J. Herbert Nelson, II

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J. Herbert Nelson

The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II is the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), a "Member Communion of the Church World Service.[1] as of 2016.

The Reverend Gradye Parsons previously served in the role until his retirement.[2]

Cuba Trip 2017

The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II "made his first trip to Cuba as Stated Clerk to attend a gathering of the IPRC, the Cuba Partners Network Presbyterian-Reformed Church of Cuba, and Presbyterian Church (USA) World Mission to take part in discussions about the renewal of the Mutual Mission agreement between Presbyterians in both countries that was first confirmed in 1986."[3] He had previously visited Havana, Cuba in 1999 and 2000.

"Grassroots Organizing"

From a biography[4] posted at the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship website:

"Nelson believes that grassroots organizing within the denomination is a major key to impacting the prophetic witness and political sphere in today’s globalized culture."


"Before going to Liberation Community Church, Dr. Nelson served as Pastor of St. James Presbyterian Church, a redeveloping congregation located in a thriving, middle-class area in Greensboro, North Carolina, ultimately leaving there to go to Memphis to be more actively involved in social justice work. During his eleven year tenure as Pastor of St. James Presbyterian Church, Nelson began the Doctor of Ministry Program at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary. His dissertation, “A Community Based Model of An African American New Church Development in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)” focused on the educational needs of poor African American children. He graduated with distinction in May 2002.
"A third generation graduate of Johnson C. Smith University (Presbyterian University founded in 1865), Dr. Nelson earlier earned a B.A. in Political Science/Urban Studies in 1981. In 1985, he earned the Master of Divinity degree from Johnson C. Smith Seminary (third generation graduate) at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia. He received his Doctor of Ministry from Louisville Seminary in 2002.
"J. Herbert, as he is commonly known, serves as preacher, workshop leader, consultant and writer. He is a featured conference preacher at Montreat, Mo Ranch, Highlands-Colorado, and Massanetta Springs Conference Centers in the Presbyterian Church. His writings have appeared in Presbyterians Today and The Presbyterian Outlook. He is a member of several boards and professional organizations. Nelson has traveled to South Africa (1983), Geneva, Switzerland (1992), Montego Bay, Jamaica (1993, 2007), and Havana, Cuba (1999 and 2000) on behalf of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and is now devoting considerable time to meeting with congregations and presbyteries throughout the United States.


The biography of the Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II from the Presbyterian Church (USA) website:[5]

"The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II serves as Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the largest Reformed denomination in the United States. He was elected at the 222nd General Assembly (2016) in Portland, Oregon.
"The son, grandson, and nephew of Presbyterian pastors, Nelson is the first African American to lead the denomination, which has a 300-year history in the U.S. As Stated Clerk his duties include interpreting assembly actions, representing the church on various denominational and ecumenical councils, witnessing on behalf of the church to social justice issues, and making statements as directed by an assembly.
"Prior to becoming Stated Clerk, Nelson served as director of the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C. His service to the denomination also includes calls as pastor of St. James Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, and organizing pastor of Liberation Community Church in Memphis, Tennessee.
"As an extension to his ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Nelson served as associate director of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis. As a consultant, he provided staff development training for teacher specialists, curriculum specialists, and principal leaders who provide assistance for low-performing schools.
"Nelson holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary; a Master of Divinity degree from Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary; and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science/Urban Studies from Johnson C. Smith University.
"He is a featured conference preacher and writer, and serves on various boards and professional organizations. His international travel includes trips to South Africa, Geneva, Switzerland, Montego Bay, Jamaica, and Havana, Cuba, on behalf of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
"Nelson is married to the Reverend Gail Porter Nelson, and they have one adult daughter, Alycia Yvette Nelson.

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