Presa to offer a balm to hurting world


Mary Lee Talbot
Staff Writer

“Our world is hurting and I want to offer ways the scriptures describe blessings from God,” said the Rev. Neal D. Presa, who will serve as chaplain at Chautauqua for Week Three. “No matter what people are struggling with, we can trust in God who abides in us. And as we bless others, God blesses that action too.” This is Presa’s first visit to Chautauqua.

Presa will preach at the 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning worship service in the Amphitheater. His sermon series is titled “Healing Words for a Hurting World: Blessings/Benedictions,” and the Sunday sermon is titled “And What Then, And For What?” 

His sermons will use readings from Hebrew scriptures for three sermons and Christian scriptures for three sermons. He will preach at the 9:15 a.m. Monday through Friday morning worship services in the Amp, and his sermon titles include “Selah,” “Control+Alt+Delete/Command+Shift+ESC,” “Hello,” “God is Able” and “Here But Not Yet.” 

Presa recently attended the World Council of Churches Central Committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

“The world is hurting. In our own country we have a mental health crisis, polarization, violence and a media that accelerates the volume and velocity of the pain,” he said. “I was glad at the WCC Central Committee meeting that we could express solidarity with so many hurting places. The world is so fragile.”

He continued, “There is a balm in Gilead; there is a timeless good word and benediction. We can adopt the ancient wisdom, the ageless wisdom, for ourselves and all of us. Even at Chautauqua, this wisdom can be an agent of healing.”

Presa is a Filipino/Pacific Islander/American pastor and theologian of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) serving remotely as the vice president of student affairs and vocational outreach and associate professor of preaching and worship at New Brunswick Theological Seminary at the New Jersey and New York sites.

Additionally, he holds concurrent appointments as affiliate associate professor of preaching at Fuller Theological Seminary; senior visiting professor of pastoral ministry and leadership at Union Theological Seminary in Dasmariñas, Philippines; adjunct professor of practical theology at the International Theological Seminary in West Covina, California; and a fellow of The Center for Pastor Theologians. For two decades, he served pastorates in New Jersey and California.

As a national and global ecumenical leader, he presently serves on both the Central Committee and Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches, where he is the moderator of the finance policy committee and serves on the Strategic Planning Advisory Group to the General Secretary. He is the co-vice chair of the current round of bilateral dialogues between The Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He was the convener of the Caribbean and North American Area Council for both the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the World Communion of Reformed Churches.

He is the immediate past chair of the board of trustees of the Presbyterian Foundation, the oldest religious philanthropic foundation with $2 billion in assets under management and annually disbursing about $93 million to support mission and ministries in the United States and around the world. In 2012, he was elected the moderator of the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

He is the author/editor of nine books and many book chapters and essays, including the forthcoming Worship, Justice, and Joy: A Liturgical Pilgrimage from Cascade Books.

He holds master’s and doctoral degrees in philosophy from Drew University; a master’s degree in theology from Princeton Theological Seminary; a master’s degree in divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary; a bachelor of arts degree from the University of California, Davis; and a graduate certificate in project management from Missouri State University. He is a candidate for the master of professional studies at Missouri State University.

He and his family live in Carlsbad, California. His wife and two sons will accompany him to Chautauqua.


The author Mary Lee Talbot

Mary Lee Talbot writes the recap of the morning worship service. A life-long Chautauquan, she is a Presbyterian minister, author of Chautauqua’s Heart: 100 Years of Beauty and a history of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. She edited The Streets Where We Live and Shalom Chautauqua. She lives in Chautauqua year-round with her Stabyhoun, Sammi.