The Rev. Wayne Meisel

Denomination: Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA)

The Rev. Wayne Meisel is the Director of the Center for Faith and Service at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL. The Center develops programs through partnerships with local congregations and national church offices for a generation defined by their commitment to service and justice. The Center also seeks to renew theological education through collective efforts to recruit, train and launch individuals into both traditional and new forms of ministry. 

Prior to this position, he served as the Director of Faith and Service at the Cousins Foundation in Atlanta, GA. and was the founding President of the Bonner Foundation. As a Presidential appointee to the Commission on National and Community Service, Meisel served as one of the architects of the AmeriCorps programs and also as a charter board member of Teach for America. 

He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church and describes himself as an AmeriCorps Chaplain.

Articles by The Rev. Wayne Meisel

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Wayne Meisel: First Job Out of College: 7 Things to Consider

Tuesday December 26, 2017
People often ask me what my most important career choice has been. That answer is surprisingly: it was my decision to do a year of service after I graduated from college. My year of service impacted every major part of my life and defined my career trajectory.

Wayne Meisel: Before the Dawn: The Advent of Hope, Justice and Joy - Advent Calendar

Tuesday December 05, 2017
I had a high school history teacher who lived by clichés. One of his favorites was, 'the darkest hour was just before the dawn.' I remember him using the phrase over and over again while we were studying the 100 Years War. At the time, I thought to myself, 'Wow, it took a long time for the dawn to arrive.'

Wayne Meisel: Tradition and Innovation: Seminaries that Change the World, Class of 2017-18

Wednesday November 15, 2017
In the nearly twenty years since I graduated from seminary and the world has changed significantly, but the need for leaders trained to think theologically has not.

Wayne Meisel: Profile in Ministry - Ryan Hurst Carter: A Life Cut Short But A Legacy That Lives Long

Wednesday August 30, 2017
People are starting to head back to campus to begin the new school year. Most conversations will start with 'How was your summer?' and they’ll include tales of summer jobs, internships, travel, sunburns, and adventures. While most will be generally sunny stories, for many in the service community, it’s been a hard summer....

Wayne Meisel: Where Leadership Thrives: Summer Camp and the Hope for the World

Friday June 23, 2017
As the world tilts towards chaos and we stare down global uncertainty, it is not the mighty armies that make that make me feel safe. Nor does the knowledge coming out of universities bring me peace. Instead, I take solace in the fact that at this very moment, summer camps are preparing to open for business.

Wayne Meisel: Reunion Reflections: Questions to Ask Classmates and Yourself When you Return to Campus

Wednesday June 07, 2017
School reunions are often held in the summer. The thought of reunions invokes a certain curiosity; for others panic. What are classmates up to? Who has kept their youthful looks? Their youthful spirit? Will your spouse/partner join you? The decision can cause so much stress that it is often one of the questions I ask when administering pre-marital counseling.

Wayne Meisel: If…then… Let the Commencement (Speeches) Begin!

Friday May 19, 2017
Last weekend marked the beginning of college graduations, and with them, another season of commencement speeches. Being asked to deliver a commencement speech is the greatest honor an institution can bestow. But listening to one, is, by definition, drudgery. Commencement speakers are only memorable if they say something unforgivable.

Wayne Meisel: The Myth of Trump Country: Repairing the Breach

Saturday April 08, 2017
Yes, most of West Virginia voted for Trump. But the people there are more than who they voted for. What I realized was that I was part of vilifying an entire group people without understating that it was destroying myself.

Wayne Meisel: Giving on the Streets: Wine, The Pope, and Doing What is ”˜Always Right’

Wednesday March 29, 2017
It’s easy to find Scripture to stand for or against a particular issue or activity. The challenge is that sometimes scripture contradicts itself. Other times, its position is unclear. And sometimes, it’s just strange. Take Proverbs 31:6-8: 'Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.'

Wayne Meisel: Giving on the Streets: Wine, The Pope, and Doing What is ”˜Always Right’

Thursday March 23, 2017
Whenever I hear someone cite scripture to make or prove a point I don't agree with, I think of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, when Antonia states, 'The Devil can cite scripture for his purpose.'

Wayne Meisel: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and the Intersection of Faith and Service

Monday January 16, 2017
What I like best about Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is that it is a day on, not a day off.

Wayne Meisel: Herlong Redemption: A Story of Christmas

Thursday December 22, 2016
As I approach my thirty-fifth college reunion this spring, I’ve made a point of reaching out to classmates as I travel across the country for my work. With a great sense of anticipation and joy, we celebrate stories of success and comfort each other in our struggles. This past week, there was a friend I had not seen since graduation who I wanted to connect with. So I made the journey to see him, and making work visits along the way.

