As the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) prepares to open Big Tent this week in Baltimore, the Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), has become one of the latest to defend the city following criticism from the Trump Administration.

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump lashed out at Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings, referring to his Baltimore district as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” He went on to label the city as a “very dangerous and filthy place.” The remarks have drawn sharp criticism from Baltimore officials and other leaders across the country.

Nelson has described Baltimore as a city rich in history and filled with good, hard-working people who are committed to making a difference. The Stated Clerk issued a brief statement on Facebook yesterday.

“Despite the President’s demeaning comments about Congressman Cummings and Baltimore, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is happy to hold its Big Tent event here this week and our General Assembly meeting in the summer of 2020,” he said. “More to say on this in a few days.”

Presbyterians from around the country will gather in Baltimore Thursday through Saturday for worship, learning opportunities, and engagement with residents and organizations. Big Tent is the church’s biennial gathering.

Since becoming Stated Clerk, Nelson has said that he wanted the church to not only invest dollars but action in the cities that host events such as Big Tent and the General Assembly. Last year, the Office of the General Assembly launched its Hands and Feet initiative in Baltimore, working closely with the Presbytery of Baltimore and The Center, a nonprofit organization working to equip churches and individuals to work in their neighborhoods.