Frequently Asked Questions

GENERAL

Where will the assembly take place?
The business meetings, exhibit hall, and most other official events will take place at the America’s Center in downtown St. Louis, Missouri.
What is the schedule?
The 223rd General Assembly (2018) will convene with worship at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 16, and adjourn by noon on Saturday, June 23.

The proposed docket includes more information on the official assembly meetings. Please also review the Schedule of Events 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.

Some of these events require tickets, which can be purchased as part of the registration process. The deadline for advance ticket sales is June 1.

Opportunities abound for spiritual nourishment at the assembly. The assembly opens with worship on Saturday, June 16, 11:00 a.m. Co-moderators Denise Anderson and Jan Edmiston will preach, and communion will be celebrated. Preachers at the daily worship services are Ekram Kachu, Don Meeks, and Floretta Barbee-Watkins. Najla Kassab, president of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, will preach aat the Ecumenical Worship Service on Wednesday morning, June 20.

Bible Study will be offered on two mornings, Monday, June 18 and Tuesday, June 19, on the theme of Kindom Building for the 21st Century. The Bible study leaders are Deborah Krause, academic dean and professor of New Testament at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, and Raj Nadella, assistant professor of New Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia.

On Sunday morning, June 17, all assembly registrants are invited to worship with St. Louis area congregations that are making special arrangements to welcome them. Transportation is provided from the convention center, 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.

REGISTRATION

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 16, 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.

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 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.

Official participants representing mid councils and theological institutions must register in advance, and will pay a registration fee TBD (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 register to be assigned a seat and included in the Roster of Participants.

Observers may register in advance and pay the 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. There is an on-site registration fee. This fee is waived for attendees for whom it would be a financial hardship, and for children age sixteen and under accompanied by a registered participant.

The assembly is an open meeting, but admission to plenary sessions is limited to registered participants wearing an official assembly name badge. The advance assembly registration fee is $95; this is required for those who wish to reserve a room in one of the assembly hotels.

Those who do not need assistance with housing arrangements may wait to register on-site. The on-site registration fee is $30, which will be waived for those for whom it is a financial hardship.

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 16, 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 $95 advance registration fee so they will also have an assembly badge and access to plenary sessions. There is also the option of registering someone as a guest as part of your registration—this allows you to purchase tickets for your guest(s) to assembly events (without registering them as an observer and paying the $95 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 12 and under who are accompanied by a registered attendee.

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 16, 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.

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 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.

Official participants representing mid councils and theological institutions must register in advance, and will pay a registration fee TBD (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 register to be assigned a seat and included in the Roster of Participants.

Observers may register in advance and pay the 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. There is an on-site registration fee. This fee is waived for attendees for whom it would be a financial hardship, and for children age sixteen and under accompanied by a registered participant.

The assembly is an open meeting, but admission to plenary sessions is limited to registered participants wearing an official assembly name badge. The advance assembly registration fee is $95; this is required for those who wish to reserve a room in one of the assembly hotels.

Those who do not need assistance with housing arrangements may wait to register on-site. The on-site registration fee is $30, which will be waived for those for whom it is a financial hardship.

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 16, 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 $95 advance registration fee so they will also have an assembly badge and access to plenary sessions. There is also the option of registering someone as a guest as part of your registration—this allows you to purchase tickets for your guest(s) to assembly events (without registering them as an observer and paying the $95 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 12 and under who are accompanied by a registered attendee.

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 4—for other participants who are requesting assembly housing
  • June 1—for advance registration and ticket sales
  • June 1—cancellation deadline (registration fees, less a cancellation fee of $25 or 15 percent of total registration/ticket fees, whichever is greater, are refundable if notice of cancellation is received by June 1). Other than for canceled events, the G.A. Meeting Service does not refund payment for ticket orders canceled after June 1.

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

I only want to purchase tickets to events; do I need to register?
You may purchase tickets without paying the $95 registration fee; you will start with the same on-line registration process, but select the “Tickets Only” Role at that step in the process.
How do I change or cancel my registration, housing request, or ticket order?

