Rev. Dr. Clive Neil started his journey unknowingly as a young boy when he went to Iona High School, a private Christian school in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
At the end of his high school years Neil applied to college in the United States. He entered Eastern University in Pennsylvania — also a Christian school — with the intention of pursuing an undergraduate degree in biology, as all his aspirations at this time were on becoming a scientist.
“I used to collect insects, hundreds of them. I intersected them and kept them in a jar for days,” Dr. Neil said.
But it was while working as a Christian educator for a summer camp managed by the church that he discovered his stellar social skills. Others noticed as well, and encouraged him to enter the ministry.
The knowledge and experience he gained at the camp opened his mind and heart to a challenge very few people undertake in their life time. Dr. Neil completed his double major in biology and philosophy and applied to Princeton University in New Jersey for a Masters in Divinity, at its Theological Seminary.
After completing the program, Dr. Neil accepted a call from the Tremont Presbyterian Church in the Bronx to serve as the church’s minister, where he stayed for three and a half years before returning to Princeton University for a Masters in Counselling. He completed his doctorate at Drew University, in New Jersey.
Dr. Neil has spent 30 years as the senior minister of the acclaimed and renowned Bedford Central Presbyterian Church in Crown Heights. What has kept him at the church for all these years is what inspired him to enter the ministry all those years ago: “people skills.”
“I am missionary-minded — we have sponsored more than 1,000 trips to Haiti and Rwanda to help children with education, health, and food. We serve as missionaries in Jamaica, Grenada, and Guyana.”
On several of these trips, children in Jamaica received electronic tablets to help with their homework.
Dr. Neil believes in helping the young people of his community. He has established a youth ministry that caters to the youth at Bedford Central Presbyterian Church, has created a Christian counseling ministry group to work with the young members, and has established a library and an after-school program.