Samuel Morris Hall — a hall whose third iteration was established in 1998 and that is home to an estimated quantity of 280 students — welcomed David Neel (’15) as its new hall director this fall.
Long before his position as hall director, studies and work in ministry, Neel was a student at Taylor from 2012 to 2015 and a dormitory resident of the Brotherhood, also known as “Broho.”
Neel reflected on the impact that Taylor and Morris had on his life, having a love for what he experienced and what became of his life from there on out. It was here that Neel felt called to ministry and met his wife.
“I’m so thankful for my time at Taylor,” Neel said.
Neel earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in international studies and cross-cultural ministry, and soon after, earned his Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary.
Though he had been certain of his goal to pursue a career in ministry, he was unsure of which path to take in such a large field.
“I’ve spent the last seven years as a pastor at various churches across Indiana and Kentucky, and as an Asbury alum., I was made aware of the Asbury revival that was going on last year,” Neel said. “So, my wife and I went down to Asbury, and we felt God was calling us to do more to pour into and care for and develop this next generation of people who are deeply hungry for something more.”
He then heard God’s calling toward Taylor when some friends reached out to him, letting him know that the position of the Samuel Morris hall director was open.
The two people who had contacted Neel and his wife were former Campus Pastor (now counselor) John Cavanagh and Lyndsey VanSingel. Through prayer, Neel finally made the decision to apply.
He accepted the position with hopes of witnessing the Taylor community from a new lens of leadership.
“I have a deep care for, and I’m so interested in this generation and how they’re just searching for truth and searching for something more in an authentic faith,” Neel said. “I think that’s what makes me so enamored…to be part of helping this generation find Christ.”
As a campus leader, Neel carries on the same responsibilities as his predecessor, former Morris Hall Director Josiah Peterson, to whom Neel gives his gratitude.
He believes that Peterson left him with the best Personnel Assistant (PA) and Discipleship Assistant (DA) staff.
“Most of my time is spent in meetings with the residents, as well as the PAs and DAs, trying to help support them and care for them,” Neel said. “Give them what they need as they spend time caring for the men of Morris.”
Neel lives with his wife, Kaitlin, who is also a Taylor alumna and graduated with a degree in marketing management and systems. She is now the assistant director at the Calling and Career Office (CCO) located in the Student Center.
The couple has a four-year-old poodle dog named Judah, whom Neel calls the assistant hall director. Many of the hall’s residents even offer to take Judah out for a walk.
Neel’s perspective on Morris Hall holds that the students search for God in everything they do.
“(The men of Morris search for God) with all their passion and energy,” Neel said. “And so, when it comes to pursuing Christ, they’re going to do it as best they can. When it comes to ridiculous tradition, they’re going to do it as best they can.”
One of Neel’s favorite things about his hall is what most of Taylor’s student body has observed in chapel, which is welcoming the President whenever he speaks.
He enjoys continuing the mentality of the hall’s phrase by sharing it with everyone: “All in for each other, all in for Christ.”
Some of the challenges of being the new Morris Hall director include having to remember the names of the 293 residents living in Morris Hall.
He’s grateful to have the opportunity to get to know several of the men he’s ministering to.
Neel enjoys seeing young students grow in life. He knows the challenges that they face as it is the age in which one develops their perspective of life and the world.
But a greater challenge is to hold people accountable for their mistakes and allow them to make mistakes so that they may learn how to grow.
“A big thing I see in this job is the ministry of presence, just being there with people in their times of need,” Neel said.
As a current co-vocational pastor in Noblesville, Neel sees the spirit of the ministry in the Taylor community and has said that the local churches help to support that spirit.
Neel offered advice from his experience at Taylor to the current freshmen:
“Do your best to see the people around you. See the upperclassmen, see your professors, see the guy mowing the lawn, see the person working at the gas station. Work to see people as children of God because it’s easy to forget that everyone has a story and that the people serving you the potatoes at the dining hall could use encouragement too, just like Reverend Dyson said at chapel the other day.”
Neel and his family are loving their home here at Taylor and once again having the opportunity to engage with a God-loving community.