The Rev. Tom Hay, director of operations for the Office of the General Assembly, sounded believable if not giddy when he told the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly that “the 221st GA is only 421 days away!”
Hay unveiled preliminary plans for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s biennial legislative gathering, June 14-21 in Detroit and sought approval of the docket for the Assembly and plans to hold all of the Assembly worship services in the plenary hall at the COBO Center where the Assembly will be held.
Communion will also be served at each Assembly worship service, a new practice initiated by the current moderator, the Rev. Neal Presa. The Assembly will begin with opening worship on Saturday, June 14 at 11:00 a.m..
“Opening worship will be part of the Assembly (after the call to order) but not a business session,” Hay said. “We want it to be a time of grounding ourselves as a worshiping, working, discerning body of Christ. We want worship to invoke the Spirit who informs our work.”
The first business session of the Assembly will be Saturday afternoon, following lunch after worship.
Most of the rest of the Assembly will follow a familiar format: election of the moderator on Saturday evening; Assembly Committee meetings beginning Sunday evening, June 15 and concluding on Tuesday, June 17; with plenary business sessions filling out the rest of the week.
Hay also praised the Assembly venue. “COBO Center has way more room than could ever use,” he said, noting that all official Assembly business, including committee meetings, will be held there. The COBO Center was originally designed and built to host the annual massive Detroit Auto Show.
The primary Assembly hotel, a Marriott, is “just one kilometer away,” Hay said, adding that that a “People-Mover” monorail train runs between COBO, the Marriott and other downtown sites. Both the Center and the Marriott are on the shores of the Detroit River. Hay said Assembly planners have walked around downtown Detroit at all hours and found the streets safe.
Detroit is an appropriate site for an Assembly, Hay said, “because they, like us, are creatively exploring how to be different from what we are now.” Though the city is under receivership by the State of Michigan, Hay said Detroit officials have assured the PC(USA) that “they can provide us with everything we need.”
The Committee on Local Arrangements ― led by Detroit Presbytery ― is also excited, Hay said. “They want to help project to the church and the world that the church is alive in the city.” On Sunday morning, June 15, Detroit’s Presbyterian churches will host Assembly-goers for morning worship, much as Pittsburgh’s churches did in 2012.