Jay McNeal was born in 1972 and ordained in 2013. Some of the events between those years were as follows. He was raised in Binghamton, NY. He received a bachelor of science in civil engineering and economics from Union College in Schenectady, NY, and a master of arts in teaching from Marywood University in Scranton, PA. Jay then joined the U.S. Army’s Light Infantry where he was rapidly promoted from rifleman to team leader to armorer to an officer in the chaplain candidate program.
Jay’s pull to attend seminary began before college and hasn’t gone away even after graduating. Jay studied in the master of divinity programs at Union Presbyterian Seminary (PCUSA), St. Paul School of Theology (United Methodist), and Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. He was ordained May 25, 2013 when he graduated from BTSR.
Throughout all of his pursuits of higher education, Jay has always been a working man. Jobs have ranged from retail to food service, insurance to construction. Leadership training events and conferences have dotted Jay’s path, as have camps and churches Jay has both worked and attended. As a thrill-seeker, there have been many adventure courses, canoe trips, ropes courses, climbing walls, and rappelling adventures.
On staff at Union Presbyterian Seminary’s is where Jay met and proposed to his fellow student worker, Kelli Eck. The McNeals tied the knot August 1st, 2015. Kelli completed her two masters programs (at BTSR and Virginia Commonwealth University) in 2018. Kelli is now the Director of Congregational Life at the Columbus First Unitarian Universalist Church.
In 2014 Rev. McNeal observed the problem that faith leaders did not exist in one accessible database, they could only be found through their specific denominations or churches. He discovered that people in the general public, especially postmodernists, preferred to know individual faith leaders. The public wants to warm up to the individual faces and stories of faith leaders, not when the faith leaders are wrapped in their institutional religion. So Jay launched United Faith Leaders as a ministry to bring faith leaders to the general public in a way that the general public wants to find them.
United Faith Leaders and The Coffeepot Fellowship Podcast met the public for the first time in the autumn of 2015. Jay interviews diverse leaders on the podcast and has created a body of work that helps people all around the world, of all ages and faith traditions, who know or wonder “Who is God?” If you haven’t indulged in The Coffeepot Fellowship Daily Podcast you can check it out here.
From 2018 to 2020 Jay immersed himself in professional training as a chaplain, called Clinical Pastoral Education. Jay was employed as a chaplain at Lucy Corr retirement community while taking CPE at Caring Community Ministry Education. Then Jay was employed at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center while taking CPE in a 12-month chaplain residency. Today Jay serves as a Family Support Coordinator helping people save lives through the gift of organ, eye and tissue donation at Lifeline of Ohio. Rev. Jay implores everyone to immediately communicate to several generations that you wish to be an unrestricted donor. This will not impact desired memorial services or cost anything. More than 100,000 Americans are waiting for a transplant to save their life and 20 people on that list pass away every day while waiting. From dust we were made and to dust we shall return. These gifts are often buried in haste because families are in grief, medical records don’t include people’s decisions, and people’s driver’s license may not indicate (yet) their wishes to gift their otherwise unusable bodies before memorial services or cremations. Many people incorrectly assume that age (young or older) or poor health would prohibit their donation when one or more lives could have been saved with their help. In this way we can all attempt to be loving sisters and brothers to one another regardless what may otherwise divide us.