225th General Assembly Notes
Stated Clerk for Judicial Process
Elder Steve Salyards
As we enter the fall season many of the preliminary events that precede next summer’s 225th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will be happening. These include the introduction of overtures, hearing about individuals and teams declaring to stand for the office of (co-)moderator/s, and election of the presbytery’s commissioners and young adult advisory delegate.
As many of you are aware the 224th General Assembly was a GA like no other being held completely online with no traditional commissioner committees and a greatly reduced agenda of business that focused on the urgent and the essential.
As we look forward to the next Assembly the plan is to take what was learned from the last assembly and do the work in a middle-ground with committees meeting in-person and plenary sessions being mostly online.
Following the 2020 General Assembly, the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly took a hard look at how the meetings are organized and came up with a new form that is intended to provide efficiency and cost-savings. The first move was the decision to hold the next GA in Louisville in the PC(USA) Presbyterian Center. To facilitate the meetings the Center is undergoing a $2.4 million upgrade that includes the creation of a conference center in the building as well as a production facility and other needed improvements to the building not directly related to the Assembly.
In this new meeting space, there will be four three-day sets of meetings with four committees meeting in each block. This will facilitate each of the 16 committees meeting in person to do their business. These meetings will happen between June 20 and July 2 and commissioners and advisory delegates will travel to Louisville to participate. Overture Advocates and speakers at the open hearings will still be part of the process but they will address the committees remotely.
The opening plenary session will be held on June 18 with the members of the first four committees present in Louisville and all other commissioners and advisory delegates joining virtually. One of the first items of business will be the on-site participants – enough to constitute a quorum – approving Standing Rules that include the possibility of an electronic meeting. Once that is approved all the remote commissioners and delegates would become full participants in the meeting.
After all the committees have met plenary sessions will be held July 5-9. For these, all the commissioners and advisory delegates will participate remotely with only the (co-moderator/s, clerk and support staff on-site in Louisville.
A celebration of Juneteenth is planned for Sunday, June 19. And COGA is working on methods for the GA participants to have opportunities for community building and networking.
And as with the last GA, all of us at home will be able to follow along with live streaming of the meetings during the Assembly.
I hope this gives you a flavor for the organization of the next GA. There is a GA website with more information and it is the place to find new information as it becomes available. In particular, there is a good FAQ that helps explain the aspects of this GA. If you are considering being nominated to be a commissioner or advisory delegate to this GA you might want to check out the information to better understand what the expected commitment is for this GA.