Convention Center. The SBC represents more than 16.3 million members at more than 44,000 churches nationwide.

Royce joined Eric Pratt, MC's vice president for Christian Development, Wayne VanHorn, dean of the School of Christian Studies and the Arts, and Chad Phillips, executive director of enrollment services, to welcome visitors.

Also welcoming the MC faithful were: Ross Aven, director of alumni affairs, retired MC administrator Doc Quick, Lyndsey Hester, the associate director of admissions and Bill Townsend, incoming vice president for advancement and legal counsel to the president. A former college administrator in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, Townsend will go to work at his alma mater in Clinton early next month.

Members of the MC community enjoyed the relaxing time for fellowship amid a plentiful supply of cookies, brownies, and fruits. The convention went on despite record rains and flooding hitting many Indiana communities in recent days.

With more than 30,000 alumni nationwide, MC graduates have formed chapters in Indiana, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and other states. The meetings in Indianapolis gave some grads the chance to re-connect with MC and keep up with SBC developments. Founded in 1826, MC is the nation's second oldest Baptist college.

"It's good to see those in the MC family who have dedicated themselves to the cause of Christ through the Southern Baptist convention," said Aven, an MC graduate.

Earlier Tuesday, Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga. was elected Southern Baptist Convention president with nearly 53 percent of the 3,100 votes cast on the first ballot. He succeeded Frank Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C. In a story posted by the Baptist Press, Hunt said he will emphasize what he's advocated for 32 years as a local pastor: evangelism, discipleship and missions.

Attracting leaders from 41 conventions and fellowships, the convention also drew high-profile visitors like Tony Dungy, head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, winner of the 2007 Super Bowl. A passionate Christian and much-admired coach in the NFL, he signed copies of his latest book for convention-goers.

PHOTO: Pictured (left to right) enjoying the Tuesday evening social hosted my Mississippi College: Mrs. Kellie Kitchings, Mr. Bobby Walden, Rev. Hal Kitchings, and Mrs. Libby Walden. Rev. and Mrs. Kitchens are members of Germantown Baptist Church in Germantown, Tenn., where Rev. Kitchings serves as pastor. Mr. and Mrs. Walden are members of First Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss.