The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
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The Rev. Bronwen Boswell
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An acting stated clerk has been named to lead the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) for the next year after the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, retired June 30 from his elected role as stated clerk.  

Rev. Nelson announced in April that, after seven years as the chief ecclesial officer of the PC (USA), he would not seek a third term and would retire a year before his second term ended.

“I sought God’s will my entire life, following in the footsteps of my father and grandfather to preach the gospel in the Presbyterian Church (USA),” Rev. Nelson said in announcing his retirement. “I believe that God calls us into new seasons in our life of discipleship.”

“This was not an easy decision,” Rev. Nelson said, “but I feel it is the right one to make for my family and my church in this time of change.”  

Read more about Nelson’s announcement in an April 25, 2023 article published by Rick Jones and Randy Hobson.

After Nelson announced his intent to retire, the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly began searching for a candidate to serve as the Acting Stated Clerk until the 226th General Assembly convenes next summer.

The committee selected the Rev. Bronwen Boswell, who is general presbyter/stated clerk of the Shenandoah Presbytery. Rev. Boswell officially began her Acting Stated Clerk duties on July 10. Learn more about the selection process and Rev. Boswell’s background in a June 22, 2023 article by Rick Jones.

“I am humbled and excited by this opportunity to serve the denomination in this way. It truly is a call, by COGA and the Holy Spirit,” Rev. Boswell said in the article. “I had looked at the possibility when it was first posted and thought that there were probably others best suited for the position, but I received a phone call that asked me to consider applying and I thought – what could that hurt? And lo and behold, here we are.”  

During the final weeks of Rev. Nelson’s tenure as Stated Clerk, four video interviews with Rev. Nelson and his wife, the Rev. Gail Porter Nelson, about his work and perspective were published by Rick Jones and Randy Hobson in the Office of the General Assembly.

Part One – Rev. Nelson’s rise to become the first person of color to serve as the top ecclesial officer of the denomination was historic but one that he says could not have been possible without the support and sacrifices of his wife. The couple shares their call to ministry.  

Part Two – Shortly after being elected Stated Clerk, Rev. Nelson launched the Hands and Feet initiative to strengthen local and national mission efforts of the denomination by encouraging partnerships and mission involvement within the cities hosting the General Assembly. The couple reflects on the lasting impact of the initiative.

Part Three – The immigration crisis, poverty, racial equity, human rights. These make up the foundation of Rev. Nelson’s term as Stated Clerk. He traveled domestically and internationally to address some of the most pressing human rights and social justice issues. The couple share their joint call to address these pressing issues.

Part Four – For the past three years, Rev. Nelson has emphasized the need for the denomination to take the necessary steps to be the church of the 21st century. These steps include innovation, imagination and a lot of energetic, vital young people. The couple reflect on communication advances and hope for the next generation of church leaders.