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 attended by Jay. There have been high numbers of camps and churches staffed by Jay as well. As a thrill-seeker, there have been many adventure courses, canoe trips, ropes courses, climbing walls, and rappelling adventures too.
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 is completing two masters programs (at BTSR and Virginia Commonwealth University). Kelli works where the McNeals worship, at Richmond’s 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 were looking for individual faith leaders. The public wants to warm up to their faith leader individually, not when the faith leader is wrapped in their institutional religion. So Jay launched a ministry to bring faith leaders back to the general public in a way that the general public wants to find faith leaders.
With new names and logos, United Faith Leaders and The Coffeepot Fellowship Podcast met the public for the first time in the autumn of 2015. Jay continues to interview 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.