Wayne Meisel: Be the Light: The Advent Calendar of Hope, Justice and Joy

Tuesday November 29, 2016
The hospitality of Thanksgiving prepares the way for the beginning of Advent, which lightens our path to Christmas. Advent may seem like it came early, but I’m glad its here.

Wayne Meisel: Think, Pray, Vote

Tuesday November 08, 2016
Whenever I hear someone refer to the 'Christan vote' I cringe. As if all Christians think – let alone vote – the same way.

Wayne Meisel: Theological Education Week: A Call to Conversations about Call

Tuesday October 25, 2016
A single conversation can change your life. It happened to me when I was in my early thirties: One Sunday after church, I saw Wallace Alston, the senior pastor of Nassau Presbyterian Church approaching me. Hoping I wasn’t Alston’s intended conversation target, I made several moves to the left and the right. My attempts at avoiding eye contact didn’t shake him. It was clear he wanted to talk to me.

Wayne Meisel: What We Love About This Year’s Seminaries that Change the World

Saturday September 17, 2016
This week the Center for Faith and Service announced the fourth annual list of Seminaries that Change the World. While the STCTW website provides an in-depth exploration of each school and their programs, I thought I would share some of my favorite things about each school on this year’s list...

Wayne Meisel: Suicide, Job Loss, & The Vulnerability Of Men In Their 50s

Sunday August 21, 2016
Twelve months ago, my friend Pat took his life by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. I never imagined that something like that could happen. In April, I’d spoken at the 10th anniversary of his program at work. In May, I’d presented him with a national award. On the last day of June, I’d spoken at his retirement party. In July, I was preparing his memorial service.

Wayne Meisel: Why Summer Camp Transforms: Stillness in the Midst of Movement

Sunday June 26, 2016
There’s often a language barrier of sorts between people who went to summer camp and those who did not. Those who did not are often confused by the way former campers talk about their summers, about how they grew up and how camp was a defining experience in their lives. Not high school, not the local congregation, not college... but summer camp. So what is it about summer camp that makes it so special?

Wayne Meisel: Beyond Divestment: Global Warming, Trauma And The Call For Pastoral Care

Thursday June 23, 2016
Leaders of the Presbyterian Church USA are convening this week in Portland, Oregon for their bi-annual gathering known as General Assembly. At most events like this, there is often one topic that captures the headlines; topics and issues which are often controversial and potentially divisive. For Presbyterians at this year’s General Assembly, climate change and divestment from fossil fuels is taking center stage.

Wayne Meisel: A College Reunion Blessing

Saturday May 28, 2016
For the first twenty years, my experience at my college reunions were what I expected and hoped they would be: a good time where I would see old friends and meet peers who I had missed the first time around...

Wayne Meisel: No Ordinary Time: A Call to Awareness and Action

Thursday May 26, 2016
In my search for practices on how to make this journey for the next six months, I came across Lacy Clark Ellman, who describes “10 practices to make ordinary time extraordinary.”

Wayne Meisel: Idealism Is the Nature of Youth

Sunday May 15, 2016
In the mid nineteen-eighties, a group of recent college graduates decided to challenge the negative sterotypes that society had about young people, and young people had about themselves. In an effort to relaunch a student movement based on community service, a handful of us - a motley group for sure - launched COOL, The Campus Outreach Opportunity League.

Wayne Meisel: The Road to Pentecost: Lent is over, Easter has arrived. Now what?

Wednesday March 30, 2016
Easter has arrived and the long journey of Lent is over. At church on Sunday, Pastor Dave proclaimed, 'Christ has Risen.' The congregations responded in unison: 'he has risen indeed.' Now it’s time to celebrate. Or is it?

Wayne Meisel: Connecting Mental Health and Justice for All

Thursday March 24, 2016
Growing up, I didn’t know what 'mental health issues' were. I knew of families that had children and siblings who were institutionalized for schizophrenia and other unnamed mental disorders. But the generally held assumption was that if you couldn’t see it (like a broken bone) it must not be all that bad. It never occurred to me that depression wasn’t something someone could just fix on their own.

Wayne Meisel: When Service and Death Collide: Transcending Tragedy - A Call for a National Service Memorial

Friday February 19, 2016
A defining moment of my childhood was the night my father left and returned with tears in his eyes for a closed-door conversation with my mother. No one talked to us kids, but we figured it out (as kids almost always do): my dad had accompanied an army official to let a member of his congregation know that his son, who was serving in Vietnam, had been killed in action.

