COGA approves a hybrid assembly to include both online and in-person gatherings
Rick Jones | Office of the General Assembly – December 4, 2020
The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly (COGA) has approved a plan to change the 225th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 2022. The new plan is to hold an assembly that will include both in-person and online meetings as well as a change in location of the gathering
Initially planned to be held in Columbus, Ohio, COGA has approved moving the in-person portion of the assembly to Louisville, Kentucky, site of the PC(USA) national offices. The assembly’s 13 committees would hold in-person meetings over a two-week period, with all plenaries being held online with the exception of an initial quorum gathering.
COGA member Wilson Kennedy, who has been leading a subgroup looking into plans for the 225th G.A., said he is both excited and thrilled by the full committee’s decision to explore and respond to new ways of coming together.
“We have been given the gift of creativity, nimbleness, boldness, and faith so that we might do the work of the Church in a new way that welcomes everyone at the table, that invites the breadth of our diversity to equitably share in faithful decision-making, and to do our work with glad and generous hearts which will propel us all into deeper discipleship to Jesus Christ,” he said. “COGA has taken the first step. The hard work of transformative change begins now and is committed to include a wide and diverse array of voices to ensure that our decision-making will reflect the unity in our diversity.”
Kennedy adds that the assembly will feel different.
“We will be grieving those things that will go away, but we trust that the God we know in Jesus Christ gathers us together by the Spirit to do faithful work, wherever we are.”
Part of the in-person work will be to wrap up the work of the 224th General Assembly.
“Quorum will be established by the presence of the first three committees,” said Julia Henderson, leader for G.A. Planning and Business. “The committees will be able to ratify the 224th General Assembly and approve changes to the standing rules that will permit online meetings.”
OGA leaders say the move to a Louisville-based gathering will save the church more than $300,000 versus moving ahead with initial plans for Columbus.
“We have said since the COVID-19 pandemic began, that technology will be key to how we move ahead as a church in the years to come,” said the Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA). “This opens a number of opportunities for us as a denomination and provides those whose voices have not been heard a place where they can have an influence and impact in the future direction of the church.”
COGA also voted to “commit to honor and include historically marginalized Presbyterians and ensure they have access and are included fully in all aspects of General Assembly planning and participation.” COGA heard concerns related to BIPoC commissioners and Young Adult Advisory Delegates specifically and expressed a desire to make the assembly more equitable.”
Dates for the 225th General Assembly are still to be determined.