The illustrious singing of the “Goodness of God” by the vibrant choir filled the church hall as Jamaican-born Rev. Dr. Clive E. Neil, arrived with his family to celebrate 35 years of pastoral anniversary service at Bedford Central Presbyterian Church, in Brooklyn.
The Nov. 12 worship before a packed congregation was a crowning moment for the brilliant and dedicated clergy, described as a beloved, esteemed pastor. “We thank God for this day in God’s house where we honor a man of God,” said a member.
“Together we bring praise to the Lord, he is worthy to be praised. We will lift our voices in Thanksgiving to give praise for reverend Dr. Clive E. Neil, thank you for his love, for his commitment, thank you for his dedication over the years, he didn’t just get started but he’s not finished yet.”
“Let there be a blessing that makes him rich and adds no sorrow as we honor him in this service. We recognize that it has been 35 years of your grace and your mercy therefore we ascribe to your adoration, wisdom, and power,” said another worshiper.
‘Shaping a Legacy of Leadership and Service in Love in Action,’ were the words that highlighted the exceptional service Pastor Neil has brought to the church, and Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke highlighted in her praise for the clergy, saying, “I have been blessed to have doctor Neil adopted by my mother the Honorable Dr. Una Clarke. He excelled in high school, which earned him the opportunity to attend Eastern University at Saint David PA, graduating with honors.”
“Dr. Neil was awarded a Princeton University fellowship and later graduated with a master’s in divinity in 1991. Dr. Neil received his doctorate and counseling from Drew University in Madison NJ.”
“The subject of his dissertation was developing healthy interpersonal relationships, she said, praising Dr. Neil as an example of faith, one of his greatest strengths during his college years.
Clarke said the pastor was called from the world of science into the ministry of gospel in 1985 and became an ordained Presbyterian minister and began his pastorship at Tremont Presbyterian Church, Bronx NY where he served faithfully from 1985 to 1988.
The politician went on to say, God joined together the ministry of the congregation of Bedford Central Presbyterian Church and the ministering gifts of Dr. Neil to create a dynamic Christ-centered, Bible-believing people, building a community church. “Reverend doctor Neil has led by example because faith combined with knowledge, equals power over the past 35 years,” added Congresswoman Clarke.
House Minority Leader, Hakeem Jeffries, blessed congregants and acknowledged Congresswoman Clarke and guest speaker, Bryan Stevenson, his former law professor, and called Dr. Rev. Neil’s 35 years of service incredible.
“What an honor and a blessing to be back with you on this incredible occasion. It’s just good to be home in Brooklyn and y’all know whenever I’m home in Brooklyn I like to be amongst the people of God and I can think of no better place to be when seeking to be amongst the people of God than right here at Bedford Central,” said Congressman Jeffries.
“At Bedford Central you have a new school pastor with Old Testament flavor. Dr. Neil’s got the wisdom of David, the courage of Joshua and he’s good-looking like Joseph, we’re so thankful for Dr. Neil. He is a good man, a hardworking man, a family man, a well-educated man, a community man, an enlightened man, a praying man, a preaching man, a prophetic man, a bow tie wearing man, and a mighty man of God,” expressed Congressman Jeffries.
“Above all else we’re so thankful for the reverend doctor Clive Neil and all that he’s done for the church in our community over 35 years, during challenging times in America and throughout the world.”
“We’ve got some folks in this country who want to turn back the clock, to divide us, but we serve a good God and in Washington we’re going to continue to put people over politics and to fight for lower costs, better paying jobs, safer communities, defend democracy and make sure that no one touches your Social Security or your Medicare, not now, not ever,” said Jeffries.
“Congresswoman Clarke and I are public servants but we both grew up in the church and we recognize that ultimately, we answer to only one authority, almighty God.”
“I’m thankful on this anniversary Sunday that it’s our father in heaven who has the power to transform and because we serve such a good God and have such a good man as your pastor after 35 years, I’m convinced that the best is yet to come. Happy anniversary,” said the politician.
Best-selling author of “Just Mercy,” Bryan Stevenson, a college friend of Dr. Neil’s, during his powerful message as guest speaker, shared of bonding with Dr. Neil in college, and singing together in the choir, applauded the clergy, saying, “wherever Clive Neal went he came with joy, with love, with enthusiasm, and with compassion.”
“And even at that age you could tell he was destined to be the kind of leader to inspire others, so to be here and to see all the great things that he has done is such a blessing for me. I love you Clive,” said Stevenson, the award-winning Harvard educated, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a human rights organization in Montgomery, Alabama.
Stevenson, referred to scripture to describe the troubling times in America. “There is great conflict and division, we’re living at a time when there’s a lot of fear and anger in the world. I’ve been reading the prophets recently that talked about conflict and controversy, where people of faith are losing their way.
“God requires us to do justice. I see so much poverty and despair. This country has changed,” said Stevenson who has argued and won multiple cases at the US Supreme Court, including a 2019 ruling protecting condemned prisoners who suffer from dementia and a landmark 2012 ruling that banned mandatory life-imprisonment-without parole sentences for all children 17 or younger.
Judge Lisa Lewis was also in the congregation.