The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, a third-generation Presbyterian pastor, has been named the new director of public witness for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington Office. Nelson has 25 years of experience in congregational ministry. The past several years, he has worked in a new church development at Liberation Community Presbyterian Church, a ministry with the urban poor of Memphis, Tenn. Nelson also often preaches and serves as a keynote leader at Presbyterian youth and adult conferences.
The Presbyterian Washington Office is the public policy information and advocacy office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The office advocates, and helps the church at large to live out the social witness perspectives and policies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The church has a long history of applying these biblically and theologically-based insights to issues that affect the public — maintaining a public policy ministry in the nation’s capital since 1946.
“I see this new call as something of an ‘occu-passion’,” said Nelson. “I am grateful for the opportunity to devote my work to something about which I feel so deeply passionate. I am both humbled and excited to think about new ways of addressing public policy.”
Nelson recognizes that many Presbyterians, especially young people, have a keen interest in living out the values of their faith in ways that impact the public arena. Yet, they do not make the connection with the Presbyterian Church and its historic role in shaping public policy. His hope is to help individuals, networks and congregations work together as they seek to bear witness to Christ’s love and justice in ways that transform the world.
“I am impressed by his sense of passion and calling as pastor and prophet — to give voice to the church’s calling to demonstrate God’s intention for the world, especially in regard to justice,” said Sara Lisherness, director of Compassion Peace and Justice for the General Assembly Mission Council. “He has a real track record of speaking to and inspiring a younger generation to live out the reign of God in the context of our world.”
The director of public witness provides a point of focus as the PC(USA) gives expression of its faith in the public square. As the primary liaison with the Office of the Stated Clerk, the wider church, ecumenical and interfaith partners, and the general public, this position provides leadership to a holistic vision of public witness in the Reformed tradition.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) comprises more than 2 million members in more than 10,000 congregations, answering Christ’s call to mission and ministry throughout the United States and the world.