Tuesday morning at Leader Briefing, committee leaders and committee support staff for this summer’s 226th General Assembly learned ways that technology, including the expanded MyGA website, will help them manage their committee business. They also learned how trainings and resources on the GA Preparation site will acquaint them with wider assembly processes and members of their committees.

Committees will gather virtually June 25-27 prior to in-person plenaries in Salt Lake City.  

Ken Tolley, Manager of GA Business, started the morning sessions with a reading from Psalm 24, adding, “This is work to which we are indeed called … In the midst of so much technology, we do this out of love for our God.”

Before Tolley showed examples of business items committee leaders and resource staff began reviewing the night before during their first team meetings (including overture recommendations, rationales and concurrences), Vicente Guna with the Administrative Services Group gave a walkthrough of MyGA.

Vicente Guna presents at Leader Briefing, Louisville, KY, April 9, 2024. Image via Zoom..

Vicente Guna presents at Leader Briefing, Louisville, Kentucky, April 9, 2024. Image via Zoom.

“In 2024, we have moved MyGA from a container to a dashboard,” Guna said, “allowing users to do most of their work in MyGA.” In the past, leaders needed to have open a separate PC-Biz screen, where items of business show up in real time. By this summer’s assembly, items of business will be entirely trackable inside MyGA, although committee support staff will continue to input changes in PC-Biz.

Guna demonstrated some MyGA features, including where to find announcements, calendars and special links; accessing business and resources; experiencing pages in Korean and Spanish; and using real-time meeting tools. A parliamentary toolbox includes a feature that allows leaders and resource staff to see demographic information about those requesting speaking time, which will help to encourage equity and access.  

Guna thanked leaders and resource staff for their patience as the tech team continues to integrate MyGA with PC Biz. “We will also be with you in Salt Lake City,” he added, “to help you with these tools.”

Ian Hall, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation, discussed the church’s per capita system, explaining how it “makes it possible for every congregation no matter its size to participate in church governance” and “provides access to support and resources.”

The 226th General Assembly will set the next per capita rate, which currently stands at $9.80. Helping commissioners and delegates understand the financial impacts of their business items is a financial implications tracker that will also be viewable through MyGA.

Tim Cargal, Associate Director, Ministry Leadership Development in the Office of the General Assembly, gave the last morning presentations, which focused on GA Preparation — a “learning management system” site that committee leaders, support staff, commissioners and advisory delegates can click to from inside MyGA. Through the GA Preparation pages, users can access commissioner training materials, build committee communities and connect with commissioners’ resolutions and resolution submission tools.  

Tim Cargal answers a question at Leader Briefing, Louisville, KY, April 9, 2024. Image via Zoom.

Tim Cargal answers a question at Leader Briefing, Louisville, Kentucky, April 9, 2024. Image via Zoom.

After explaining that commissioners and advisory delegates who are not committee leaders will have their own training opportunities, with some provided by synods and others by General Assembly planners, Cargal moved to the interactive part of his presentation, sharing overview information about GA Preparation’s four hubs (Training, Information, Committees, Advocacy) between moments when he led audience members through the registration process for committee-specific trainings and resources.

Like Guna with MyGA, Cargal showed ways the GA Preparation pages can be accessed in Spanish and Korean, and balanced sharing insights about the back-end of website pages against overwhelming audience members with unnecessary information. He also trouble-shot login difficulties and made notes to revisit features that were not yet fully functional for everyone.

Cargal ended the presentation with an overview of how each committee will have its own links for Building Community, including a feature that allows members to record or write personal intros for each other. “We encourage you to encourage all you members to use this,” Cargal said.

Exclusively available to the committee leadership team is a Leadership Chat feature, allowing moderators, vice moderators and committee support individuals to communicate with each other during committees. An Advocacy Hub will include commissioner resolution and overture advocate information.

With so much tech talk, one Leader Briefing audience member asked what a committee should do if there is a temporary system crash or delay. Kate Trigger Duffert, Manager of GA Planning, said that would be a good time for worship, re-energizer activities or a break.

“Whatever there isn’t normally space for, you could use that space then,” she said. “Hopefully, knocking on wood and praying, there won’t be a lot of problems.”