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221st General Assembly (2014)

F.A.Q.

 

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cobo center in detroit


General

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1. Where will the assembly take place?

The business meetings, exhibit hall, and most other official events will take place at the
Cobo Center in downtown Detroit, MI
.

2. What is the schedule?

The 221st General Assembly will convene with worship at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 14 and adjourn by noon on Saturday, June 21.   

The proposed docket includes more information on the official assembly meetings.  Please also review the Schedule of Events (available for download by February 28) 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. 

communion table

Some of these events require tickets, which can be purchased as part of the registration process. The deadline for advance ticket sales is May 30.

Opportunities abound for spiritual nourishment at the assembly, including Opening Worship at 11:00 a.m. on June 14, and daily worship services throughout the week.

On Sunday morning, June 15, all assembly registrants are invited to worship with Detroit 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, and most of the churches are providing lunch to their assembly guests on that day. Advance sign up (offered as part of the GA registration process) is required in order to arrange for transportation and lunch.

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

The Cobo Center and the assembly hotels are accessible by wheelchair and provide other accommodations for participants and guests with disabilities. All of the assembly hotels are located within 6 blocks of the convention center, and the People Mover is accessible by wheelchair.  One of the assembly hotels is located across the street from Cobo, and 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 in the Atrium.
  • Real-time captioning of business meetings and worship services.
  • 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).

cobo center in detroit

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 gameetingservice@pcusa.org 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 five 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 Cobo, next to the Information Center in the atrium, staffed by volunteers from the Committee on Local Arrangements.

4. Will there be language interpretation?

Volunteers will provide simultaneous Spanish and Korean interpretation during the business meetings. Please indicate that you will use this service when you register.

5. 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 x2417

6. How can we “give back” to our hosts in Detroit?

Assembly attendees are invited to bring a gift to benefit a mission designated by our generous hosts in Detroit Presbytery. Take this opportunity to help someone in need. Bring donations of school supplies to the Gift Project area in the atrium at Cobo.

7. 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.

Photographers, reporters, videographers, historians, scrapbookers and many others will be capturing cherished moments at this gathering of the church. By being a part of this event, you may find your image, voice, or quotes used in reporting or promotion. The Open Meeting Policy of the PC(U.S.A.) calls on us to conduct our ministries in this spirit of openness, trust and public scrutiny. By attending and participating, you give Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation, its affiliated institutions, related entities, and ecumenical partners permission to use your image, voice, feedback, and quotes on a perpetual, worldwide, irrevocable basis in any and all media including, but not limited to, websites, print, cable and broadcast media without submission or re-submission to you for approval. You understand that third parties accessing web pages can download your image, voice, and quotes, and you release Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation, its affiliated institutions, related entities, and ecumenical partners from any liability to you, your heirs, or your assigns in connection with or arising out of such downloading by third parties. 

Using a camera, camcorder, or tape recorder is permitted during conference sessions, 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 who use children as subjects assure that the child’s identity is protected, or receive permission from the parent/guardian.


Registration

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1. 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 business sessions is normally limited to registered participants wearing an official assembly name badge.

On Saturday, June 14, visitors are encouraged to come for Opening Worship and stay for the rest of the day. Badges will not be required for those who wish to observe the afternoon and evening business sessions on that day.

Throughout the week an assembly badge is not required to participate in assembly worship services, to observe the assembly committee meetings, or to enter the assembly exhibit hall when it is open to the public.

2. How do I register?

If you are an official participant whose assembly expenses are covered by one of the GA agencies (commissioners and advisory delegates, staff, elected members and others representing one of the six GA agencies), you will receive an email from the GA Meeting Service with registration instructions and a link to on-line registration.  This is a unique link that recognizes your assembly role as you register.  Be sure to use this email and link to register on-line. Complete your registration by April 15 to confirm your plans to attend and request a hotel reservation.  

registration table with volunteersOfficial participants representing mid councils and theological institutions must register in advance, and will pay the $70 registration fee (along with fees for any tickets purchased) as they register.

Theological institution presidents, synod executives and stated clerks, and presbytery executives (or their designees) and stated clerks who are eligible for assigned seating in plenary sessions must complete their registration by April 15 to be assigned a seat and included in the Roster of Participants

Observers may register in advance (using the link available at this web site by February 28) and pay the $70 advance registration fee if they wish to reserve a room in one of the assembly hotels.  Tickets to optional events can be purchased as part of this process. 

Observers who are not requesting lodging in an assembly hotel may wait and register on-site. The on-site registration fee is $30. This fee is waived for attendees for whom it would be a financial hardship, and for children age 16 and under accompanied by a registered participant.

3. What are the registration deadlines?

  • April 15 – for commissioners, advisory delegates, agency staff, and mid council and presbytery staff who are to be assigned seating in the business sessions
  • May 9 – for other participants who are requesting assembly housing
  • May 30– for advance registration and ticket sales
  • May 30 – cancellation deadline (registration fees, less a cancellation fee of $15 or 15% of total registration/ticket fees, whichever is greater, are refundable if notice of cancellation is received by May 30).  Other than for canceled events, the G.A. Meeting Service does not refund payment for ticket orders canceled after May 30.

