Commissioner Pre-Assembly Training
Where will the assembly take place?
The business meetings, exhibit hall, and most other official events will take place at the America’s Center Convention Complex 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.
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 to those churches that are not within walking distance or accessible by public transportation, 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.
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?
Registration will not go live until late winter 2018.
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.
Registration fees will be announced in 2018.
My spouse/partner/friend/family will be with me; do they need to register?
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 Amtrak Gateway Station is in downtown St. Louis, accessible to the convention center and assembly hotels by public transportation or a short cab ride.
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?
Hotel Rooms are blocked at seven hotels in downtown St. Louis. Discounted rates at these assembly hotels are available to all participants, including observers, who register in advance through the GA Meeting Service. Reservations for rooms in these assembly hotels are made only through the G.A. registration process. Do not call the hotels for a reservation or book through their on-line reservation process. Marriott Grand, Courtyard Convention Center, Drury Inn & Suites Convention Center, Embassy Suites Downtown, Holiday Inn Downtown Convention Center, Hampton Inn Gateway Arch, Hilton at the Ballpark.
Assembly registrants, including observers, are eligible to request lodging in these hotels at the special assembly rates. Please do not contact these hotels directly for reservations. The special assembly rates will only be available to those that register directly through General Assembly Meeting Service.
MEALS & DINING
What about meals and dining?
Six 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 the convention center, restaurants in the assembly hotels, and many other restaurants and other dining outlets in downtown St. Louis—at all price ranges.
Many of the optional events scheduled during the assembly include a meal—you may order tickets for these with your assembly registration.
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.
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 children there. It will be equipped with rocking chairs, refrigerator, changing table, and other appropriate furnishings and equipment.