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220th General Assembly (2012)

General Information for Commissioners/Advisory Delegates

 

Please read this information about your assembly responsibilities and arrangements carefully before you make your travel and housing arrangements. Contact the G.A. Meeting Service of the Office of the General Assembly (OGA) at 888-728-7228, ext. 2417 with any questions or concerns.

Your Role and Responsibility

Please take time to become acquainted with the responsibilities of the General Assembly (Book of Order, G-3.0501), and to read the Foundations of Presbyterian Polity (chapters F-1 to F-3 of the Book of Order), which outline the principles of our representative form of government. “Presbyters are not simply to reflect the will of the people, but rather to seek together to find and represent the will of Christ.” (F-3.0204)

Assembly commissioners are free to deliberate together, seek Christ's will, and by majority vote reach decisions on the business before them. Commissioners may not be instructed on how to vote nor on what positions to support. They are not the representatives of the people that elected them, but instead they represent the  “ . . . unity of the synods, presbyteries, sessions, and congregations of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)." (G-3.0501)

Advisory delegates “are selected to attend the meeting of the General Assembly in an advisory role so that the assembly may be assured of hearing and taking cognizance of their special viewpoints.” (Standing Rule A.2.a.). Though advisory delegates do not have the privilege of voting on business in the assembly business meetings, they have other opportunities to make their views known. They participate in the debates in business sessions, and are polled prior to the votes on many issues to determine their advice.  In the assembly committees, advisory delegates have both voice and vote – just as commissioners do.

Young Adult Advisory Delegates (YAADs) and Theological Student Advisory Delegates (TSADSs) are seated with the commissioners from their presbytery in the plenary hall.  Missionary Advisory Delegates (MADs) and Ecumenical Advisory Delegates have assigned seating in the commissioner/advisory delegate area.

Where and When

Most assembly meetings will be held in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh, or in one of the nearby hotels.

The assembly convenes at 1:30 pm on Saturday, June 30, and will adjourn by noon on Saturday, July 7.  You are expected to attend all sessions. Riverside Conversations are scheduled for Saturday morning (June 30). These sessions will help commissioners and advisory delegates begin engaging the key issues before the assembly

Advisory Delegate Orientatitions

An orientation for YAADs will begin with breakfast on Friday, June 29. It is conducted by assembly assistants who serve as advisors for the YAADs throughout the assembly. YAADs should travel to Pittsburgh on Thursday, and their lodging expenses are covered from Thursday. Orientations for TSADs and MADs start with dinner (at 6:00 p.m.) on Friday, June 29; TSADs and MADs should arrive in Pittsburgh in time to attend.

The full Schedule of Events is at pcusa.org/ga220.  It includes the docket of official meetings, assembly worship, and information on numerous optional activities.

Travel, Registration an Lodging

Please complete the practical arrangements related to your assembly participation as soon as possible. The Office of the General Assembly (OGA) has made arrangements with Azumano Travel Agency and seven assembly hotels in Pittsburgh to make this easy and cost effective. Read the Expense Reimbursement Procedures and Policies carefully before you proceed with your travel plans.

Travel

Consider both cost and convenience as you plan how you will travel to Pittsburgh.  Please consider MegaBus if you live in one of the cities it serves; in Pittsburgh the Megabus stop is near the convention center and the assembly hotels. The Amtrak station is also located nearby.  See the Expense Reimbursement Policies for information on reimbursement for bus fare, train fare, or mileage and related costs for those for whom driving is most practical.

Flying is the best mode of travel for most. Watch for an email from the G.A. Meeting Service with a link for booking air travel on-line using Cliqbook and Azumano Travel. Please use the on-line method if possible - it allows you to select from available itineraries from your home airport, and there is a considerable savings in fees. 

If you cannot book your travel on-line, call Azumano at 800-283-2619; hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Pacific.  Please tell the agent that you are an advisory delegate.

Make your travel arrangements as soon as possible (by April 30) for the best fares and choice of flights. The assembly takes place over the July 4 holiday, so flights will fill quickly.

How to Register

You will receive an email from the G.A. Meeting Service with instructions and a link to on-line registration for the assembly.  This is a unique link for your registration that recognizes that you are an advisory delegate. Please be sure to use this link - do NOT use the “generic” registration link at the GA web site. Do NOT forward your email/link to anyone else to use to register.

Contact the G.A. Meeting Service at 888-728-7228, ext, 2417 if you do not receive this email or if you are not able to register on line.

