The year was 1986 and J. Herbert Nelson, II began his career as a Presbyterian pastor. Little did he know where the next 35 years would take him. The Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will be the first to say he didn’t realize he had reached this milestone in his ministry.

Nelson is also the first to say he didn’t imagine that he would be where he is now, especially as the denomination looks at where it needs to go as a 21st-century church.

The Stated Clerk recently sat down to reflect on what he’s learned in his more than three decades in the ministry.