Stated Clerk issues statement on Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel

December 6, 2017

Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, II

Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, II


General Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson, II issued a statement today from the Holy Land – where he is traveling with a delegation of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) leaders, criticizing President Trump’s decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and  to instruct the U.S. State Department to begin planning to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Nelson’s statement is similar to one issued by the National Council of Churches, which had been in contact with him earlier. In its statement , the NCC praised the witness of the PC(USA) delegation and asked for prayers for its safety.

The full text of Nelson’s statement:

Statement by the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
General Assembly stated clerk, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be a grievous mistake. For Christians concerned with peace and justice, Jerusalem must be a city shared by three faiths and two peoples. As long as Israel occupies East Jerusalem and restricts Palestinian human rights, to designate Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is to endorse the violation of international law. We pray for “the peace of Jerusalem” as Christmas approaches, but peace is not achieved by unilateral claims or annexation. There is a profound moral stewardship of the holy sites in Jerusalem that requires the shared decision-making of Christian and Muslim Palestinians as well as Jewish Israelis. Behind the many General Assembly statements affirming Jerusalem to be a shared city is the conviction that Jesus still calls us to be peacemakers.

Claiming Jerusalem as the capital for one people not only damages hope for peace between Israeli and Palestinians, but deepens religious tensions among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Each of our religious traditions has a long memory. Back in 1947, the original UN plan for two states called for Jerusalem to be an international city, so that religious coexistence there could be a model for tolerance around the world. The nations of the world have respected that good vision by keeping their embassies in Tel Aviv until a just peace can be achieved. For the U.S. government to act alone in the interests of one side is to end any claim that we can be an “honest broker” in a peace process to end the occupation of Palestine. It is for these reasons that we go on record as a church to express our deep disagreement with this action by our government. In this year of painful anniversaries for the Palestinians, it would be another betrayal to abandon the equal claims of both the Palestinians and the Israelis to Jerusalem, a city of historical and spiritual significance shared by Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

  • UN General Assembly Resolution 181 (II) designates Jerusalem as a whole and its environs as “a corpus separatum under [a special] international regime,” to be administered by the UN.
  • UN General Assembly Resolution 194 affirmed the free access for worship and right of return or compensation for refugees.
  • the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 476 stating that “measures which have altered the geographic, demographic and historical character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem are null and void” and “constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”
  1. Once again PCUSA demonstrates how it's leftist philosophy has taken over the denomination that has been failing and losing congregants for decades now. All the while trying to appear to be above politics, but actually so deeply ingrained in the disturbing and destructive path that threatens our country and western civilization as a whole. It is very SAD! We can no longer look to our church for the values we need to survive.

    by sam boyer

    February 28, 2018

  2. I do not wish to state my support for the United States to move to Jerusalem or not. I want to question the purpose of this letter and others. Do we really think anyone listens to the letter from the Stated Clerk of the PCUSA? What a letter like this and others do is bring more division within the denomination than address the issue at hand. This morning, I had a member in my office asking why we are against moving the embassy to Jerusalem. If I do not answer to "correctly" I may see another member go out the door. Is that worth a letter than nobody in Washington will read?

    by Bruce Sexton

    December 18, 2017

  3. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Imagining a future where this is not the case is also imagining a future where Israel does not exist. Move the embassy.

    by R. Mark Owens

    December 12, 2017

  4. Thank you for that statement.

    by Lucille Sider

    December 9, 2017

  5. Hi- I really appreciate the documentation at the end. I stress UN Resolution 181 in every conversation I have with folks about this issue. US people's knowledge of history is so minimal. We need to continually repeat that Jerusalem is occupied territory and was never part of the state of Israel.

    by Frank Jents

    December 9, 2017

  6. Do you really think there will ever be a Mideast peace treaty in which Jerusalem is not the Israeli capital? Ask the Palestinians to accept the right of Israel to exist for openers and maybe the peace process could begin. For our denomination to again take the Palestinian side is disturbing

    by Spencer Dixon

    December 9, 2017

  7. Thanks for the documentation at the end. I push that info in almost every conversation about this topic and people are just not aware if it.

    by Frank Jents

    December 9, 2017

  8. Rev. Dr. Nelson: Thank you for the courage shown in making this statement. I am in total agreement.

    by Ron Giermann

    December 9, 2017

  9. I was a Commissioner to the 2014 Detroit GA. I publicly opposed our boycotts of Hewlett-Packard, Caterpillar and Motorola Solutions. I regret the decision of President Trump. Nevertheless, this statement plays into the hands of those who want to destroy the Jewish Homeland. ACSWAP, the Israel-Palestine Mission Network and PPF are complicit in Left-Wing Anti-Semitism!

    by Rev. Dr. Kenneth Macari

    December 8, 2017

  10. In my humble opinion, I agree with both Nora Harmon and Nancy Rice.

    by Patricia M.

    December 8, 2017

  11. Embassy has been in Tel Aviv for ever and the conflict goes on. Maybe the President’s action will get the parties back to the table for meaningful discussions. Already in less than 48 hours there has been more international discussion of the conflict than there has been for a long time. Let’s work together for peace.

    by Carl Kuhn

    December 8, 2017

  12. A good statement. Thank you.

    by Nahida Gordon

    December 8, 2017

  13. Thank you, J Herbert, for an excellent opinion piece--clear, concise, and well-reasoned. If I an additional comment may be permitted: the lead-in that the statement was issued "from the Holy Land" is problematic. The idea that the territory of ancient Israel and Judah is "holy" comes to us from the era of the Crusades, which may be the darkest period in church history. Popes and crowned heads in Europe sent armies to pillage, kill, and by force wrest the "Holy Land" from the infidels. Contrary to Roman Catholic teaching about sacred space, our Reformed ancestors taught that all of God's creation is holy. The land of ancient, or modern Israel, for that matter, is no more holy than Ecuador, Albania, or Nebraska. Sadly, Holy Land psychology undergirds mistreatment of Palestinians as well as theological aberations such as Christian Zionism and dispensationalism.

    by Deane Kemper, HR

    December 8, 2017

  14. No country in the Middle East has provided the level of protection and support for religious expression ... including Muslim and Christian ... than has Israel. That is also true in Jerusalem. This announcement changes exactly nothing concerning the ability of Christians, Jews, and Muslims to visit and worship at their holy sites in Jerusalem. And, as a MOWS in good standing in the PC(USA), I strongly object to the Stated Clerk's presumption that he speaks for "the church." His words are inflammatory and inciteful against the Jewish State, and I publicly dissent from them.

    by Rev. John Erthein

    December 7, 2017

  15. J. Herbert, thank you for this and for your presence, along with others from the PCUSA, in the Middle East at this tumultuous time. May you be bearers of Peace. From your friends at the Davis Community Church, Davis, California

    by Chris Neufeld-Erdman

    December 7, 2017

  16. Guess we know who the Grinch who stole Christmas really is now...😢🤔

    by Laura-Magnolia Robinson Morris

    December 7, 2017

  17. Thank you, J. Herbert for these words.

    by Karen Robinson

    December 7, 2017

  18. Excellent statement!! I am proud of our church (PCUSA) for its stand for justice.

    by Olga L Taylor, PhD

    December 7, 2017

  19. This move will only add to the unrest that all ready exists in the region. We need to help the people not stir up more trouble. They are beyond a two state position With all the building that has been permitted.

    by Nora harmon

    December 7, 2017

  20. This move by Mr Trump is an insult to the three world religions that call Jerusalem holy ground. I am ashamed as an American Christian that this was done by an American that calls himself a leader of the free world.

    by Nancy Rice

    December 7, 2017

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