Here are some thoughts from the virtual General Assembly of the Church of Scotland held on 2 & 3 October.
Reports were given as usual by the Convenors, standing at the lectern. The hall was lit as normal and the cameras recorded as normal, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, there were no Commissioners present. It was expected that around 700 Commissioners and others would be ‘tuned in’ via Zoom to watch and interact with proceedings.
Commissioners who wished to speak were ‘called to the front’ by the Moderator, and then we could see and hear them just as we see each other just ason our own Zoom services. However, unlike our experience of Zoom, we could not see everyone else. At the training for the Assembly we were encouraged to set up a split screen on our devices, so that we could always see and hear the Moderator, or whoever was speaking, on one part of our screen but, at the same time, be able to see and read the details of the section that we were being asked to vote on.
It all worked remarkably well with only a very few hiccups causing delays.
The Moderator called us to order to begin very promptly and we had a lunch break (30 minutes), as well as circulation breaks during Saturday, but it was a long day gazing at the screen. So, I was heartily relieved when the Benediction was pronounced at around 7pm.