Neal D. Presa is a Filipino American pastor theologian presently serving as Associate Pastor and Coordinator of the Faith & Work Initiative of the Village Community Presbyterian Church (Rancho Santa Fe, California), Visiting Professor of Practical Theology at International Theological Seminary (West Covina, California), Visiting Professor and Scholar (Senior Visiting Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Leadership effective September 1, 2021) at Union Theological Seminary (Dasmariñas, Philippines), Research Fellow of Practical and Missional Theology at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa), Fellow with The Center for Pastor Theologians (Oak Park, Ilinois), and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Presbyterian Foundation, the fiduciary of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) which stewards and manages over $2 billion in assets and disburses about $73 million annually to support mission and ministries in the Unites States and around the world.
His previous academic and pastoral appointments include: Extraordinary Associate Professor of Practical Theology with the North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa, 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. 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 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 2022, he will be one of four official delegates of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches to be held in Karlsruhe, Germany. 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 Faith and Order Plenary Commission of the World Council of Churches in Kolympari, Crete, and was on a 5-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.), Neal has served as presbytery moderator and vice moderator; vice chairman of the board of trustees of the Presbyterian Foundation (2018-2020); vice chair of the General Assembly Council; 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, Neal is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the North American Academy of Liturgy, 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, having served on the Board’s Academic Affairs Committee, the Student Life Committee, and the Special Committee on the Bicentennial.
Neal is a prolific author and editor of six books and numerous articles and book chapters, and working on a seventh book 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. He is a collaborative inquiry team member for two Louisville Institute grant projects: one on gender equality in Asian American and Latinx churches, and another project on Filipino American theologies and identity formation.
He has received numerous recognitions including being named: 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), 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 Ph.D. and M.Phil. in liturgics, ecumenics, and homiletics from Drew University, the Th.M. in pastoral theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, the M.Div. from San Francisco Theological Seminary, and the B.A. in political science (w/ highest honors) and history (w/ honors) from the University of California, Davis. He is a candidate for the MBA in project management from Missiouri State University.
Neal, his wife, two sons, and their puppy live in Carlsbad, California.