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220th General Assembly (2012)

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Where will the assembly take place?

The business meetings, exhibit hall, and most other official events will take place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center (DLCC) in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

What is the schedule?

The 220th General Assembly will convene with worship at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 30 and adjourn by noon on Saturday, July 7.

The proposed docket includes more information on the official assembly meetings.  Please also review the Schedule of Events for the complete list of assembly activities, which includes many other optional events and meals sponsored by various entities and organizations.  These can be good ways to learn about church programs, meet other attendees with similar interests, and hear outstanding speakers.  

Some of these events require tickets. The deadline for advance ticket sales was June 14 but on-site ticket sales will open at the David Lawrence Convention Center on June 29.

Opportunities abound for spiritual nourishment at the assembly.   The assembly opens with worship on Saturday afternoon, June 30, 1:30 p.m., where Moderator Cynthia Bolbach will be the preacher, and communion will be celebrated.  Preachers at the daily worship services are Margaret Aymer, James Kim, Tony De La Rosa, and Yena Hwang.  Jerry Pillay, president of the board of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, will preach at the Ecumenical Worship Service on Wednesday morning.

On Sunday morning, July 1, all assembly registrants are invited to worship with Pittsburgh area congregations that are making special arrangements to welcome them.  Transportation is provided to those churches that are not within walking distance of assembly hotels or easily accessible by public transportation, and most of the churches are providing lunch to their assembly guests on that day. Sign up will be available on-site in order to arrange for transportation and lunch.

Do I need to register to attend the assembly?

The assembly is an open meeting, but in the interest of safety and security, admission to plenary sessions is limited to registered participants wearing an official assembly name badge.

Advance registration and ticket sales is now closed.

On-site registration and ticket sales will open at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, June 29 at the David Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

Those planning to visit the assembly may attend assembly worship services, visit the exhibit hall, observe assembly committee meetings and purchase tickets to most optional meals and activities without being a registered participant.

An assembly badge is required to enter Hall A at the convention center observe the assembly plenary sessions. Those who did not register in advance may register on-site. The on-site registration fee is $30, which is waived for children age 12 and under who are accompanied by a registered parent/guardian, and for those who advise the registrar that it would be a financial hardship to pay the fee.

Tickets for most of the optional meals and tours will be available for sale on-site, beginning at 9:00am on Friday, June 29. It is not possible to reserve or hold additional tickets before that time.

If you are bringing a group to the assembly for a one-day visit and plan to observe the plenary/business meetings, contact the G.A. Meeting Service (gameetingservice@pcusa.org) for special procedures for group registration.

If you have already registered and need to cancel or change your registration, lodging or tickets, contact the G.A. Meeting Service at gameetingservice@pcusa.org.

 

What are the registration deadlines?

  • May 24 – to request assembly housing (closed)
  • June 14 – for ticket sales (closed)
  • June 14 – cancellation deadline (registration fees, less a $15 cancellation fee, are refundable if notice of cancellation is received by June 14).  Other than for canceled events, the G.A. Meeting Service does not refund payment for ticket orders canceled after June 14. (closed)

My spouse/partner/friend/family will be with me, do they need to register?

They are welcome as observers; they are not required to register as assembly participants, unless they plan to observe assembly plenary sessions, where an assembly name badge is required for admission.

You may register guests on-site, and pay the $30 on-site registration fee.

I only want to purchase tickets to events – do I need to register?

You may purchase tickets without paying the registration fee; On-site registration and ticket sales will open at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, June 29 at the David Lawrence Convention Center.

How do I make travel arrangements?

Pittsburgh is easily accessible by most major airlines, Amtrak, and Megabus.

Consider MegaBus if your city has that service – the stop in Pittsburgh is very near the convention center. 

Pittsburgh is on Amtrak’s Capitol Limited and Pennsylvanian routes; the Pittsburgh Amtrak station is located downtown, very close to the convention center.

The Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) is located about 18 miles from downtown (a 20-30 minute drive in good traffic). 

Commissioners and advisory delegates and others whose GA expenses are covered by the Office of the General Assembly or the General Assembly Mission Council are receiving an email from the G.A. Meeting Service with instructions and a link for booking airline reservations through Cliqbook (an on-line booking tool) and Azumano, the assembly travel agency, so that the fare is charged to the appropriate GA budget.  Commissioners and advisory delegates should review the Travel Expense Policies and Procedures before making travel plans.

