Pastoral Counseling Ministry

At First Pres, Dr. Kirk Neely offers pastoral counseling in the following areas:

  • Spiritual conflict
  • Personal decision making
  • Conflicted relationships
  • Acute and chronic grief
  • Life change issues
  • Pre-marital counseling
  • Marriage counseling
  • Divorce recovery

Those with other counseling issues, such as anger management or addiction, require more intensive counseling and will be referred to other professionals or agencies. This ministry is not intended to be psychotherapy or crisis intervention.

What is Pastoral Counseling?

The pastoral counselor brings together the resources of scripture, prayer, Christian theology, and church history with appropriate clinical practices to aid a person, a family, or a group in dealing with specific issues.

From the time of Moses, counselors have played an important role in ministry in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

"Jethro, Moses's father-in-law and mentor, advised him to designate counselors to help resolve the problems of the people." (Exodus 18)

In the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, the role of counselor was a person of understanding.

"The purposes of the human mind are like deep water, but the person of understanding will draw them out." (Proverbs 20:5)

In the New Testament church, leaders were consulted for advice in personal decision making. Jesus promised his followers that after he departed he would send the gift of the perfect counselor, The Holy Spirit.

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth." (John 14:15-17).

About Dr. Kirk Neely

Kirk H. Neely is a native of Spartanburg. He received his B.S. from Furman University. He was licensed to the ministry by First Baptist Church, Taylors, SC and ordained to the Pastoral Ministry by Crescent Hill Baptist Church, Louisville, KY. He received his M.Div. and D.Min. in Pastoral Counseling from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was awarded a Merrill Fellowship to The Divinity School of Harvard University where he did postdoctoral study.

From 1996 until 2014 he served as Senior Pastor of Morningside Baptist, Spartanburg. Previously, he served at First Baptist, Spartanburg and at Knollwood Baptist, Winston-Salem, NC. Early in his ministry, Kirk was a pastoral counselor and chaplain at a state mental hospital, a child evaluation clinic, an institution for juvenile delinquents, and a general hospital. Since 2012, Dr. Neely has served as an adjunct faculty member of the Religion Department of the University of South Carolina Upstate. In 2014, he was retained by First Presbyterian Spartanburg as a Pastoral Counselor. He also operates a private pastoral consultation service. In addition to teaching, counseling, and consultation, Dr. Neely is a freelance writer and a storyteller.

Kirk and his wife, Clare, have been married since 1966. They are parents of five children and have 13 grandchildren.


In appreciation for this service, counselees will be offered the opportunity to make a contribution to the church for Pastoral Counseling. These contributions will be designated and used to underwrite this ministry. All checks should be made payable to First Presbyterian Church Spartanburg.


All counseling conversations with Dr. Neely are held in confidence, and he alone will have access to counseling notes.