The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II has informed the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly that he will not seek a third term as Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Nelson made the announcement during the final day of COGA’s spring meeting in Louisville on Thursday.
“I have been in some real deep prayer about this for some time. As I look back, I think we’ve come a mighty long way with God’s help and the faithfulness of folks both internally and externally,” he said. “We’ve had differences along the way, but we’ve gotten through them. We figured out how to correct each other in love and one can’t ask for more than that.”
In his brief remarks to COGA members, Nelson praised the collaboration to pull off two historic General Assemblies during the Covid pandemic.
“We’ve had long days trying to figure out how to do a General Assembly and we’ve been a conduit to other denominations and have helped them get through their assembly meetings,” he said. “We’ve dealt with some hard things, but we’ve been able to do what was necessary. For myself, I feel there is some completion. It’s a time for other individuals to step up and deal with the issue of where we go next. It needs to happen.”
Nelson was elected Stated Clerk during the 222nd General Assembly in Portland, Oregon, in 2016 and stood unopposed during the virtual 224th General Assembly in 2020. His term is set to expire at the 226th General Assembly in 2024. Last year, commissioners and advisory delegates at the 225th General Assembly elected a Stated Clerk Nominating Committee to begin the task of discerning and making recommendations at next year’s assembly.
“There comes a time where you have to declare that you’ve done what you think you’ve needed to do,” Nelson concluded. “There is no bitterness. I thank God for the best job I’ve ever had with some of the best people I’ve ever worked with.”
The Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA) is the chief ecclesial officer of the denomination. Elected to four-year terms, the Stated Clerk carries out the ecumenical and constitutional functions of the General Assembly as outlined by the Book of Order, General Assembly Organization for Mission and the Standing Rules of the meetings of the General Assembly.