The Rev. Janet Edwards has announced that she is stepping down as a candidate for moderator of the upcoming 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) because of a sudden serious illness that has struck her husband, Alvise.

While undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured disc in his neck on May 9, Alivse was discovered to have an enlarged thyroid that will require partial or complete removal.

“The complexity of Alvise’s sudden health problems, and the likely length of treatment and recovery, have made it clear that standing for moderator and serving in the office would be impossible for me at this time — at a time when my husband needs me most, Janet Edwards said in a statement.

“I am very grateful for the confidence of all who share my vision for the PC(USA),” Edwards said, “especially Jeff Krehbiel (her running mate for vice-moderator) whose joy at standing with me was such a gift. I know the church I love is in God’s sure hands.”

Edwards’ withdrawal leaves four candidates standing for moderator: the Rev. Robert Austell Jr. of Charlotte Presbytery; the Rev. Randy Branson of Palo Duro Presbytery; the Rev. Sue Krummel of Great Rivers Presbytery; and the Rev. Neal Presa of Elizabeth Presbytery.

The moderator of the 220th General Assembly will be elected on the opening day of the Assembly, June 30, in Pittsburgh. The biennial Assembly runs through July 7.