Virtual participation at 221st General Assembly allows more Presbyterians to follow the action

June 17, 2014

Self-proclaimed "GA junkies" don't have to actually travel to a General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) anymore.

Social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are abuzz with videos, pictures and short anecdotes involving all that is going on at the 221st General Assembly (2014). Accounts from the National Church, synods, presbyteries and those “GA junkies” are posting play-by-play of what is occurring in committee, plenary and around Detroit as the denomination holds its biennial meeting in the Motor City.

And there's a lot of virtual participation.

Natalie Wolf tweetOn Saturday, the Assembly's opening day, there were a total of 4,206 unique views, with the peak at 1,114 when Heath Rada was elected the moderator. Sunday had a total of 843 unique viewers throughout the day, with the highest number of simultaneous views being at 4:47 p.m. with 268 viewers.

Social media outlets have also been frequented as people, both at the Assembly and watching from afar, post and track events happening.

Natalie Wolf tweet

This week the Spirit of GA Facebook page has received 550 "likes," has a total post reach of 27,244 and has received almost 14,000 post clicks. The GA Twitter handle @PresbyGA has received 460 new followers this week, has received a total of 1,173 clicks on new links and #GA221 has had a total reach of 474,126. The Vimeo channel, which includes Spirit of GA videos and recorded worship and plenary sessions, has over 1,000 views for the week and a light-hearted video report featuring leaders of the six Presbyterian agencies lip-synching their report to the commissioners to a sendup of a Les Miserables tune has received almost 4,600 views this week.

Official accounts of the PC(USA) are not the only ones sending information to the world outside of Detroit. Many commissioners and delegates are also updating blogs and other social media accounts of their own as the Assembly goes on.

Teaching Elder Commissioner Robin Ray has been using her Facebook to update her church back home in Bridgeport, West Virginia, and friends on all that is happening in her committee and at GA as a whole. When asked if many were reading the reflections and viewing her pictures, she laughed. “By the number of likes, yes,” Ray said.

Commissioner David Galy has been blogging about his experience at GA. “Largely it’s just been my reflections and blow-by-blow from my committee,” he said. Galy is the first person from his church to attend an Assembly, so his updates have served as a way for his congregation to know what it is like to be at one. He also said that he has been posting links to many of the 1001 New Worshiping Congregation videos to his blog for people at home to see.

Young Adult Advisory Delegates Natalie Wolf and Bryce McAteer both have been using Twitter to post information from the Committee on Mid Council. Not only have they been tweeting, but both created accounts especially for GA so that their home congregations can follow all that they are doing. In fact McAteer had never even used Twitter prior to this week. “I made a Twitter just for GA,” he said. “I am that dedicated!”

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