The year 2021 will be remembered, among many other things, as the first year in our history that the General Assembly was held online. The global pandemic continues to move much of the life of the church online and, in 2022, this will once again be the case with the General Assembly.

The Assembly Council, on January 19, agreed that the Moderator be requested to convene an online General Assembly to be held during the dates: June 5–8, 2022. After discussions with the university where we had hoped to meet in person, and following prayer and discussion, the Council could not, with confidence, recommend planning to meet in person this year, much as we would have liked to.

Since this is not our first experience holding an online General Assembly, the learnings and feedback from the 2021 Assembly will inform the format of the 2022 online Assembly.

As always, commissioners will be responsible for the business of the Assembly and its decisions. There will also be worship, ecumenical and interfaith guests, young adult and student representatives and new opportunities for fellowship. The wider church will have the opportunity to follow the Assembly through live streaming.

The General Assembly Office continues to work with the General Assembly Design Team on making the Assembly as meaningful and effective as possible under these circumstances.

In 2021, very significant items of business came before the Assembly, along with a backlog of overtures, reports and recommendations from 2019 and earlier. This resulted in a great many decisions to be made in the time we spent together. We do not expect this to be the case this year. Standing committees are being asked to tailor their reports for an online Assembly by, where possible and reasonable, limiting the number of recommendations and scope of business to those things that need to be considered this year. Committees will also be asked to prepare a list of consent recommendations consisting of items they think could be decided together and possibly without debate. Commissioners will be permitted to ask that recommendations be removed from any Consent Agenda.

Commissioners are ultimately responsible for the Assembly. They will need to authorize its very existence when it starts, decide on the business to be considered, and approve any procedures that will be necessary to facilitate the online Assembly.

PC-Biz.org, the online platform that we used last year, will be used again for presenting the reports and recommendations to commissioners in real time and for voting. Every commissioner will be trained in its use and provided briefing opportunities related both to the reports and functioning of the online Assembly in order to ensure a sufficient level of confidence in this important work.

The General Assembly Office once again looks forward to working with a team of volunteers and staff to help the Assembly be a positive and memorable experience. As plans continue to develop and unfold, the Assembly website will be updated via the General Assembly 2022 web page.

—Stephen Kendall,
Principal Clerk