Elkins, WVThe Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (USA), will be the speaker for the Davis & Elkins College Class of 2023 Baccalaureate Service set for Friday, May 12 at 7:00 p.m. in the Myles Center for the Arts Harper-McNeeley Auditorium.

“It is an honor to welcome Rev. Dr. Nelson to the D&E campus,” stated Chris A. Wood, President of Davis & Elkins. “As the top elected official within the Presbyterian Church (USA), his presence strengthens the connectional ties between the college and the denomination.  He is a strong advocate for social justice and is known for his preaching skills.  He will remind our graduates of their responsibility to take what they have learned at D&E and utilize it on behalf of all God’s children.”

Graduating seniors who will lead the service of praise and worship celebrating the accomplishments of the Class of 2023 are Anna Ruf, an Education major; Samantha Bykofsky, a Psychology major; and Cora Alderman, an Environmental Science major. The Davis & Elkins College Concert Choir, under the direction of Elizabeth Marshall-MacVean will present various works. In addition, D&E President Chris A. Wood, Board of Trustees Chair Mark Barber ’75 and Rev. Rich Cardot will also be taking part in the ceremonies

The title of Rev. Dr. Nelson’s sermon is “The world is waiting for you. Can you perceive it?” The son, grandson, and nephew of Presbyterian pastors, Nelson is the first African American to lead the denomination, which has a 300-year history in the U.S. As Stated Clerk his duties include interpreting assembly actions, representing the church on various denominational and ecumenical councils, witnessing on behalf of the church to social justice issues, and making statements as directed by an assembly. 

Prior to becoming Stated Clerk, Nelson served as director of the PC (USA)’s Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C. His service to the denomination also includes calls as pastor of St. James Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, and organizing pastor of Liberation Community Church in Memphis, Tennessee. 

As an extension to his ministry in the PC(USA), Nelson served as associate director of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis. As a consultant, he provided staff development training for teacher specialists, curriculum specialists, and principal leaders who provide assistance for low-performing schools. 

Nelson holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary; a Master of Divinity degree from Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary; and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science/Urban Studies from Johnson C. Smith University. 

He is a featured conference preacher and writer and serves on various boards and professional organizations. His international travel includes trips to South Africa; Geneva, Switzerland; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Havana, Cuba on behalf of the PC(USA). 

Davis & Elkins College Commencement Weekend kicks off with the Nursing Pinning Ceremony and Baccalaureate Service on Friday, May 12 beginning at 4:00 p.m. Commencement will be held on Saturday, May 13 beginning at 10:00 a.m. in the Myles Center for the Arts. To learn more about Commencement Weekend visit www.dewv.edu