Introducing Minister of Music Candidate Ariel Merivil

by | Dec 1, 2023 | Uncategorized

A Message From the Search Committee

Dear Wilshire, your deep love for the worship and music legacy at our church has been such an encouragement. Over the past eight months, our committee’s priorities have been to gather feedback from all, to reflect with you on the past while looking forward with anticipation and to pray. Through many hours of focus group sessions, discussions with staff, reviews of congregant survey feedback, guidance from Timothy and enlightening conversations, we have worked very hard to fully understand the most critical and desired attributes in our next minister of music. 

After listening to and considering so many candidates in the context of our requirements, we are grateful and joyful to unanimously recommend that the church call Ariel Merivil as our next Minister of Music. We believe wholeheartedly that Ariel’s deep faith, relational and personable demeanor, heart for ministry, strong administrative and organizational abilities and profound talent as a conductor, vocalist and instrumentalist are an excellent match for our church. 

We see his varied prior professional experiences in church music ministry leadership — over 20 years, currently at First-Plymouth Congregational Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, a church with some important similarities to Wilshire — as well as in choral leadership in academic settings (two-plus years) as highly compatible to our many music programs for all ages. 

We are confident his performance experience provides ample evidence of his passion and giftedness. We appreciate his insights into the ever-evolving challenges facing churches and their music programs in our day, and we have been impressed with the innovative efforts made at Ariel’s current church. We are prayerful and hopeful that Ariel will lead us further into the Wilshire vision of becoming a bold witness to the way of Christ in our time. He is beloved by our committee already, and we are delighted to see him meet the entire congregation.

Thank you for trusting us to serve and provide leadership on this journey. Wilshire, may we continue together to build a community of faith shaped by the Spirit of Jesus Christ — and may there continue to be beautiful music among us.

Kevin Cabaniss, Lynette DeBose, David Duncan, Anne Foster, LeAnn Hampton, Mary Morgan, Timothy Peoples, Kristi Reavis, James Sobolik- Williams, Laura Summers, Melinda Thompson

About Ariel

Since July 2017 Ariel has served as associate minister of music at First-Plymouth Congregational Church, a 5,000-member United Church of Christ congregation in Lincoln, Nebraska. He provides music and program leadership for at least five weekly worship services and directs seven choral and instrumental ensembles for both youth and adults. 

Born in Boston and raised in Atlanta, Ariel graduated in 2007 from Southern Polytechnic State University (now Kennesaw State University) in Marietta, Georgia, with a Bachelor of Architecture degree. After working several years for an architectural firm in Atlanta, he earned a dual-concentration Master of Music in choral conducting and organ performance from Georgia State University in 2013.

Prior to his current role, Ariel served 13 years in various ministerial positions of progressive responsibility at Atlanta First United Methodist Church, including director of music, worship and administration from 2014 to 2017 and director of music and worship from 2012 to 2014. 

He has conducted, instructed and accompanied high school and collegiate choirs in Nebraska and Georgia and has sung and performed as a soloist in a variety of groups, including the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta’s Chorale – New Creation, Sounding Light and Exigence, as well as at national conventions and in local concert series and music festivals.

Ariel believes “music has the power to elevate our worship and connect us to each other and the divine.” This fuels his commitment to serving and ministering to all members of the congregation. The diversity of his musical background gives him the confidence to lead worship through a variety of musical styles, from classical and traditional hymns and anthems to spirituals, gospel and more. Similarly, his versatility and experience as a vocalist and choral instructor, along with his proficiency as an accompanist, enable him to lead musicians and congregants across a broad range of musical abilities.

Performances under Ariel’s direction reflect his creativity, which he also applies to stimulate participation in choral or instrumental opportunities targeted to accommodate those whose schedules may not permit weekly rehearsals or long-term commitments. 

Personable, articulate and humble, he values collaboration in ministry and worship planning. Multiple colleagues and choristers commended the ingenuity and insightfulness of his organizational skills. The depth and earnestness of his Spirit-driven faith have been evident in all of his interactions with the search committee and church staff.

Perhaps fitting for someone with his education background and artistry, Ariel enjoys design, photography and gardening. He also is a cyclist and an accomplished weightlifter, having won multiple competitions in USA Powerlifting since 2016.


