J. Herbert Nelson selected as nominee for PC(USA) Stated Clerk

April 19, 2016

Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson —Photo by Byron Buck


The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson is the nominee to become the next Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the committee charged with bringing a candidate to the 222nd General Assembly (2016) announced today.

“We, the committee, believe J. Herbert Nelson will be both priest and prophet to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and to our ecumenical and interreligious sisters and brothers,” said the Reverend Carol McDonald, moderator of the Stated Clerk Nomination Committee (SCNC).

“He has the heart and soul of a pastor; when he asks, ‘how are you doing?’ he really wants to know. His prophetic voice will call us as a denomination to do ‘kingdom work’—to reclaim the biblical and theological foundations of who we are, to forge again community that unites rather than divides, and to step boldly into the world to speak the message of Jesus,” she said.

Nelson is a teaching elder and member of National Capital Presbytery who has served since 2010 as director of the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C. From 1986 to 1997 he served as pastor of St. James Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, and from 1998 to 2010 he was the organizing pastor for Liberation Community Church in Memphis, Tennessee. He also has served as associate director of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis in Tennessee.

“I feel both heartened and humbled to be selected as the nominee for the office of Stated Clerk by the Stated Clerk Nomination Committee,” Nelson said. “It is my belief that our future opportunities as a denomination outweigh our challenges. We must collectively commit to serving the Kingdom of God and not simply the Church.”

Nelson’s name will be placed in nomination on Sunday, June 19, during a plenary session of the 222nd General Assembly (2016) in Portland, Oregon. If elected, he will be the first African American Stated Clerk of the PC(USA). The General Assembly runs June 18–25.

“I think the committee has made a wise and exciting choice,” said the Reverend Gradye Parsons, current PC(USA) Stated Clerk. “I look forward to working with the Reverend J. Herbert Nelson in the transition and supporting his ministry as Stated Clerk.”

McDonald said the committee’s decision on the nominee was “very clear.”

“Our process involved a substantial written application, a video presentation, a phone conversation, and two face-to-face interviews,” McDonald said. “In addition, we spoke with a significant number of primary and secondary references about Nelson’s gifts for this office, all of whom said they believed he is the right person for this time in the life of our church.”

Nelson, 56, holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Johnson C. Smith University, a master of divinity degree from Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, and a doctor of ministry degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He is married to the Reverend Gail Porter Nelson, pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. They have one adult daughter.

A detailed report of the work and process of the Stated Clerk Nomination Committee is available here and on PC-biz.org.

허버트 넬슨 (J.Herbert Nelson)이 미국 장로교 정서기로 지명되다

J. Herbert Nelson fue seleccionado como nominado a Secretario Permanente de la IP (EE.UU.)

  1. Congratulations Herbie! We are so very proud of you!

    by Shauna Patterson Robertson

    July 12, 2016

  2. Congratulations on your election from Trinity St. Petersburg. We look forward to hearing from you and meeting you.

    by Cynthia M. Harris

    July 11, 2016

  3. Congratulations from Trinity St. Petersburg. We look forward to hearing from you and meeting you.

    by Cynthia M. Harris

    July 11, 2016

  4. Thanks be to God for this gifted saint of the Church for such time as this. God's Grace and Peace will flow to every person touched by his presence.

    by William J Cowfer

    June 22, 2016

  5. Congratulations J. Herbert. Nelson. Looking forward to great leadership and compassion in the PCUSA. God bless


    May 4, 2016

  6. The selection of this visionary servant is timely; and greatly welcomed.

    by Emanuel and Mona Edwards

    May 4, 2016

  7. On behalf of the Cundiff family, Congratulations!

    by Fred Cundiff

    April 26, 2016

  8. I know your mother is smiling down on you because she always smiled when we talked about you .

    by Wille F Brailsford Jr

    April 24, 2016

  9. Congratulations to J. Herbert and congratulations to the nominating committee for their discernment for such a time as this!

    by Selma Jackson

    April 22, 2016

  10. Congratulations on a great choice! Our church is indeed blessed to have one to lead us that possess passion for Christ and a love for God's people.

    by Diane Givens Moffett

    April 21, 2016

  11. Congratulations to the Nomination Committee. Congratulations to Rev. Dr. J. Herbet Nelson. Congratulations to the PC(USA). Peace and blessings.

    by Robert Wilson

    April 20, 2016

  12. I have known J Herbert since his Greensboro days, and I couldn’t be happier for our Church. He's the right person for this critical moment in time for the PCUSA. I have also seen the way he is received by and welcomes as equals the thousands of young people at Montreat both up close and in programs and worship. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

    by Julie Lehman

    April 19, 2016

  13. A thoughtful, wonderful choice. Many thanks to the nominating committee!

    by Judy Austin

    April 19, 2016

  14. God is Good! Thank you to the Stated Clerk Nominating Committee for their faithful discernment. Praying for us all as we take this step forward.

    by Amy Kim Kyremes-Parks

    April 19, 2016

  15. One great selection after another! Congratulations both to J. Herbert and the committee smart enough to select him. We're headed toward great places and it's exciting that J. Herbert will be the one to help show us the way.

    by Mike Ferguson

    April 19, 2016

  16. The only negative in this nomination is the loss of his leadership in the Office of Public Witness. Who will fill that void of his prophetic voice?

    by Diana Bartelt

    April 19, 2016

  17. Excellent election. A wise man with a lot of skills, passion and commitment for PCUSA. God is good.

    by Hector Rodriguez

    April 19, 2016

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