Neal D. Presa is a Filipino/Pacific Islander American pastor theologian presently serving as Vice President of Student Affairs and Vocational Outreach and Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship at New Brunswick Theological Seminary. In these executive and administrative faculty roles, he collaborates with faculty and staff in providing strategic leadership and administrative direction for vocational outreach (admissions/enrollment management, and recruitment programs) and student services for all masters, doctoral, and certificate programs, teaching in the doctoral and masters degree programs, and as faculty chair of both the Scholarship Committee and the Admissions Committee. He is the pedagogical head/director for the Transformational Preaching concentration in the Doctor of Ministry program.
Additionally, he presently serves as Affiliate Associate Professor of Preaching at Fuller Theological Seminary, Senior Visiting Professor of Pastoral Theology and Ministry at Union Theological Seminary (Dasmariñas, Philippines), Adjunct Professor of Practical Theology at International Theological Seminary (West Covina, California), and a Fellow with The Center for Pastor Theologians (Oak Park, Ilinois).
His previous pastoral and academic appointments include: Interim Associate Vice President of Admissions and Recruitment and Visiting Associate Professor of Preaching at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, Research Fellow of Practical and Missional Theology at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa), Associate Pastor for Family, Connecting and Communication Ministries and Coordinator of the Faith & Work Initiative at the Village Community Presbyterian Church (Rancho Santa Fe, CA), Pastor of Middlesex Presbyterian Church (Middlesex, New Jersey), PhD External Examiner with the Faculty of Theology of Stellenbosch University (South Africa), Affiliate Assistant Professor of Worship and Preaching for New Brunswick Theological Seminary, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Worship at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Adjunct Instructor at Somerset Christian College (now Pillar College).
In 2012, he was elected the Moderator of the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the highest elected official of the 1.9-million member denomination’s national governing council, and, at the age of 35 at the time of his election, is the youngest to have been elected in the denomination’s history. As Moderator, he represented the Assembly and the denomination in various ecumenical, mission, ecclesiastical, and civic settings in 35 states and several countries including Cuba, Korea, Lebanon, Egypt, Japan, the Philippines, France, Scotland, The White House, and The Hoover Institution.
In ecumenical settings, he is a member of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee and its Executive Committee and is the Moderator of the Finance Policy Committee of the Central Committee (and Moderator ex officio of the Finance Subcommittee of the Executive Committee) from 2022-2030, having been elected by the WCC’s 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany where he served as a delegate representing the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and where he also served as a member of the Assembly’s Finance Committee. Additionally, he serves on the WCC’s Strategic Planning Advisory Group to the General Secretary, and the Steering Committee for the Green Village, an innovative real estate development initiative by the WCC grounded on sustainable principles of One Planet Living. Nationally, he is the Co-Vice Chair of the Third Round of Bilateral Dialogues between The Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) from 2019-2024. In 2006-2011, he was the Convener of the Caribbean and North American Area Council (CANAAC) of both the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), and in that capacity, served on the executive committees of both bodies. As CANAAC Convener, he successfully led the reorganization of the regional council, working with the heads of communions and ecumenical officers of 20 member denominations. He represented WARC at the WCC’s Faith and Order Plenary Commission in Kolympari, Crete, and was on a five-member delegation which represented WARC at the Symposium on Harvesting the Fruits convened by the Pontifical Council of Promoting Christian Unity at the Vatican. For the historic 25th General Council of the WCRC, he served on the Theology Planning Group, which developed and brought proposals to the General Council for the Communion’s work in the areas of theology and ecumenical engagement for the period of 2017-2024. In 2013, he was the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s ecumenical representative to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
In the regional and national settings of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), he has served successively as a presbytery Vice Moderator and Moderator; successively as the Vice Chair and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Presbyterian Foundation; Vice Chair and Parliamentarian of the General Assembly Council (predecessor of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board); Clerk of the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbytery of Elizabeth; the Committee on Theological Education and its executive committee; the Mission Development Resources Committee; the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly; and as corresponding member to multiple General Assemblies. In 2009-2012, he chaired the General Assembly Special Committee on the Heidelberg Catechism, which collaborated with the Reformed Church of America and the Christian Reformed Church in North America for the updating of the translation of a common version of the Heidelberg Catechism, including accurate Scriptural citations/versifications from the Latin and German texts.
In the academy, he is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the North American Academy of Liturgy, the Academy of Homiletics, and Societas Liturgica. He served on the editorial board of Studia Liturgica, the peer-review journal for Societas Liturgica. He is the Book Review Contributing Editor for The Living Pulpit (www.pulpit.org), an online journal for preachers and teachers of preaching. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Princeton Theological Seminary, serving on the Board’s Academic Affairs Committee, the Student Life Committee, and the Special Committee on the Bicentennial.
He is a prolific author and editor of seven books and numerous articles and book chapters, and with a forthcoming eighth book (under contract with Cascade Books/Wipf & Stock) on the role of joy as a liturgical spirituality for the Christian life, a pastoral study project that is being funded by a grant from The Louisville Institute. A manuscript for a co-edited volume on the topics of ministry, pastoral leadership, justice, vocation, and theological education is in-process and under contract with Wipf & Stock with expected publication in late 2023. He wasva Collaborative Inquiry Team member for two Louisville Institute grant projects: a project on gender equality in Asian American and Latinx churches, and another recently completed project on Filipinx American theologies and identity formation.
He has received numerous recognitions including being named: Daily Chaplain/Preacher-in-Residence for Week 3 of the Summer 2023 season at The Chautauqua Institution, the 2018 Distinguished Pastor Series Preacher for the First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton (Illinois), the 2017 Malcolm Lecture Series Preacher and Lecturer for the First Presbyterian Church of Texarkana (Arkansas), a three-year honorary appointment (2013-16) as Extraordinary Associate Professor of Practical Theology with the North-West University (Potchefstroom, South Africa), New Brunswick Theological Seminary’s Mark Kraai Lecturer in Public Theology in 2013, the Alvin J. Poppen and John R. Young Fellowship Lecturer in Reformed Worship and Liturgy at the Reformed Church Center in 2012, the James Pearsall Prize Recipient by Drew University in 2009, and named in the Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges for two consecutive years having been nominated by the Graduate Division of Religion of Drew University.
He holds the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) with a specialization in liturgics, ecumenics, and homiletics from Drew University, a Graduate Certificate in Project Management from Missouri State University, the Master of Theology (Th.M.) in pastoral theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from San Francisco Theological Seminary, and the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in political science (w/ highest honors) and history (w/ honors) from the University of California, Davis. He is a candidate for the Master of Professional Studies (MPS) from Missouri State University.
Neal, his wife Grace, and their puppy Calvin live in Carlsbad, California. Their eldest son, Daniel, is an undergraduate (majoring in political science) at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. Their youngest son, Andrew, is an undergraduate (majoring in finance) at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California.