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 firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or concerns.
Keeping you all in our thoughts and prayers,
GA Meeting Service Team Members