Others may book their travel to Pittsburgh directly with an airline or travel agency. 

If you wish to use Azumano Travel, call 800-283-2619.  Hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Pacific.  There is a $25 service fee in addition to the ticket cost.

How do I make lodging arrangements?

The deadline to register and request a reservation in an Assembly hotel was May 24. This is now closed.

Rooms are blocked at seven hotels located within a half-mile of the convention center in downtown Pittsburgh.  Rates range from $115 to $134 per night, plus tax (currently 14%).

The assembly guarantees arrival for guests who reserve lodging in an assembly hotel through the G.A. Meeting Service, so you will not need to provide a deposit to the hotel. Allowable hotel charges are direct billed for commissioners and advisory delegates and others official participants whose expense are paid by a GA agency.  Others pay the hotel directly for their room and tax and other charges when they check-in.

What about meals and dining?

Six group meals are provided for commissioners and advisory delegates during the assembly, and some additional meals are included in the orientations for advisory delegates.

There are concession areas in the convention center, restaurants in the assembly hotels, and many other restaurants and other dining outlets in downtown Pittsburgh – at all price ranges.  First Presbyterian Church, located about 4 blocks from the convention center, will serve breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday – tickets will be available for purchase on-site.

Many of the optional events listed in the Schedule of Events include a meal – you may order tickets for these with your assembly registration. Order tickets as soon as possible, as some events sell out.  The deadline for advance ticket sales is June 14. 

What is the meal per diem?

The meal per diem for commissioners and advisory delegates (for meals other than the group meals provided during the week) is $47 ($12 for breakfast, $13 for lunch, and $22 for dinner).  Most G.A. agencies follow this amount for their staff, members, etc., but those representing one of those agencies at the assembly should consult their agency about allowable expenses.

Is airport transportation provided?

The Pittsburgh International Airport is located about 18 miles (20 – 30 minute drive in good traffic) from downtown Pittsburgh. Assembly shuttles will operate from the airport to the assembly hotels on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (June 28, 29, and 30), and for returns to the airport when the assembly adjourns on Saturday, July 7.

For those arriving and departing at other times, options include an express public bus route that serves the airport and downtown (with stops near most assembly hotels), Super Shuttle, and taxis. More detailed information on airport transportation services will be sent to registered participants a few weeks before the assembly.

Is transportation provided between the convention center and hotels?

The assembly hotels are located within a half-mile of the convention center, an easy walk for most.  There will be continual shuttle service between the convention center and the 5 assembly hotels that are not adjacent to the convention center.

What about parking downtown?

See the assembly hotel information for parking rates at assembly hotels and the DLCC.

Download a map(PDF) of garages and lots within 15 minutes of the convention center, and the ParkPGH app which shows availability of spaces in a number of downtown parking facilities in real time. 

Note that parking reimbursement is limited to $20/day for commissioners and advisory delegates to drive to Pittsburgh.

I have a disability or other special circumstances related to my participation in the assembly – what do I do?

The David L. Lawrence Convention Center and the assembly hotels are accessible by wheelchair.   All of the assembly hotels are located within a half mile of the convention center, and transportation will be provided between the convention center and those that are not adjacent to the center. The G.A Meeting Service makes every effort to take special needs into account in making hotel assignments. 

The following services are provided at the assembly:

  • Headsets for amplification during business meetings and opening worship (these may be checked out from the Special Assistance Counter on the 2nd floor concourse)
  • Real-time captioning of business meetings
  • Sign language interpretation during opening worship (and at daily worship and business meetings if this service is requested).
  • Braille copies of worship services (available at those services)

If you have a need for these or other services, or have a health condition relevant to your assembly accommodation and/or participation, please indicate this when you register, and contact the G.A. Meeting Service at 888-728-7228, ext. 2417 so that we may arrange assistance.

Note that the physical demands of navigating the assembly may be more difficult than you expect. Even the walking required in a large convention center may be challenging.  If you have difficulty walking three to six blocks comfortably, please alert the G.A Meeting Service so we can plan with you. Contact the G.A. Meeting Service for information on renting a scooter or wheelchair if you will need one to participate fully.  The Office of the General Assembly covers this cost for commissioners and advisory delegates.

