As the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) moves closer to the 224th General Assembly (2020) next month, the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) and agency staff are working on final details for the historic gathering.

On Thursday, COGA was briefed on training and preparation for the candidates for Moderator. Two sets of Co-Moderator candidates and one that is seeking a Co-Moderator met for staff interviews this week.

“We’ve gathered with the five candidates and spent time talking about the call in this time and place,” said Kerry Rice, Deputy Stated Clerk for the Office of the General Assembly. “We have spent time talking a lot about how this is not going to be a traditional, two-year term for whoever is elected.”

The candidates include: Elona Street-Stewart, a ruling elder and synod executive, and Gregory J. Bentley, pastor; Moon Lee, a ruling elder, and Alexandra “Sandra” Hedrick, a teaching elder and pastor; and Arthur Fullerton, a ruling elder.

The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), this week extended, through the end of the year, the domestic and international travel ban for national office staff working in Louisville. That, says Rice, could change how the newly elected Moderator/Co-Moderators perform their duties.

“We don’t know what it’s going to look like. They will be trailblazers in this new day and new way, and we’ll see how much of it holds true for the future and how much was unique to this circumstance,” said Rice. “We will be scheduling time with all of the candidates to do some technology training (for the upcoming General Assembly) as well as parliamentary training so they will see what that’s going to look like in this time.”

Rice said additional information on the candidates would soon be made available on the 224th General Assembly (2020) website.

OGA leaders also briefed everyone on Monday’s joint budget summit among COGA, the A Corporation Board, and Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB). That’s when the groups will hear the latest on the budget proposal to go before commissioners in June. Plans are to utilize the technology that will be used by commissioners and advisory delegates at the online assembly meetings.

As many as 95 people are expected to participate in the Monday meeting, which will be moderated by the Co-Moderators of the 223rd General Assembly (2018), the Reverend Cindy Kohlmann and Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri.

“Staff have been sent an invitation for meetings on Friday, where they are being briefed on the presentation going to the boards and committee,” said Rice.

The joint meeting will be held at 2:00 p.m. Monday.

 “We need to practice grace,” said the Rev. Dr. Barbara Gaddis, COGA Moderator. “We are walking a route we don’t know yet.”