Open Meeting Policy
(1) The work of the church is strengthened when it is done in a spirit of openness and trust. Church members have a basic right to know about the work done and the decisions made by entities within the church. Church leaders have a basic responsibility to honor that right by conducting their business with a spirit of openness and vulnerability to public scrutiny. Therefore, open meetings shall be the norm for all such entities.
(2) It is the policy of the General Assembly; the General Assembly Mission Council and the entities and work groups related to them, that their meetings shall be open to all interested persons. A separate policy exists governing non-business gatherings. Documents being considered at such meetings shall be available to interested persons at the meeting.
(3) In certain circumstances, when the confidentiality of the subject matter is impeding the open work of the group, its meetings may be closed. These requirements apply:
a. Subjects dealt with must be limited to property negotiation, personnel, civil and criminal litigation, including cases under the Rules of Discipline, or security.
b. Closed meetings may be authorized only after serious consideration and by a majority vote of the members present. Such closure must be limited in time and scope to matters in 3(a) above.
c. In closed meetings, only voting members and other persons invited by the group to serve it are to be present.
d. The reason(s) for closing must be announced before closure and also must be recorded in the minutes.
e. The decisions reached shall be recorded in the minutes, and shall be made public as soon as possible following the end of the closed meeting.
(4) Since staff groups have neither authority nor responsibility for establishing policy; their meetings are not subject to these provisions. This does not preclude them from opening their meetings.
(5) The provisions of this policy shall apply to visitors and to representatives of both church and public media, including print, electronic and photographic journalists.
(6) All the provisions of this policy are to be applied equitably to all persons and groups.
(7) The Office of the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly is responsible for resolving questions relating to the application and interpretation of the open meeting policy.
Note: The 218th General Assembly (2008) directed the entities subject to the PC(USA) Open Meeting Policy to post the dates, times, and locations of their open meetings on the PC(USA) online events calendar within a reasonable time of making such plans.
Approved by the 209th General Assembly (1997) – Amended by 218th General Assembly (2008)
Media and Visitor Policy for Non-Business Gatherings
Representatives of the media and visitors are welcome at non-business gatherings of groups structurally related to the General Assembly Council of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Many non-business gatherings are intended to provide participants with the opportunity to openly examine personal and corporate issues of faith and life. Media representatives and visitors are asked to honor this atmosphere of openness and acceptance. If there is a business session within a non-business gathering, the open meeting policy of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) shall apply during that session.
The following policy pertains to non-business gatherings:
(1) Media representatives will register as such, including the name of the publication or media outlet for which they are acting as a media representative. Media representatives and visitors should wear name tags identifying themselves as such during all portions of the gathering.
(2) Media representatives will not be required to pay registration fees. They will be responsible for their own accommodations, meals, and transportation. Visitors will register and be required to pay appropriate fees.
(3) Media representatives are observers and may not speak or actively participate in any portion of the gathering unless invited.
(4) All plenary sessions are open.
(5) All non-plenary sessions are also open. Media representatives and visitors are asked to identify themselves as such at the beginning of non-plenary sessions. In small groups whose purpose is the sharing of personal issues of faith and life, the discussion may be closed to media representatives and visitors at the choice of the small group participants.
(6) The provisions of this policy shall apply to visitors and representatives of both church and public media, including print, electronic, and photographic journalists.
(7) All the provisions of this policy are to be applied equitably to all persons and groups.
(8) The Office of the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly is responsible for resolving questions relating to the application and interpretation of this policy.
Adopted by the General Assembly Council, 2000