During the assembly, a Special Assistance counter will be located in the convention center, next to the Information Center on the 2nd floor concourse, staffed by volunteers from the Committee on Local Arrangements.

Will there be language interpretation?

Volunteers will provide simultaneous Spanish and Korean interpretation during the business meetings.

How can I read the reports and recommendations that the assembly will consider?

The reports and recommendations of assembly entities, overtures from synods and presbyteries, and various resources are available through PC-biz, the electronic system that all interested persons can use to access assembly business before, during, and after the assembly.  Material will be added throughout the spring as it is received and edited.

During business sessions at the assembly, most official participants will use laptop computers to access an Intranet and read and track the business and the assembly’s actions on it in real time.

Commissioners and advisory delegates who are unable to access PC-biz to read reports in advance or use a laptop at the assembly should contact the G.A. Meeting Service.

Are there arrangements for children at the assembly?

The activities of the General Assembly are open to all ages, but an assembly is primarily a business meeting with very long and busy days.  Children may enjoy the exhibit hall, a few of the mission tours, and a few other parts of the assembly, but few particularly family-oriented activities are planned and child-care options in or near downtown Pittsburgh are very limited.

Parents are encouraged to carefully consider whether to bring their children to the assembly.  Consider arrangements with family or your usual child-care providers. 

The G.A. Meeting Service has information on a few Pittsburgh child-care facilities and programs that may be able to accommodate children of assembly attendees.  Note that most are currently operating at full capacity, and that they are open only Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of that week.  Parents are responsible for determining the suitability of these programs for their children, for arranging any necessary transportation, and for paying the provider directly for the services.

How do I change or cancel my registration, housing request, or ticket order?

Changes and cancellations to registration, hotel reservations or ticket purchases cannot be made on-line. Contact the G.A. Meeting Service or 888-728-7228, ext. 2417 with any changes to your plans after your registration is submitted.  Registration fees, less a $15 cancellation fee, are refundable if notice of cancellation is received by June 14.    

Registration fees paid by a presbytery, synod or theological institution can be applied to someone else from the organization.  Contact the G.A. Meeting Service to work out these arrangements. 

Other than for canceled events, the G.A. Meeting Service does not refund payment for ticket orders canceled after June 14.

Who can I contact if I have other questions or need help registering?

The staff of the Office of the General Assembly is ready to assist and to answer your questions:

  • G.A. Meeting Service email - gameetingservice@pcusa.org   
  • G.A. Meeting Service toll-free number - 888-728-7228, ext. 2417

How can we “give back” to our hosts in Pittsburgh?

Assembly attendees are invited to bring a gift to benefit a mission designated by our generous hosts. Take this opportunity to help someone in need. Bring donations of new socks, underwear, white towels and white wash clothes to the Gift Project area in the convention center. This project is coordinated by The Presbyterian Women.

Notice, Photography

The General Assembly represents the bond of union, community and mission among Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations and governing bodies.  As such, individual Presbyterians and many others are interested in the work and activities of the General Assembly.

As a participant or observer at the 220th General Assembly (2012), your image, name, and voice, as well as any presentation, speech, or written document submitted by you to the General Assembly or any of its committees, may be used, reproduced, distributed, and/or modified by the General Assembly and its related entities at any time in a variety of media for a variety of purposes including, but not limited to print, video, photographic, CD-ROM, television and radio broadcasts, and sound recordings, all of which may be available on the Internet.

Using a camera, camcorder, or tape recorder is permitted during assembly business and committee meetings, provided that participants in the meeting are treated with courtesy and respect, the photographer does not obstruct the view of other participants, and camera flashes or other lights do not interfere with participants or proceedings.

During worship or other times of prayer, all participants and members of the press should be respectful of the sacred nature of the event.  Photographs made with the use of existing lighting are permitted in these services if taken unobtrusively and without disrupting either the service itself or individual worshipers.  Flash photography is not permitted.  

We ask that those taking photographs or other images using children as subjects assure that the child’s identity is protected, or receive permission from the parent/guardian.

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