Basically, Open Space or Unco are crowd-sourced conferences, with attendees setting the agenda and providing discussion leadership. At the 41st General Council - known as GC41 - Thursday August 16 began with the facilitators explaining how Open Source would work in a one-day setting with 300 elected Commissioners, plus Youth Forum delegates. This was a larger group than Unco has been. Then all ideas were welcome - any Commissioner or Youth Forum delegate with a discussion group idea came up, wrote their idea on a sheet of paper, spoke into a microphone stating their idea, then proceeded to a wall where the pages were posted in time blocks. There were three blocks of an hour and a half each, one morning and two afternoon. Each sheet was then given a number, which matched that on a pole topped with a colourful windmill so people wishing to attend would be able to find each group in the large meeting space.
It seems that Open Space/Unconference formats are ideal for letting ideas come forth that may otherwise be held back by our proposal format with three courts of the church - congregation, Presbytery, and Conference - passing on formal motions to General Council. The topics covered included several that were only mentioned in passing or not covered at all in other General Council business, such as rural ministry, clergy pay, outreach ministries, suburban church growth, and LGBTQ experiences in ministry. Perhaps our processes will evolve so that a future General Council receives most of its input from crowd-sourced discussions and formal reports and motions occupy the minority of Commissioners' time.