  • Master of Music in Choral Conducting and Organ Performance, Georgia State University, 2013
  • Bachelor of Architecture, Southern Polytechnic State University, 2007


  • Associate Minister of Music, First-Plymouth Congregational Church, Lincoln, Nebraska, 2017 – Present
  • Director of Music, Worship and Administration, Atlanta First United Methodist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, 2014 – 2017
  • Director of Music and Worship, Atlanta First United Methodist Church, 2012 – 2014
  • Music Associate, Atlanta First United Methodist Church, 2004 – 2012


  • Adjunct Professor and Conductor, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Department of Music, Unity Choir (40-voice ensemble of students and community members), 2023
  • Tenor Soloist, Abendmusik Season Concert Finale, 2023
  • Tenor Soloist, Lincoln Symphony Chorus, Beethoven, Symphony No. 9, 2022
  • Clinician, Wayne State College Honor Choir (Led a 90-voice high school regional honor choir), 2022
  • Accompanist, Nebraska Wesleyan University Choirs, 2019 – Present
  • Choral Director, Atlanta Adventist Academy (Led Adoramus, a 40-voice high school choral ensemble), 2015 – 2016
  • Lenten Solo Organ Recital, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (Marietta, Georgia), 2015
  • Adjunct Instructor and Conductor, School of Music, Georgia State University (Led Choral Union, a 90-voice choral ensemble of undergraduate and graduate students), 2014 – 2016
  • Member and Soloist, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus, 2013 – 2015
  • Accompanist, Greater Atlanta Adventist Academy Choir (advanced 100-voice touring high school choir), 2012 – Present

A Note From the Candidate

Dear Wilshire,

I am honored and excited to join you as Minister of Music candidate. It is not by chance that God has called us to work together to continue the great work that has been alive in and through you for decades. 

I pray that in the days ahead, the Spirit will enliven our hearts with worship and music that speaks of God’s ever-inclusive love for all people. May our worship remind us of who God is and inspire us to provide a seat at the table for all who need to experience the presence of God.

We’ve come this far by faith, so God is not finished with us yet!


See Ariel conduct, play and sing in our YouTube playlist.

Minister of Music Call Weekend, Dec. 14–17

Ariel Merivil, the candidate recommended by the Minister of Music Search Committee and the Personnel Committee, will participate in a Call Weekend starting Thursday, Dec. 14, and culminating in a special church business meeting after worship on Sunday, Dec. 17. 

Three Meet and Greet sessions in Community Hall will be the main opportunities for church members to meet Ariel. Attend the session of your choice; no need to RSVP. During the first part of each event, attendees will be invited to write and submit questions for a moderated time of Q&A to follow.

  • Meet and Greet 1 | Friday, Dec. 15 | 10:15–11:30 a.m. | Beverages provided.
  • Meet and Greet 2 | Saturday, Dec. 16 | 8:30–9:45 a.m. | Families with preschoolers, children and youth are encouraged to attend this session. Activities are planned for the children. Childcare (infants – age 4) is available during this session only. 
  • Meet and Greet 3 | Saturday, Dec. 16 | 11:45 – 1 p.m. | Snacks provided. 

During worship on Sunday, Dec. 17, Ariel will sing a solo, lead congregational singing and conduct Sanctuary Choir on one piece.

About the vote

On Nov. 27, Wilshire’s deacons voted to call a special church business meeting on Dec. 17 for the purpose of voting to call a new minister of music. The meeting will take place in the Sanctuary at 12:15 p.m.

Voting will be conducted by private ballot. Members, please pick up your ballot in James Gallery on Dec. 17 between 9:15 a.m. and 11 a.m. Distribution will stop at 11 and will resume from the end of worship until 12:15 p.m. In accordance with Wilshire bylaws, only Wilshire members present in the Sanctuary may vote. To be eligible to vote, you must have joined the church by Dec. 6, or 10 days prior to the meeting. 

After votes have been collected, the meeting will be called into recess for votes to be counted. Members may stay in the Sanctuary during counting or leave if needed. The meeting will then be called back into session and the results announced. We will email the members later in the day to announce the result. Worship Care will be extended to allow preschool families to attend the business meeting. Parents should pick up their children during the vote-counting recess. 

Questions? Email 

Printed copies of the candidate profile will be available through Dec. 17 at the church.