The Bible often likens the people of God to sheep. They are defenseless and in need of guidance, to be nurtured and cared for. Truly a pastor is a shepherd; the watchman and protector of his flock. This individual is appointed by the Lord and has the responsibility of feeding the hungry soul. Jesus said, “Man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). In very much the same way the pastor must attend to the natural and spiritual needs of the people. He must be compassionate and tender, yet firm and courageous; yielding to the divine mandates of God. The Scripture also requires that “He must be blameless… vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, and apt to teach” (I Timothy 3:2).
Born July 8, 1934 in St. Louis, Missouri, Bishop Nelson, Sr., Founder and Presiding Prelate Emeritus, World Assemblies of Restoration, Inc., is the third oldest of seven children. He received his primary education in Muskegon, Michigan, but later moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he enlisted in the United States Army. After serving two years in Chicago and one year in Korea, he attended the Chicago Baptist Institute. Upon completion, he returned to St. Louis where he found and married Overseer Bessie Nelson. Overseer Bessie Nelson, his beloved wife, is a rare and precious jewel. From this blessed union, four children (Janice, James Jr., Jason and Jonathan) were born. In July 2014, Bishop and Evangelist Nelson bought joy to hundreds as they witnessed renewal of their vows during their 50th wedding anniversary.
As a young parent, James Nelson, Sr. had a successful career in the food service industry. Because of his highly sought after leadership skills and culinary ability, he was selected as the Director of Food Services and Deputy Director of Support Services of Maryland Manpower Corp.
In 1963, Bishop Nelson, Sr. was baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ under Bishop P.L. Scott, and later received the gift of the Holy Ghost under Pastor Grace White. Nestled in her pastoral care, he served faithfully as a deacon and the local minister while learning to “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (I Chronicles 16:29). Later Bishop Nelson Sr., was installed as Senior Pastor of the Bethlehem Temple Church. Then naturally, because of his thirst for souls, that little flower blossomed into the Greater Bethlehem Temple Church of Deliverance. He served as pastor faithfully for more than 25 years.
The Tabernacle at GBT (formerly Greater Bethlehem Temple) was gifted a rich legacy of spiritual wealth, as well as a beautiful 7-acre property. The gift is undeniably due to the favor of God. In July 2007, Bishop Nelson transitioned from the Office of Pastor at GBT to Apostolic Father and Overseer of his life’s “work”. The Tabernacle at GBT is blessed to have continued access to him. A faithful servant of God who possesses the wisdom, dedication and strength necessary to lead us from earth to glory, he is due double-honor. As an Apostolic Father, he is most certainly called, qualified and commissioned by God for destiny and end-time ministry.
In 1995, under the guidance of our Lord Jesus Christ, Bishop Nelson, Sr., resigned his executive position on the Board of Bishops of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. He then founded the World Assemblies of Restoration, Inc. (W.A.R), becoming Presiding Prelate. Since its official launch in October of 1995, the organization has a membership of more than 300 churches across the United States, West Africa, Jamaica, West Indies and Canada. His love for God, love for the Word of God, the people of God, and His family have been a hallmark of his dynamic and faithful spiritual leadership.
During his 19½-year tenure as Presiding Prelate, he has built WAR a solid foundation on the Word of God. He’s ministered to Jew, Gentile and Muslim; he baptized thousands in the names of Jesus; he consecrated individuals for five-fold ministry, established churches nationally and internationally, and built schools and church edifices. He is a prophet whose generosity is unparalleled. As a “walking Bible” worshiper, Bishop Nelson, Sr., epitomizes the meaning of a living epistle.
Bishop Nelson, Sr., has had too many accomplishments to list here. He has also received Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Theology and holds a Doctorate of Theology from Pentecostal Bible Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama. In addition, he earned leadership certificates from several vocational schools and other such institutions as Essex Community College and Washington University.
The Kingdom assignment as Apostolic Father and Presiding Prelate Emeritus keeps Bishop Nelson, Sr., busier now than before. He is continually in high demand globally to mentor, mediate, preach and teach The Word of the Lord.
The world crowns the success of a man, but God crowns his faithfulness. To God Be the Glory!