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Dr. Jerome McNeil (pictured), leader of the historic 150-year-old Dallas institution the Christian Chapel Temple of Faith CME Church, preached his usual passionate and animated sermon on Sunday morning, exited his pulpit, then, seconds later, collapsed and died in the sanctuary, reports the Daily Mail.

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McNeil, who was 63-years-young, was the senior pastor of the one of the oldest African-American churches in Dallas for more than 20 years.  Under his leadership, the church’s membership grew to more than 7,000, making it one of the largest in the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) denomination.

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McNeil ‘s life served as a testament of hard work and dedication.  He held a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and used it to serve troubled youths and families in crisis.  McNeil was hired as the highest-ranking African American in Dallas County in 1981, when he was named Assistant Director for the Dallas County Juvenile Department.

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In 1983, he became the first African-American Family Court Investigator and Counselor for Dallas County.

McNeil’s sweeping ministry included being a founding member of the African-American Pastors Coalition and serving on the executive board of the Texas Alliance for Good Government.  He was appointed by late-Governor Ann Richards to serve on the Texas Marriage and Family Licensing Board for a 3-year term.

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McNeil was also a board member of Philips School of Theology in Atlanta, an adjunct faculty member at the school of social work at the University of Houston and the University of Texas at Arlington, and an instructor at Texas College in Tyler.

The man who was a nationally known evangelist, counselor, teacher, speaker, and author had a passion for helping those in need.  Ironically, before his unexpected demise, McNeil passed a plaque next to his pulpit that read, “Preach as never to preach again. As a dying man to dying men,” which was a quote by the 16th century English church leader Richard Baxter.

And McNeil did just that right up until his end.

The passionate preacher leaves behind his wife, Billye, of 39 years and two daughters, Charla and Vanita.  McNeil’s celebration of life services have been held every day, starting Wednesday with the final one slated for Saturday at his home church.

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