Please make note of your login and password information so that you can access your registration again. You may return to your account at a later time to:

  • add a guest
  • purchase additional tickets (until the deadline of June 1)
  • change your assembly hotel preference or change your arrival/departure date (up until the time your lodging is initially assigned by the Registrar)

Go to https://ogaevents.pcusa.org/register/223rd-general-assembly-2018/ to make one of these changes. If you are asked to login, use the same user name and password you used to register.  At your Profile page, click on the Status (Confirmed, Submitted, Expired) for this event. This should take you to the acknowledgement page of your registration. Click on the redRegistration in the upper left hand corner of that page, which will take you to the first page of your registration.  Use the Next button in the bottom left hand corner to advance through other pages. 

To CANCEL your reservation or individual tickets, or to make changes to your hotel reservations after the initial assignment is made, contact the G.A. Meeting Servicegameetingservice@pcusa.org or 800-728-7228, ext. 2417.

Registration fees, less a cancellation fee of $25 or 15 percent of total registration/ticket fees, whichever is greater, are refundable if notice of cancellation is received by June 1.

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 June 1.

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:

TRAVEL & LODGING

How do I make travel arrangements?
St. Louis is easily accessible by most major airlines and Amtrak.

The St. Louis Airport (STL) is located about fifteen miles (twenty-minute drive) from downtown.

Amtrak (Amtrak.com) may be convenient and cost effective for some. The St. Louis Gateway Amtrak station is in downtown St. Louis, about 1.2 miles from the convention center and most of the assembly hotels.

Commissioners and advisory delegates and others whose GA expenses are covered by the Office of the General Assembly or the Presbyterian Mission Agency will receive an email with instructions and a link for booking airline reservations through Concur (an on-line booking tool) and Balboa, the assembly travel agency, so that the fare is charged to the appropriate GA budget. Commissioners and advisory delegates should review the Registration Information and Travel Expense Policies and Procedures before making travel plans.

Others may book their travel to St. Louis directly with an airline or travel agency.

How do I make lodging arrangements?
Rooms are blocked seven hotels located in downtown St. Louis. Rates range from $129 to $169 per night, plus tax (currently 17.429 %).

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 can match you with another commissioner/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. Allowable hotel charges are direct billed for commissioners and advisory delegates and other 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.

Hotels require all guests to provide a major credit card or or a cash deposit ($200 or more) upon arrival as a deposit to cover any room charges for which the guest is responsible, and potential incidental charges such as meals and phone calls. If you use a debit card for this purpose, the hotel will put a hold on the deposit amount so it will be unavailable until after you depart.

Is airport transportation provided?
The assembly will provide shuttle service between the airport and the seven assembly hotels on the peak arrival days (Thursday, June 14 and Friday, June 15) and between the convention center and the airport on the peak departure date (Saturday, June 23).

For those arriving at other days/times, options include:

  • Metrolink – $4 one-way
  • GO BEST Express – $45 per person, round trip
  • Taxi – about $40 one-way between the airport and downtown. Cabs are readily available at the airport and the Hyatt.

More detailed information on airport transportation services will be sent to all registered participants a few weeks before the assembly.

Is transportation provided between the convention center and hotels?
No. The seven assembly hotels are all within walking distance of the convention center. The furthest (Hilton Ballpark) is located just 7 blocks away.

The downtown trolley (http://www.stladventurepass.com/downtown-trolley.html) operates on a route that connects the two farther hotels to the convention center, and charges $2/day for unlimited use.

What about parking downtown?
Parking is available at the each of the assembly hotels (see the hotel list for rates) and the convention center.

Several parking facilities in downtown St. Louis offer lower rates. Download a map and list here.

