The Reverend Dr. Gregory S. Neal is the Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Commerce, Texas, and Rector of Grace Incarnate Ministries. He is a graduate of Southern Methodist University with the B.A. in History, Religious Studies, and Russian Language, Duke University with the M.Div. in Theology and Biblical Studies, and Trinity Graduate College with the Ph.D in Systematic Theology and New Testament Textual Criticism. His doctoral dissertation was in the field of Sacramental Theology and dealt with protestant and Methodist understandings of the doctrine of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion. Essential elements of Neal's work on this subject have been re-drafted into readable English and have been published in his book: Grace Upon Grace: Sacramental Theology and the Christian Life.
Ministry Credentials and Pastoral History:
Rev. Neal is a "Clergy Member in Full Connection" of the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church, having been ordained a Transitional Deacon in 1991 and an Elder ("Presbyter") in 1994 by the Reverend Dr. Bruce P. Blake, then-resident Bishop of the Dallas Episcopal Area. While trained as a theologian, Dr. Neal is nevertheless called to the pastoral ministry of the Church of Jesus Christ. During his 25+ years in ministry he has served as Associate Pastor and Pastor at several United Methodist Churches in North Carolina and North Texas.
- The North Carolina Conference
- Student Associate Pastor: Rehobeth and Westover (June 1989 - Decmeber 1989)
- Student Pastor - Pinetops-Temperance Hall-McKendree-Marvin (January 1990 - June 1992)
- The North Texas Conference
- Pastor of First Celeste-Kingston-White Rock (June 1992- December 1992)
- Pastor of Cockrell Hill in Dallas (January 1993 - June 1996)
- Pastor of First Trenton/Blue Ridge (June 1996 - June 1997)
- Pastor of Beverly Drive in Wichita Falls (June 1997 - June 2001)
- Senior Pastor of First Seagoville (January 2002 - July 2007)
- Senior Pastor of St. Stephen in Mesquite (July 2007 - July 2011)
- Senior Pastor of Northgate in Irving (July 2011 - July 2014)
- Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church in Commerce (July 2014 -- To Present)
In addition to his pastoral duties in the local church, Rev. Neal has served on several boards and committees of the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, including two District Committees on Ordained Ministry, the Division of National and World Outreach of the Board of Global Ministries, the Eccumenical Ministries Team, and the Conference Planning Committee. Beyond these District and Confernece responsibilities, Dr. Neal has also been involved in several mission, ministry, and educational initiatives at the denominational-level: from 1994 - 2003 he taught in the General Board of Global Ministry's Schools of Christian Mission in Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, North Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Virginia, and also served as Dean of the North Texas Cooperative Mission School from 1996-1997. Rev. Neal has been involved with the Walk to Emmaus since 1997, serving as Spiritual Director for several dozen weekend retreats and as Community Spiritual Director for the Red River and Dallas Emmaus Communities. Dr. Neal has taught This Holy Mystery: A United Methodist Understanding of Holy Communion to numerous lay and clergy groups across the denomination since its adoption by the 2004 General Conference. As a recognized speaker on several theological topics, including Sacramental Theology, Rev. Neal has lead numerous other spiritual retreats, revivals, and study seminars for groups all across the United Methodist Church and in other denominations.
Greg is a past member of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature. A member of the Order of Saint Luke, in the early 1990s he served as Prior of the Duke Divinity Chapter. His love of liturgy and the contemplative life, as well as his keen interest in the ecumenical movement, led to his being invited to become the first United Methodist Associate of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, an Anglican Monastic community which has fed him spiritually for 20 years.
Dr. Neal is interested in many fields of Theological, Historical, and Biblical study, including Pneumatology, Christology, Philosophical Theology, New Testament Canonical and Textual Criticism, Pauline, Johannine, and Synoptic Studies, but his field of specialization is Sacramental Theology. Greg is an author of many articles and several books. One of his most important works is Grace Upon Grace: Sacramental Theology and the Christian Life, which is now out in a second edition. To read a chapter from this book -- "The Sacraments as Means of Grace" -- click here. Seeking the Shepherd's Arms is a work of Christian devotional literature and is available online or in your local Christian bookstore. Never one to be idle, Dr. Neal is currently working on several books, each of which focuses upon topics within Sacramental Theology.
Among Reverend Neal's many interests may be found a love of languages, and especially the study of linguistic theory. Over the past 30+ years he has been a student of 10 languages: Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Coptic, Akkadian, Old Church Slavonic, Russian, and Theological German and Dutch. Recently, Dr. Neal has begun to study of Polish.
Greg is also fascinated with computers and the internet, and enjoys designing websites as a means of furthering his ministry. Rev. Neal has been a Macintosh person since the mid-1980s, and prior to the advent of the Mac he used one of several Apple II computers. Hence, it should come as no surprise that he doesn't do Windows.
Like many ministers, Greg is an avid reader of many different literary genre. In addition to the theological and biblical fields, he particularly loves Science Fiction and Fantasy, his favorite authors being Robert A. Heinlein, James P. Hogan, Larry Niven, Andre Norton, and David Weber. He also enjoys Tom Clancy's "Jack Ryan" series, the "Father Dowling Mystery" novels of Ralph McInnery, the Harry Potter series by R.J. Rowling, and the works of Mark Twain. Check out his Bookshelf for works of the Biblical, Theological, Historical, and Scientific genre.
Reverend Neal's interests include both near and deep space Astronomy. He enjoys spending clear, crisp evenings outdoors and away from city lights, with his 10 inch reflector and 4 inch refractor telecopes, slewing across the night sky in search of distant galaxies, nebula, planets, comets, and other amazing celestial works of God's creative genious
Dr. Neal loves motion pictures and Television programming of many different kinds, including classic films and current releases. His favorite classic-movie actor is William Powell and his all-time favorite actresses are Ingrid Bergman and Audrey Hepburn. Being a Science Fiction fan, it should not be a surprise to anyone that Greg is also a fan of Star Trek (all incarnations), Stargate (the movie and the three TV series), the Battlestar Galactica re-boot, The Big Bang Theory, classic and current Doctor Who. He also enjoys British Comedies, including The Vicar of Dibley, Waiting for God, and the classic Are You Being Served.
Greg is also an avid world traveler, and especially loves ocean-going vessels and cruise ships. The Holland America Line is his Cruise Line of choice; although he has traveled on ships of other Lines, he particularly loves the charm and old-world grace and high level of service that is provided by their officers and crew. Thus far, he has enjoyed well over 300 days aboard HAL ships as a passenger, and over 100 days as a Volunteer Chaplain, and looks forward to many more years of ocean voyages on the decks of HAL's "Damships."
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