PCUSA’s Leader J. Herbert Nelson Talks Social Justice Issues With New York Mayor Bill De Blasio

The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, spends time with Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife Chirlane McCray during a recent visit. Photo provided.

More than 8.6 million people call New York City home. It is the most populous city in the U.S. Even with its strong corporate and financial structure, the city faces incredible challenges.

Recently, staff from New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office invited the Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), to meet and discuss the city’s various issues.

“Because of the contacts we have made along with the work in the office and some of the work that has been done on the ground with the Presbytery of New York City, it has drawn the attention of the mayor’s office,” said Nelson. “A lot of it has to do with issues of justice and commitment to justice over the years, the recognition that poor people exist in mass in New York in ways you won’t see in other parts of the U.S.”

Nelson says New York’s infrastructure places a heavy burden on those living in poverty.

“Updated piping, water and sewage treatment are behind in this major city. People in poverty find themselves paying as much for an apartment as they would a mortgage,” he said. “Some have lived in their apartments for more than 35 years and not seen any renovations or upgrades. They’ve never owned anything, not even the cellphones they use.”

Nelson says he had an opportunity to spend some time with both the mayor and the mayor’s wife, Chirlane McCray, where they “had some good church talk on one end and a lot of common talk on the other.”

This is the third time in more than a year that the Stated Clerk has been invited to meet with the mayor’s staff. Nelson was originally contacted following the 223rd General Assembly (2018) and the march in downtown St. Louis to end cash bail.

“This says a lot about their embrace of our work. We ought to be proud of that, not for our sake but for the sake of Jesus Christ,” Nelson said. “Secondly, we need to take seriously, wherever we are in the U.S., no matter how big or how small our churches are, people are watching us and there are engagements we can be a part of that can transform lives. We are serious about doing the work. This is a great start.”

Nelson adds that the power of the church in community is much more than many anticipated.

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Source: Presbyterian Church USA News