Do NOT delay – hotels may be filled, and functions sold out before the deadlines.

Event sponsors reserve the right to cancel events if a minimum number of tickets are not sold on or before May 16.

4. 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 business sessions on any day after Saturday, June 14, when an assembly name badge is required for admission to the business sessions.

The assembly registration process includes the option of registering others as family members.  Use this option to register someone as an observer and pay the $70 advance registration fee.  There is also the option of registering someone as a Guest as part of your registration - this allows you to purchase tickets for them to assembly events (without registering them as an observer and paying the $70 fee).

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

The on-site registration fee is waived for those for whom it would be a financial hardship, and for children age 16 and under who are accompanied by a registered attendee. 

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

You may purchase tickets without paying the $70 registration fee; you will start with the same on-line registration process, but select the “Tickets Only” Role at that step in the process.

6. 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 gameetingservice@pcusa.org or 888-728-7228, ext. 2417 with any changes to your plans after your registration is submitted.  Registration fees, less a cancellation fee of $15 or 15% of total registration/ticket fees, whichever is greater, are refundable if notice of cancellation is received by May 30.   

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 May 30.


Lodging

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1. How do I make lodging arrangements?

Rooms are blocked at six hotels located within five blocks of Cobo in downtown Detroit.  Rates range from $119 to $140 per night, plus tax (currently 15%). 

Assembly registrants, including observers, are eligible to request lodging in these hotels at the special assembly rates.  For a reservation, complete your assembly registration as soon as possible.  Please do not contact these hotels directly for reservations.

The registration process includes Travel and Lodging sections where registrants will indicate their arrival and departure dates, their preferences among the assembly hotels, and other information needed for the G.A. Meeting Service to reserve lodgings. 

You may designate a roommate when you register – make sure that he/she registers promptly, as the hotel reservation cannot be made until both registrations are completed.  For commissioners and advisory delegates, the G.A. Meeting Service will match you with another commissioners/advisory delegate if you wish to share a room but do not have a roommate.

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.


Meals and Dining

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1. What about meals and dining?

Seven 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 Cobo, restaurants in the assembly hotels, and many other restaurants and other dining outlets in downtown Detroit – at all price ranges.  Fort Street Presbyterian Church, located about 5 blocks from Cobo, will serve continental breakfast and box lunches most days during the assembly on a pay-as-you-go basis.  See the Schedule of Events for more information.

Many of the optional events scheduled during the assembly 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 May 30. 

If you have food allergies or other special dietary requests, please indicate these when you register, or contact the G.A. Meeting Service gameetingservice@pcusa.org (888-728-7228, ext. 2417).

2. 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 $50 ($12 for breakfast, $13 for lunch, and $25 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.


Ground Transportation

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1. Is airport transportation provided?

The Detroit Metro Airport is located about 20 miles (20 – 30 minute drive) from downtown. Assembly shuttles will operate from the airport to the assembly hotels on Thursday and Friday (June 12 and 13), and for returns to the airport when the assembly adjourns on Saturday, June 21.  

For those arriving and departing at other times, options include an airport shuttle service, private car services, and taxis. More detailed information on airport transportation services will be sent to all registered participants a few weeks before the assembly.

2. Is transportation provided between the convention center and hotels?

All six assembly hotels are located within about five blocks of Cobo, an easy walk for most. 

The Detroit People Mover (with trains departing about every 3 minutes, from early morning to late evening) runs on a 3-mile single track system with stations at Cobo and near each of the assembly hotels.  The People Mover is accessible to those who use wheelchairs or have other mobility limitations.  Commissioners and advisory delegates will receive passes to use for unlimited People Mover rides during the assembly.

3. What about parking downtown?

There is ample parking at Cobo; the rate is $10/day. (http://cobocenter.s3.amazonaws.com/doc/CoboParkingMap.pdf)

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

Download a map (http://detroit.bestparking.com/) for information on other downtown garages and lots.

Note that parking reimbursement is limited to $15/day for commissioners and advisory delegates who drive to Detroit.

Business

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1. 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 and committee meetings at the assembly, most official participants will use laptop computers or tablets 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 or tablet at the assembly should contact the G.A. Meeting Service.


Children and Families

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1. 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 and some of the mission tours. 

Wednesday, June 18 will be Family Day at the assembly.  There will be family friendly seating at the Ecumenical Service of Worship on Wednesday morning and at the Wednesday afternoon and evening business sessions.  Parents who plan to attend one of the many luncheons scheduled on that day may register their children – ages 4 and up - for the OGA Kids Lunch.  A kid-friendly meal and activities will be provided from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; the cost is $7 per child.  Advance registration is required, through the GA registration system.

Note that child-care options in or near downtown Detroit 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 Detroit 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 are usually open only weekdays. 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.

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