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Q&A: Brenda Salter McNeil on Her Journey Into Ministry, Reconciliation Risks, and Becoming Brave Like Esther

The Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil serves as associate professor of Reconciliation Studies in the School of Theology at Seattle Pacific University. McNeil is also the associate pastor of Preaching & Reconciliation at Quest Church in Seattle, Washington. Her ministry, shaped by the necessity and vision of reconciliation, has led her to write several books on the topic including Roadmap to Reconciliation 2.0: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice. An ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church, McNeil earned degrees from Rutgers University, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Palmer Theological Seminary.

Faithfully Magazine spoke with McNeil over the phone regarding her journey into ministry, racial reconciliation, and her latest book, Becoming Brave: Finding the Courage to Pursue Racial Justice Now. The transcript has been edited for clarity.

Can you tell us about your faith journey and your call to ministry?

I became a Christian when I was 19 years old at Rutgers University. Though I had been a part of a family that went to church pretty regularly, faithfully… I didn’t understand the whole notion of conversion because it seemed as if going to church as a family was what it meant to be a Christian. It wasn’t until I got to college that I met a couple people in my dormitory who lived this thing all the time, 24/7, not just on Sundays. And it captured me and showed the gap between what I understood Christianity to be and what it was that I saw them embodying.

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Timothy I. Cho
Timothy I. Cho
Timothy Isaiah Cho is Associate Editor at Faithfully Magazine. Timothy’s bylines have appeared in Religion News Service and Reformed Margins, and he has been interviewed for several podcasts including Truth’s Table and Gravity Leadership Podcast. He also runs a personal blog on Medium. He received a Master of Divinity from Westminster Seminary California and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from U.C. Berkeley. Email: timothy.cho (at)

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