The 2021 General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada will be held online June 6–9, 2021. This virtual gathering will provide an opportunity for the church to consider matters affecting the ministry and mission of our denomination.
This year’s General Assembly will not be a direct translation of a “normal” General Assembly to an online format. The schedule will take into account time zones and provide ample time in between sessions. A full day of business will require approximately 4 to 6 hours online. Since this will be a new format, extensive orientation and preparation for commissioners will be arranged to ensure that all commissioners can participate.
The online Assembly will maintain many of the elements that take place in person. Commissioners will be responsible for the business of Assembly and its decisions. There will also be worship, ecumenical and interfaith guests, young adult and student representatives, and plenty of breaks. The wider church will have the opportunity to follow the Assembly online.
The General Assembly Office is working with the General Assembly Design Team to ensure the Assembly is as meaningful and effective as possible under these new circumstances. Issues of how many hours we can reasonably meet, what business can and should be dealt with and how we can facilitate the participation of all commissioners are top of mind.
Commissioners to Assembly
Letters to presbytery calling for commissioners have been sent from the General Assembly Office. Presbyteries may name the same commissioners who were to attend the 2020 General Assembly, but this will not be assumed, so each presbytery will need to provide a slate of commissioners for the 2021 Assembly. Young Adult Representatives will be named by the same presbyteries as last year.
Since the Assembly will be online, commissioners will need to access the appropriate computer resources: a webcam, microphone and good Internet access, and participants should have sufficient computer skills. Additional assistance will be provided prior to Assembly.
The decision to meet virtually was made following consultation with presbyteries in which various scenarios were suggested, including meeting in person as soon as possible, holding an online General Assembly in 2021 and waiting until 2022. All feedback collected will help to inform the planning for the Assembly. Overall, the majority of presbyteries indicated that holding an online General Assembly in 2021 was preferred.
The General Assembly Office is excited about serving the church in this new way and looks forward to working with a team of volunteers and staff to help the Assembly be a positive and memorable experience. May God be our guide as, together, we seek the mind of Christ and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in this new way.
Additional information will be shared as it becomes available. Contact Terrie-Lee Hamilton in the General Assembly Office with any questions.