Open Meeting Policy
The following policy was approved by the 209th General Assembly (1997) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and amended by the 218th General Assembly (2008).
- 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.
- 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.
- In certain circumstances, when the confidentiality of the subject matter is impeding the open work of the group, it‘s meetings may be closed. These requirements apply:
- Subjects dealt with must be limited to property negotiation, personnel, civil and criminal litigation, including cases under the Rules of Discipline, or security.
- 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.
- In closed meetings, only voting members and other persons invited by the group to serve it are to be present.
- The reason(s) for closing must be announced before closure and also must be recorded in the minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- The provisions of this policy shall apply to visitors and to representatives of both church and public media, including print, electronic and photographic journalists.
- All the provisions of this policy are to be applied equitably to all persons and groups.
- 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.
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) calendar Web page within a reasonable time of making such plans.