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Information for First Time Attendees to General Assembly
Practical Advice from General Assembly (GA) “Veterans”
Relax—you don't have to go to everything.
The GA schedule is packed full of things to do. While GA is primarily the business meeting of the association, it is also a wonderful opportunity to network, connecting with old friends and meeting new and interesting people. The hundreds of available workshops and activities present sometimes painful choices for GA attendees.
GA Programming goes from early morning to late evening but you don't have to. If you will be a delegate for your congregation, you should prioritize attending General Sessions. Select several events or activities that are especially important or attractive to you and do not feel obligated to attend a program in every available time slot.
Plan your schedule and incorporate meals and down time.
Allow adequate times for nourishment and rest. There will be concessions available at the convention center. However, buying simple groceries such as fruit and granola bars will give you more control over your time, wallet, and well-being.
Bring comfortable walking shoes.
You might think that you'll be sitting in General Session or in workshops all day but the reality is that you'll probably be doing a lot of walking. In addition to commuting between your hotel, meals, and the convention center, you will be navigating 500,000 square feet of meeting space and exhibits.
The Accessibilities Services Committee coordinates the provision of assistive devices for GA attendees, including wheelchairs, walkers, and electric scooters. If you have mobility or other physical access concerns, we ask that you please fill out an Accessibilities Services Request Form by April 30 so that arrangements can be made.
Wear your name badge.
When you arrive at GA, you will receive an official GA name badge. You MUST wear your name badge while attending or participating in any GA event, including evening entertainment. Name badges help to foster a sense of community and security; they identify us to one another and also to ushers and security personnel. It is essential that your name badge stays with you throughout the week and is displayed appropriately while you are in the convention center or our shared meeting spaces.
Write your name on your program, book bag, etc.
It is easy to forget or misplace items when meandering the Exhibit Hall or going from meeting to meeting. Lost and Found will be in the GA Volunteer Office in the convention center.
Attend the GA Orientation on Wednesday
Come learn more about our host city and how to get the most out of this year's GA. All questions answered! Topics will include information about the GA schedule, Plenary Sessions, and the Social Witness process. There will also be programming announcements of any changes or cancellations..
Attend your Region's Meeting on Wednesday
Sometimes first timers feel isolated or intimidated by the thousands of “friends they haven’t yet met” at GA. The Regional Meeting is a great place to start connecting. Meet up with someone from your home state and ask them what they are most looking forward to about GA or which speaker they are excited to hear.
If you will be a delegate…
When you pick up your GA name badge, present the delegate credential document you receive from your congregation and you will be issued a delegate voting card and ribbon. You must have your delegate ribbon and voting card to vote in General Session. Review the Agenda and the Rules of Procedure before GA.
If you will not be a delegate…
If you are not a delegate, you are still encouraged to attend General Session. The only things you cannot do are sign petitions for Actions of Immediate Witness and vote in General Session or in elections.
Take time to care for yourself.
Bring a refillable water bottle. Eat small snacks frequently to re-energize. Bring a sweater; air conditioned rooms can be chilly. Allow yourself plenty of time for exploring the GA exhibit hall; there will be more than you can take in all at once and it's a great place to take a break or get a snack.
You will have a richer experience if you make adequate time each day for rest and reflection. A chaplain is available at any hour during GA for assistance in case of personal emergency or need for pastoral care. Office hours and after-hours phone numbers will be posted. A closing meditation and shared reflections led by the chaplain and a member of the GA Planning Committee will be held Wednesday through Saturday evening in the convention center.