Monday, December 20 will mark 180 days until the 225th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It’s also the deadline in which commissioner and advisory delegate names are due from presbyteries to the Office of the General Assembly.
“Once we receive these names, we are able to begin the important process of assigning participants to committees, as well as coordinating with the co-moderators to discern committee leadership roles,” said Kate Trigger Duffert, OGA’s Manager for GA Business and Per Capita. “With the staggered schedule of committee times for this General Assembly, the date is even more important. Once we have names, we can assign committees and begin working with participants on making their travel arrangements.”
Next year’s assembly gathering will be held in a hybrid format June 18-July 9. Committees will be meeting in person at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville, Kentucky, and plenary sessions will be held online.
Trigger Duffert says commissioners and advisory delegates should already have or will receive an email from the Office of the General Assembly when their names have been submitted by the presbytery.
“The first thing that they can do to prepare is to confirm with us that the email address they are using is the one they wish to have associated with all GA communications. As new information comes up, we want to make sure that we are able to be in touch with participants directly and quickly,” she said. “Commissioners and advisory delegates should also follow the ‘On the Road to GA’ newsletter for updates.”
As far as prepping for the assembly work, Trigger Duffert says OGA is in a “unique and helpful place” with assembly business due to the number of items that were referred from the last assembly.
“Normally, participants may have to wait until closer to the assembly to read important reports and overtures that will be considered. This year, we already have a number that are up in PC-Biz under the 225th General Assembly (2022) event,” she said. “Folks are able to get a head start and take more time. Hopefully this leads to even better conversations and spaces for discernment when we get to the assembly.”
The COVID-19 pandemic forced OGA planners to move to the denomination’s first online assembly last year. The shortened assembly focused on critical business only, moving the bulk of other business items to next year’s agenda.
“When it comes to overtures that are entirely new for this coming assembly, we have received about 1/3 of the number we usually receive at this point in the cycle. What that says to me is that the proposals and recommendations that were referred from the 224th are still relevant, if not more so, for the church to discuss today,” said Trigger Duffert. “With both new overtures and the items referred we can expect an assembly that wades into important issues surrounding who the church is called to be, both as Christ’s hands at work in the world and as a community that seeks to be a healthy and just ecclesial body.”
Trigger Duffert and other OGA leaders credit mid council leaders with catching the vision for how the 225th assembly will function, leading to a lot of conversation between OGA and mid councils about the best way to prepare.
“As OGA creates broader training opportunities, we are reminded that for many this will be the only type of assembly they have participated in. In this way, we have been challenged to make sure that all training materials, whether for a new process or more traditional parts of the assembly, are as clear and accessible as possible,” she said. “We are embracing a variety of formats and tools, including asynchronous video trainings and text guides, to make sure that participants arrive to their committee meetings feeling empowered and prepared to do their work.”
Trigger Duffert says the most important thing that commissioners and advisory delegates can do at this point in the process is to begin reading items of business and stay tuned in for the many updates that will be headed their way.
“The Office of the General Assembly, the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly and many volunteers are working together to make sure that participants are equipped with all the information they need as soon as possible,” she said. “The more plugged-in participants are with updates — whether that’s the newsletter or following news articles — the better prepared they will be. And hopefully, with all of us working together, participants will be able to spend some time enjoying the excitement and fun that comes with being selected to serve the PC(USA) in this important way!”