Darris McNeely grew up in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, a small town on the banks of the Mississippi River 125 miles south of St. Louis, Missouri.
From an early age he worked around his father, a veteran of Omaha Beach during World War II, in his Texaco gas station. "From him I learned a work ethic and an appreciation for those who labor with their hands," Mr. McNeely said. "From my mother, who grew up during the Depression, I learned a compassion for those with little." Both of his parents were of Scotch-Irish descent. His mother began reading The Plain Truth magazine in the early 1960s, and it was through her teaching and example that he became a part of the Church of God.
Mr. McNeely attended Ambassador College in Pasadena, California, from 1970 to 1973. In 1973 he married Debra Detwiler. Her parents came into the Church in Ohio in the mid-1960s. She comes from a Mennonite background. The McNeelys have two grown sons, Christopher and Ryan. Ryan and his wife, Stephanie, are members of UCG. The McNeelys have two grandchildren.
Mr. McNeely has spent 35 years in the full-time ministry. The past 18 years they have lived in Indianapolis, Indiana, pastoring churches there and in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
"Besides the daily care of the churches, I have spent these years working in two areas that have given me great satisfaction—youth work and media," said Mr. McNeely. He has been on teams that developed two major youth initiatives in God's Church, YOU and UYC. For the past 12 years in United he has been involved in media efforts such as World News and Prophecy (as managing editor) and Beyond Today (host).
Mr. McNeely now works at the UCG home office in the Media Department.
"Through these years Debbie and I have worked as a team," Mr. McNeely said. "Anything I have done has had the benefit of her wisdom, counsel and intelligence behind it. It would be difficult for me to distinguish between what is mine and hers; it has been a team ministry."
In May the General Conference of Elders selected Mr. McNeely to serve on the Council of Elders. "I look forward to working with the Council of Elders in meeting the critical needs of preaching the gospel and caring for those God calls to His Church," he said. "We are building on a heritage of many fine and dedicated people who have gone before us. It is a privilege to work in a senior leadership role for the Church at this exciting time in its history."