Convention books $4.2M impact on Grand Rapids


The mission of Lott Carey, which has Baptist roots, is to help “churches expand the Christian witness to the ends of the earth.” Photo via

Grand Rapids is going to host a seven-day convention, which is expected to generate $4,268,561 in total business sales for the community.

Experience Grand Rapids said today that the 2019 Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention is expected to bring more than 2,000 visitors, who will book 4,507 room nights in Kent County.

Global mission

A group of African-American Baptists founded the Lott Carey movement in 1897.

They were committed to a substantial foreign-mission thrust — especially on the African continent.

The founders believed that nothing should distract the church from executing its primary objective of advancing God’s mission throughout the world.

Theological region

Grand Rapids’ robust theological community was one of the selling points that helped the city appeal to the Lott Carey organizers.

“It felt natural for me to be able to talk with representatives from Lott Carey about why Grand Rapids would make a great host city for their convention,” said Rev. Dallas Lenear, executive pastor at New Hope Baptist Church, who helped to bring Lott Carey’s convention to Grand Rapids. “Grand Rapids is renowned for theological exploration with its Christian colleges and seminaries flanking the city. The presence of numerous major Christian book publishers also makes Grand Rapids a destination city for church leaders and students seeking to load up their library shelves.”

Experience Grand Rapids President Doug Small said, “Bringing this convention to Grand Rapids took a team effort.”

“We are very thankful for our hotel and facility partners for their continued support,” Small said. “We will make certain that this group not only finds us to be a visitor-centric community, but give them the opportunity to experience our wonderful arts and culture experiences, entertainment scene and celebrated farm-to-fork dining options.”

The Lott Carey convention will be the second largest ethnic group to hold a convention in Grand Rapids, according to Experience Grand Rapids.

The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives was the largest, with 2,000 attendees and 5,289 room nights.

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