When staff began planning for the 224th General Assembly (2020) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), they didn’t expect to be preparing for a scaled-down, three-day event to be held online only. Much goes into organizing conference space, hotel contracts, and community events, and things were moving like clockwork for the gathering that was scheduled for Baltimore.

Years of preparation and agreements went out the window when the COVID-19 virus put a hold on everything. Over the past three-and-a-half months, organizers and leaders in the Office of the General Assembly have completely reorganized the event, moving to an online assembly gathering and focusing on a smaller, specific agenda.

The 224th General Assembly (2020) will be held June 19, 26, and 27. The proposed agenda seeks to deal with critical business to keep the PC(USA) moving forward, while referring most business items to the 225th General Assembly (2022).

Among the items of business to be included this month:

Moderator Election
There are three sets of candidates seeking to become Co-Moderators of the 224th General Assembly (2020). The Reverend Gregory J. Bentley and Ruling Elder Elona Street-Stewart are running as a team; Ruling Elder Moon Lee and the Reverend Sandra Hedrick are running as a team; and the Reverend Marie Mainard O’Connell and Ruling Elder Arthur Fullerton, running as a team, round out the set. The election will be held on Friday evening, June 19.

Stated Clerk Election
Commissioners to the 224th General Assembly (2020) will also be voting on the Stated Clerk. In April, the Stated Clerk Nominating Committee announced it is recommending the Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, to a second, four-year term. He was first elected to the post at the 222nd General Assembly (2016) in Portland, Oregon. The election will take place on Saturday, June 27.

The pandemic has had a significant impact on church budgets in the past few months. The Office of the General Assembly, the Presbyterian Mission Agency, and the Administrative Services Group have approved four recommendations to the General Assembly. The budget predicts the impact of the virus will be felt at a financial level for at least the next two years.

One resolution authorizes the entities to amend their budgets as appropriate to deal with the financial implications of the virus and other issues that might emerge. Any amendments to the budget would be reported at the 225th General Assembly (2022).

Other budget recommendations include:

  • Revised ASG budgets of about $16.5 million for 2021 and about $17.4 million in 2022.
  • Mission budget revised downward to about $63.6 million in 2021 and $67.3 million in 2022.
  • A revised General Assembly Per Capita budget of about $12.8 million for 2021 and $12.3 million for 2022.
  • A revised designated budget for the OGA of about $580,000 in 2021 and nearly $564,000 in 2022.
  • A unified budget, representing the budgets of all three entities combined, of about $80.1 million in 2021 and about $83.4 million in 2022.
  • That the apportionment rate for 2021 and 2022 remain where it is now, at $8.95.

While a number of breakfasts, luncheons, and community-wide events had originally been scheduled, planners have made arrangements to hold some events online. The Mass Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March on Washington will be held digitally on June 20. Participants will address systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism, and more. Stated Clerk Nelson will be among the faith leaders speaking.

Presbyterians and others will be able to learn how young entrepreneurs in Baltimore are changing the landscape of youth employment on Tuesday, June 23, with the Youth Rising: Advancing Youth and Young Adult Entrepreneurs General Assembly event. Youth and young adults will share their experiences in starting a new business and answer questions online.

Other optional activities include Bible study, to be led by James and Mary Taneti on Wednesday, June 24. The couple will lead study on Lamentations 5:20–21.

Click here for more information about all events taking place in and around General Assembly.