MEALS & DINING

What about meals and dining?
Six group meals are provided for commissioners and advisory delegates during the assembly, and other participants may order tickets to these meals as they register. Some additional meals are included in the orientations for advisory delegates. Commissioners and advisory delegates receive a per diem for other meals – see below.

Many of the optional events scheduled during the assembly include a meal—you may order tickets for these with your assembly registration. The deadline for advance ticket sales is June 1.

If you have food allergies or other special dietary restrictions please indicate these when you register.

There are concession areas in the convention center, restaurants in the assembly hotels, and many other restaurants and other dining outlets in downtown St. Louis—at all price ranges.

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 $53 ($13 for breakfast, $13 for lunch, and $27 for dinner). This also applies to OGA staff, volunteers, and members of OGA-related permanent and special committees.

Breakfast is included in the rate at 3 of the assembly hotels, so the breakfast per diem amount will be adjusted off for those staying at one of those properties.

BUSINESS

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 with WiFi accessibility to access PC-biz and read and track the business and the assembly’s actions on it in real time.

CHILDREN & FAMILIES

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, a few of the mission tours, and a few other parts of the assembly, but few particularly family-oriented activities are planned and child-care options in or near downtown St. Louis 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.

On-site child care is not available during the General Assembly, but for those who do bring children to the General Assembly, the OGA is working with the Committee on Local Arrangements to provide for a Family Room in the convention center, open during the hours of plenary sessions and committee meetings. It will not be staffed; parents may spend time with their child(ren) there. It will be equipped with rocking chairs, refrigerator, and other appropriate furnishings and equipment.

SPECIAL SERVICES

I have a disability or other special circumstances related to my participation in the assembly—what do I do?
If you have a disability or 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 800-728-7228, ext. 2417 so that we may arrange assistance.

The America’s Center and the assembly hotels are accessible by wheelchair and provide other accommodations for participants and guests with disabilities.

The G.A Meeting Service makes every effort to take special needs into account in making hotel assignments—please include pertinent information when you register.

Braille and large print copies of worship services will be available upon request at those services.

Those with a hearing impairment will access real time captioning of plenary sessions, worship and Bible study sessions via their mobile devices thanks to spf.io, a web-based service. Spf.io also provides translation of these sessions into Spanish and Korean, accessible on mobile devices.

As you register, please indicate if you expect to use the English captioning feature or the translation service. Plan to bring your smartphone or tablet (and earbuds or headphones, if needed) so you can take advantage of this technology. More information on using spf.io will be provided at a later time.

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 the convention center, next to the Assembly Information Center, staffed by volunteers from the Committee on Local Arrangements.

Will there be language interpretation?
Real time captioning and translation into Spanish and Korean of plenary sessions, worship and Bible study sessions will be provided using spf.io, a web-based service. It will be accessed via mobile devices.

GIFT PROJECT

How can we “give back” to our hosts in St. Louis?
The Gift Project is an assembly tradition, providing attendees an opportunity to give back to our generous hosts. The Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy is offering a multi-part Gift Project. Participants are asked to bring new men’s or women’s crew socks, and will also have an opportunity to participate in several hands-on mission projects in a special area in the assembly exhibit hall. These projects include:

  • Prepare “go-bags” for our unhoused neighbors in St. Louis. These will include the crew socks donated by GA attendees and other items, and will be distributed by various organizations, including Churches on the Streets and St. Louis Winter Outreach (working also in summer).
  • Prepare summer activity packs for children served by Churches on the Street summer youth outreach
  • Help get a head start on winter 2018 by making Prayer Scarves that will be distributed throughout the St. Louis area. Cut and tie fleece scarves and pray for the women, men, and children who are impacted by adverse weather conditions.
  • Working with the Office of Public Witness and local social justice advocates, write letters to government officials on issues of concern.
  • Working with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, prepare care packages needed by communities throughout our nation that have suffered from natural and human made disasters.

Financial donations will also be accepted to provide supplies for these projects.

Check out these projects, visit with facilitators, participate, and see how you can model a similar project in your own context.

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