Wayne Meisel: National Service Chaplains: A Call to Congregations Serving Those Who Serve

Thursday December 31, 2015
A lament I hear over and over again is that young people don't come to church. The question we should be asking is: How can we reach out to these young people who are committed to our communities and who are looking for ways to serve, to engage in interfaith dialogue, and to determine their own relationships with the creator.

Wayne Meisel: An Advent Calendar of Hope, Justice and Joy: For the Church, Theological Education and the World

Friday December 04, 2015
In Advent, this season before Christmas, we build toward something, searching on the page of the calendar to find what we're looking, waiting and hoping for. The seminary students and recent graduates we work with bring joy, justice and hope.

Wayne Meisel: The Dawn of a New School Year: Four Questions to Ask and to Live Into

Sunday September 06, 2015
All across the country students have begun to gather begin something new, the start a school year. There will be all kinds of new events planned, orientations held, surveys administered. In the midst of all that planning, just remember, sometimes the question you ask are more powerful and important than the answers you give.

Wayne Meisel: Camp Counselor as Modern-Day Superhero: Summer Camps that Change the World

Wednesday June 03, 2015
The second best day of my life was when I got out of school for the summer. The best day was when my parents would pack my brothers and me in the white Mercury station wagon and drive us up the New York Freeway to drop us off at camp, where I would spend the happiest and most formative days of my childhood.

Wayne Meisel: Tattoos and Theological Education: In Common Cause to Change the World

Wednesday March 04, 2015
I noticed a young woman who had tattooed on her left arm in bold letters: "Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with God." So I asked her, "Tell me about your tattoo." Her face lit up and for the next ten minutes she talked and talked.

Wayne Meisel: Lent: A Time to "Take In" and Not Just "Give Up"

Sunday February 22, 2015
This Lent, giving up chips doesn't seem to cut it. Not with the constant violence in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world. Not with the trial of young adults in Mississippi who tortured and killed an innocent black man. Not when young children of God are murdered, and rather than mourning this horrifying loss we consume ourselves with debating whether or not it was a hate crime.

Wayne Meisel: Rough, Intimate, Tragic, Redemptive: 'Calvary' and the Call to Ministry

Friday January 02, 2015
'Calvary,' recently released on DVD, is about pain, suffering and brokenness in community. It is about ministry. It is the story of a village where abusers, victims, white-collar criminals, lost souls, incompetent colleagues, suicide survivors and lonely hearts all reside in close proximity.

Wayne Meisel: Ministry in the Margins: The Good, the Bad, and the Awesome

Tuesday August 05, 2014
"Who in their right mind would want to be a minister?" It's a question I hear a lot nowadays, especially with news reports about how many in ministry experience low pay, high burnout and potential unemployment.

Wayne Meisel: Big Thaw: How Resistance to Gay Marriage Melted in the Detroit Heat

Tuesday July 01, 2014
I had been dreading General Assembly, the same way one dreads a family reunion that is sure to be contentious and cantankerous. But it wasn't. Instead, our time together was filled with inspiring preaching, civil conversations and peaceful meals. The shift was on.

Wayne Meisel: Where Faith Still Thrives! Summer Camps and the Future of the Church

Thursday June 05, 2014
What was the most significant institution in my faith development? The obvious answer would be Sunday School and church youth group, or perhaps, my college chaplain's office. You might think it surely had to be the venerable Princeton Theological Seminary. Nope. The answer: Camp Dudley, a YMCA camp located on the banks of Lake Champlain in the Adirondack Mountains.

Wayne Meisel: Easter: Opening Day for Reclaiming the Radical Message of the Gospel

Thursday April 17, 2014
Baseball officially began at the beginning of the month, but for Christians, the new season begins this Sunday morning.

Wayne Meisel: Lent: Spring Training for Christians

Sunday March 09, 2014
Anyone who knows me knows that I take Lent seriously. Lent is a defining part of my life, shaped by practice and discovery over time. In college, I started 'giving up things' which marked the beginning of my reLENT list. Every year I would add an additional item to give up.

Wayne Meisel: Where Faith Meets Justice: Jobs That Will Change You and Your World

Thursday February 13, 2014
FAITH3 has just launched a website that identifies and celebrates twenty groups that recruit, hire and train individuals who want to make a difference in the world, including their own.

Wayne Meisel: Profiles in Ministry: Jim McCloskey, A Champion for the Wrongly Accused

Thursday February 06, 2014
Meet Jim McCloskey, the founder of Centurion Ministries, a non-profit that works to free persons who have been wrongly convicted. Jim and his colleagues have helped to free 53 individuals who collectively have spent more than 1,080 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.