Lodging

The seven assembly hotels are located within a half-mile of the convention center. Allowable room charges at these hotels are paid directly by the assembly. For a reservation, you need only complete your assembly registration, where you will indicate your travel dates, your preference among the assembly hotels, room type requirement, special needs, etc.

Please finalize your travel plans and complete your registration by April 30.

Ground Transportation

Assembly shuttles will provide transportation from the Pittsburgh airport to the assembly hotels on Thursday and Friday (June 28 and 29), and from the convention center to the airport on Saturday, July 7. More information on these arrangements will be provided later.

Meals in Pittsburgh

Some group meals are provided for commissioners and advisory delegates during the assembly, including the G.A. Breakfast on Monday, July 2. 

As you register for the assembly, please sign up to worship with one of the Pittsburgh area congregations that will welcome assembly participants on Sunday (July 1) and host them for lunch. 

For other meals when you are “on your own,” you will have a credit card  (distributed at registration on-site) with a limit of the per diem amount to cover those meals.  The per diem is set at $47/day - $12 for breakfast, $13 for lunch, and $22 for dinner. See the enclosed expense reimbursement policies for more information.  There are many restaurants and other dining outlets in and near the convention center and the assembly hotels and you will be able to use your per diem credit card for those costs.

Assembly agencies and other organizations sponsor optional events for those interested in learning more about their ministry and work. Most are scheduled over a meal break so that commissioners and advisory delegates may participate; many are ticketed meal events that involve a fee to cover the cost of the meal.  These tickets can be purchased as you complete your assembly registration (payable by personal credit card or electronic check); please review the Schedule of Events before you begin that process.

Some events - including most of the mission tours - coincide with assembly committee or business meetings; these are planned for those who are not required to attend all the assembly meetings.

Training and Orientations

Please visit pcusa.org/ga220 frequently for more information, and to view the orientation presentations prepared by the Office of the General Assembly (OGA).

Most presbyteries plan an assembly orientation session, providing an opportunity to meet with your fellow commissioners and advisory delegates, review the information you are receiving, and ask questions of those who have been through this before. Contact your presbytery office to confirm the date and time of its planned orientation.

Serving on a Committee

All commissioners and advisory delegates are assigned to one of the assembly committees by a random selection process. You will be notified of your committee assignment by late April.

The assembly committees meet Sunday through Tuesday, to consider the business referred to them and develop recommendations for assembly action.

Assembly Business and PC-biz

The assembly will act on hundreds of items of business, which it receives through the reports and recommendations of various assembly entities, and through overtures from synods and presbyteries. 

These reports and recommendations are available electronically, through PC-biz, the electronic system that is the primary way that most participants access assembly business before, during, and after the assembly.  Reports are not printed and mailed in advance. 

Visit www.pc-biz.org for more information. As the reports and recommendations to the assembly are received and formatted, they are posted there.  You should read as much of this material as possible before you arrive in Pittsburgh.

If you don’t already have a PC-biz account, you are encouraged to register for an account using the email address you used for assembly registration. For assistance in setting up an account, use the online help available in PC-biz to send a message or ask a question about the system.

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

You will need a laptop computer in Pittsburgh (see the FAQs in the Resource tab at PC-biz.org for the minimum specifications) in order to function most effectively as a commissioner. If you do not have access to one that you may take to the assembly, please first contact your presbytery to inquire about borrowing one. The OGA will arrange to rent laptops on-site for those who cannot bring one, but in the interest of good stewardship of the church’s funds, we hope most will have another source.

The assembly registration process includes a step for indicating if you will need to have a laptop provided by the assembly. And if you are unable to access PC-biz or use a laptop on-site and need all of the reports in hard copy form, please contact the G.A. Meeting Service.

Look for additional information about PC-biz by email in the coming weeks, and remember to check PC-biz regularly for updates. 

Changes and Cancellations

If at any time prior to the assembly you find that you are unable to serve as an advisory delegate, immediately contact your presbytery so that plans for an alternate can be made.

Mailings

Expect to receive many mailings from various organizations and individuals. They seek to share information or express their concerns about business before the assembly.

Prior assemblies have supported the principle of enabling groups and individuals to communicate their concerns directly, trusting the wisdom and discernment of commissioners and advisory delegates in this matter.

Questions? 

Please contact:
G.A. Meeting Service
888-728-7228, ext. 2417

 

 

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