The Reverend Clay Nelson
Clay came to Aotearoa New Zealand in 2005 from California. There he was serving as the Administrator of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento, while preparing to be Unitarian Universalist minister. He was already an ordained Episcopal (Anglican) priest after graduating from Virginia Theological Seminary outside Washington DC. In that denomination he served parishes in New York, Michigan, New Jersey and California and was later Archdeacon of the Diocese of San Diego. He then served the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara as their administrator before moving to Sacramento.
Upon his arrival in New Zealand he served St Matthew-in-the-City Anglican Church as their manager of communications and marketing before adding to his responsibilities the role of Priest Associate. His claim to fame (notoriety?) was overseeing the production of numerous controversial billboards, some of which went viral around the world.
Prior to the ministry he attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, acquiring a degree in Political Science. He then earned a Master’s in Student Personnel Administration (with an emphasis on counselling and community development) at The Ohio State University. He then worked a number of years in higher education at Ohio State, Western Michigan University and George Washington University.
Clay describes himself as a “progressive Christian.” He does not believe traditional Christian creeds are helpful to our faith journey–certainly the historical Jesus wouldn’t subscribe to them. Clay is a non-theist who believes each of us must take responsibility for nourishing and developing our spirituality. This is not a passive activity. He has been nurtured most in his own journey through worship and service to others, such as working on Habitat for Humanity projects in northern Mexico and Appalachia, organising faith communities in Michigan and New Jersey to provide shelter to homeless mothers and their children, and founding an inter-faith hospital chaplaincy.
In his role as minister to Auckland Unitarians he hopes to be a resource to any or all who desire to experience their full humanity through their chosen spiritual path. And who wish to do so in a community committed to transforming the world to be a little more just and a little more peaceful.