Wayne Meisel: 11 Myths about Going to Seminary

Thursday December 05, 2013
Why does going to seminary carry so much weight, a kind of baggage that students in other graduate programs don't have to shoulder? There are certain assumptions that go along with attending seminary; for a long time they kept me from really exploring the idea.

Wayne Meisel: Seminaries that Change the World: A Growing List of Transitioning Institutions for Transformational Times

Wednesday November 20, 2013
Question: Where do you go to graduate school if you want to change the world? Answer: Yale Law School, Harvard School of Education, Stanford School of Business, the Wagner School of Public Service at NYU, Wesley Seminary or Vanderbilt Divinity School. Wait, What? Seminary? Divinity School? How did they get on that list? Seminaries and Divinity schools across the country are attracting, training and launching some of the most excited, committed and creative leaders in our society today.

Wayne Meisel: Government's off, Soup's on!

Friday October 04, 2013
Just because the government can't bridge gridlock doesn't mean that we can't break bread together. Time for a Soup-in!

Wayne Meisel: SERV: From Random Acts of Kindness to Strategic Engagement for Social Justice

Thursday September 26, 2013
Students from across the country will gather at Princeton Theological Seminary to reclaim and rebuild a seminary student movement that is rooted in service, advocacy, faithfulness, prayer and community.

Wayne Meisel: Homecoming Sunday: When Opening Our Doors Isn't Enough

Friday September 13, 2013
Why isn't the church reaching out, and supporting, and loving on the Millennials?

Wayne Meisel: National Service: A Game Plan for the Church

Sunday July 21, 2013
Time magazine recently highlighted a report that appropriately proclaims the need for national service and the role that it can and must play in our society. The church has a critical role to play in achieving these social advances.

Wayne Meisel: Wake Up Church: National Service and the Crossroads of Faith and Justice

Monday July 08, 2013
The church needs to wake up and meet the national service movement where it is. It is time to stop bemoaning the loss of the prominent public voice we once had, and start participating in the service movement as something beyond our efforts to control.

The Rev. Wayne Meisel - Students Cross Country to Show What's Possible through Seminary Education -

Saturday June 15, 2013
What grad schools offer some of the best financial aid packages and have graduates with the lowest debt levels? Where do you find professors who immerse themselves in issues like food security, human rights, immigration and prison reform and teach classes about them? What graduate schools attract a diverse group of students who are preparing for courageous roles in society and are committed to systemic social change? Answer: seminaries and divinity schools.

Wayne Meisel: A Summer Read for Change--"Cut Dead But Still Alive"

Thursday May 23, 2013
This book may not be a bestseller on the New York Times list. But it must be required reading for seminarians, pastors or community leader who want to bring their pastoral care to our most challenged populations.

Wayne Meisel: Changing Theological Education: Reforming from the Bottom Up

Tuesday April 09, 2013
I am no seminary consultant. I am certainly no expert. But I have spent the past several years visiting seminaries and divinity schools around the country in an effort to better understand them and find ways to strengthen them. What I have discovered is a contrast of great challenges and powerful hope.

Wayne Meisel: Opening 1,000 Doors: Houses of Hospitality and the Promise, Requirement and Hope of the Church

Monday March 18, 2013
If you're young and idealistic, engaged and committed, and want to serve full time in the community, there are three basic things that you will need...

Wayne Meisel: Lights, Camera...Church! Lifting Up the Prophetic Voice of Film

Tuesday March 05, 2013
My father provided a prophetic voice in his preaching -- sometimes with the help of a tale of heartbreak or redemption he had seen at the movies. At the heart of this, though, was an ability to challenge people to become aware, to become educated and to engage. That is what many do from the pulpit and it is what many documentary filmmakers are doing now.

Wayne Meisel: 'Everybody Can Be Great, Because Anybody Can Serve"

Monday January 21, 2013
This quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. may be the defining quote in today's community service movement. His words endure and his presence is still felt.

Wayne Meisel: 'Tis the Start Looking for a Job with a Faith-Based Service

Thursday January 10, 2013
Back when I graduated from college (yes, a long, long time ago) service jobs were few and far between, mainly available through the Peace Corps or VISTA. Today, however, the environment is different. There are tens of thousands of service jobs available.

Wayne Meisel: Let Us Break Bread Together: Table Talk on Thursdays

Sunday January 06, 2013
A year from now, when we're in the midst of Advent, let's have more than 100 congregations and other groups follow Wesley Seminary's lead and gather folks around the table for food, fellowship and conversation.

Wayne Meisel: Faith and Service: Healing the Great Divorce

Saturday December 01, 2012
I have an older friend who is very concerned about the future of the church and the need for talented individuals who will lead it for the next 50 years. Every time we meet he asks the same question: Why are you always talking about service and not about faith? He has a point.