#49 A “DOCTORAL” ROBE BUT NO EARRING
Vernon M. Herron
The Rev. Dr. Charles McNeil
Recently, I was unduly happy to have received an announcement/invitation to the Installation and Banquet for the Rev. Dr. Charles McNeil, Sr. as the new Senior Pastor of the Transfiguration Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My “adopted” son has become a promising local pastor, community leader and a destined world citizen. Let me “back up” to give you the historic context of my relationship with seven boys being reared in Philadelphia by single parents.
When I served on the ministerial staff of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Philadelphia, I assumed a fatherly leadership role with approximately seven boys who were being reared in homes by single parents. Often, small meaningful jobs were provided and religious, racial and educational issues were raised and discussed within the context of the Christian faith. We constantly met at church where we often held our sessions before, during and after services.
One day an “outsider” who was a friend of “the boys” joined us in worship. He was immaculately dressed with an earring in his ear. His apparel was quite noticeable, which brought about a discussion once the guest had gone.
I distinctively remembered an inquiry as to whether the group should be influenced by the wearing of an “earring” in one ear as this “fade” was beginning its promotion. Noting that wearing such apparel has implication of an alternate life style, and that even though some successful black business men with wealth were doing so, the boys all looked to me for a response. I simply said, “if you as a male, wear an earring, Wall Street will not hire you.” That seemed to have settled the question. I never heard it discussed any more nor did I ever see any one of the seven wearing an earring.
Of the seven boys, I lost contact with two; one became an electrician; one a family man, Reginald Russell; one, a manager of a school project for the University of Pennsylvania, Maurice Fluellen; one was featured in my blog #43 as a Government Analyst in the Corporate Department of Shire Pharmaceuticals, Donnell Sheppard and the seventh one is the Rev. Dr. Charles McNeil.
At an early age, Charles became a Christian, was baptized, licensed to preach and was ordained in and by the historic Shiloh Baptist Church in Philadelphia, PA. He serves on the board of directors for New Life Youth and Family Services in Harleysville, Pennsylvania; the Black American Legacy League in Philadelphia; and the Youth Leadership Development Programs, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois. He is also a founding member of NewCORE (A New Conversation on Race and Ethnicity), Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, The Baptist Pastors and Ministers Conference of Philadelphia and Vicinity.
Currently, Dr. McNeil serves as the Executive Director for Church Partnerships and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University. He earned a Doctor of Ministry and Master of Divinity Degree from Palmer Theological Seminary; a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Organizational Leadership from Eastern University; and an Associates of Arts Degree in Specialized Technology from the Arts Institute of Philadelphia. In 1990, he founded Brothers United Basketball Fellowship, a sports ministry that ministers to hundreds of men through basketball, and is the founder/director of Inner-City Arts Program, Inc. He is currently developing a mentoring program for African-American boys, while collaborating on a book referencing the black church. His dissertation focused on the survival of black urban churches in a time of gentrification.
Dr. McNeil is married to Angela (Senior). They have three lovely children: 15 year-old Ayanna: 13 year-old Charles, Jr.: and 7 year-old Malaika.
I am proud of Charles. It was a long and hard struggle for him, his mother and his family yet he made it. Now he wears a “doctoral” robe (earned), and NO EARRING.
Congratulation and keep going!