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To Commissioners and Advisory Delegates to 224th General Assembly,

We are coming back to you sooner than expected with an update on plans for the 224th General Assembly.  On Tuesday afternoon the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) voted to implement the contingency plan for an online assembly, including plenaries on the dates of June 19, 26 and 27. Here is a link to the Presbyterian News Story:  https://www.pcusa.org/news/2020/4/21/224th-general-assembly-be-conducted-online-only/

Online Assembly: To be absolutely clear, we will NOT gather in person in Baltimore in June, but the assembly will convene on those dates to elect new co-moderators or moderator/vice moderator, to worship together, and to consider and act on a limited list of critical business items. These sessions will be conducted online.  Commissioners, advisory delegates and corresponding members will join the sessions from their homes or offices using their own computer, tablet or smart phone. OGA staff are working to enable access for commissioners and advisory delegates to speak, make motions and vote. These sessions will be live streamed for the many others who are interested.  Much more information will be coming.

Assembly Committees:  Another very significant change is that the business items will not be referred to assembly committees for consideration before they are taken up in plenary.  Each commissioner and advisory delegate will be assigned to one of twelve small groups that will meet electronically in advance of the assembly to share concerns, questions and expectations for the upcoming event. You can expect to receive more information about this after mid-May.

Equipment:  This will be a very different way of working and we are committed to making sure all commissioners and advisory delegates are able to participate. We will be in contact soon with more information about how to access the online meeting room and other tools to participate in the assembly. If you have been able to access PC-biz on the device(s) that you were going to bring to Baltimore, you should be OK. 

Training:  We are planning around 15 training sessions scheduled at various times between June 9 and June 17.  Commissioners and advisory delegates will be required to sign up for one of these so they will be ready to sign into and fully participate in the online assembly plenaries starting on June 19.  There will also be training materials available online.

Registration: Though we are well past the target dates, we will not be opening assembly registration quite yet.  We are finalizing a simplified registration process for those elected as commissioners or advisory delegates to confirm that they are still able and willing to participate, and to sign up for one of the training sessions. When that is ready you will receive an email with a link to use to proceed. In the meantime, if you find that you are no longer able to serve on June 19, June 26 and June 27, please contact the stated clerk of your presbytery asap. 

More information:   COGA will still meet as planned this Thursday to continue to refine the docket and other details of this very, very different assembly, and we will send more information as it is available.  OGA staff is also working to revamp the GA web site and it will continue to be a source of information and news. Your patience is appreciated during this transition.  PC-biz will continue to be the place to go for the assembly business and other official information.

While excited about being able move forward and the new possibilities, the changes do come with some sadness when we consider so many plans that will not come to fruition and so many people who will not be compensated to work in Baltimore’s service industry when we would have been there. We hold all those people affected in prayer. 

We are heartened, however, by the many ministries which members of the PC(USA) have long spearheaded and still lead in this uncertain time. We are filled with the hope that this online assembly will provide the foundation for Presbyterians to continue acting as God’s hands and feet in the world. We are holding each of you in prayer and ask for your prayers, as well.

Please contact gameetingservice@pcusa.org with questions or concerns.

 

Keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers,

GA Meeting Service Team Members

VIRTUAL GA AND MORE…
From Tricia Dykers Koenig, Associate Stated Clerk
Associate Director for Mid Council Relations, Office of the General Assembly
The 224th General Assembly (2020) Goes Virtual
Grief.
While we mourn first and foremost with those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, there’s a lot of other loss in the pandemic-afflicted world.
Because of unwillingness to risk exposing communities across the nation to the potential danger posed by gathering so many in one place as early as June—and the unlikelihood that the venue will even be available—the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly decided this week that the 224th General Assembly (2020) will be conducted electronically. The assembly will convene on Friday, June 19, to elect a moderator and vice-moderator or co-moderators, and resume to conduct other business on June 26–27, thus allowing the newly-elected to be brought up to speed with the technology in the intervening days.
Among those to be consoled when it comes to the demise of the usual format for General Assembly (GA) this year, we are sad for commissioners and advisory delegates who were looking forward to a very different experience, and certainly also for the wonderful folks in the Presbytery of Baltimore who for years have been working diligently to welcome us to their beautiful city.
The traditional committee process will not take place this time around, but those who were appointed as committee moderators and vice-moderators will continue to function as the Assembly Committee on Business Referral. COGA has identified a list of business to be considered in this pared-down assembly, based on items identified as “core and critical to our governance and ecclesiology.”
According to this plan, most business will be referred to the 225th General Assembly (2022). Among the items that are proposed to be acted on this year are the election of the Stated Clerk (J. Herbert Nelson, II, has been nominated by the search committee for a second, four-year term), confirmation of other leaders, nominations, and budgets. Special committees slated to report to this GA would be dismissed with thanks, and consideration of their reports delayed until 2022. Information, including minutes and reports requiring no action, will be received. And a couple of items of particular concern to mid councils are on the action list: the continuation of the administrative commission for the Synod of the Covenant, and a proposal for an administrative commission with the authority to consider proposals to change mid council boundaries between assemblies.
Other decisions still to be tackled by COGA include how to include some aspects of a normal GA that are non-business related (such as the exhibit hall, Bible study, and worship). Stay tuned.
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