The Critical Role of a Presbytery Clerk

For six years, Neil Spence has served as the stated clerk of Nashville Presbytery in addition to his duties as pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Dickson, Tennessee. In his role as clerk, he has used and benefited from the tools and training provided by the Administrative Committee (AC). However, no training could have prepared him for the situation he faced last year.

On Tuesday, March 27, 2023, the Administrative Committee received a heartbreaking request from TE Spence. He requested the AC’s help in mobilizing prayer for the victims of a violent act which had taken place at The Covenant School on the campus of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Nashville. The Administrative Committee responded by publishing a social media notice through byFaith magazine.

On the day of the attack, Neil Spence was in a presbytery committee meeting, when elders present from Covenant Presbyterian Church received phone calls regarding an active shooter on their church’s campus. The elders from Covenant Presbyterian immediately left and those remaining set aside their agenda for a time of prayer.

Neil Spence and others in the presbytery helped coordinate an evening prayer service at a local church. They even appointed a teaching elder to serve as an information officer to manage the inquiries coming from various media outlets for statements. For the next few days, Rev. Spence found himself coordinating resources and communicating information as the presbytery sought to support Covenant Presbyterian Church.

When TE Spence agreed to become clerk of Nashville Presbytery, he couldn’t have predicted that God would permit such a sorrowful event to unfold in their midst. The suffering of one church became an unplanned occasion for the presbytery members to coordinate and use their gifts in bearing one another’s burden. As Neil puts it, “Covenant Presbyterian is one of the pillars of our presbytery. It was an honor for the presbytery to serve them in their time of need.”

PCA churches are organized into presbyteries. Each presbytery oversees churches within a particular geographical area, like the Nashville metropolitan area. And every presbytery elects a clerk, like Neil, whose role is to not only record the business conducted by the presbytery, but who often serves as the primary point of contact on a range of topics facing churches.

Presbytery clerks have official duties but often become the unofficial point person when unanticipated issues arise. Such important duties require great commitment that can often be resourced by others who have served in these vital and sacrificial roles. In seeking such resources, Rev. Spence has often utilized the counsel provided by the Administrative Committee, especially during the annual clerks conference. He reports,

“There is continual learning among the clerks. We ask questions and draw on each other’s experience. I’ve attended the clerk conference four times. It’s a wonderful gathering that absolutely helps you improve your service as a clerk.”

The AC coordinates resources and relationships for presbytery clerks like Neil Spence so every presbytery can more effectively reach people with the message of Christ’s grace. We provide technology, training, and advice to help them with their official and unofficial duties.

We delight to serve our clerks as part of our ministry of serving the mission of the whole Church.