Greetings to my fellow sojourners,
My name is Reverend William L. McNeal, but I prefer to be called Pastor Bill. My wife is Captain Janet A. (Adams) McNeal (Ret.), but she prefers to be called Janet. I was born and raised in the small community of Blossburg in northern Pennsylvania. I married my high school sweetheart and we have two married children and five grandchildren. Our daughter, Christy and her husband Sergeant Timothy Hicks have three sons, Jacob, Joshua, and Garrett. The Hicks family lives in the Linglestown area of Harrisburg. Our son, Adam and his wife Heidi have two children, Ava Rose and Gavin. They live in Pleasant Gap. We also have a 7 year old dog; a Brittany named Annie, who has never fully realized she is a dog she is just part of the family.
My education was started in Blossburg where I attended the Blossburg Elementary, and then North Penn Jr & Sr High School. After graduation I attended Williamsport Area Community College and upon completion received an Associate Degree in Service and Operation of Heavy Equipment. I received my Certified Lay Speaking certificate in the State College District and then my Local Pastors License. I attended Wesley Seminary in Washington, D.C. and completed the UMC Ministerial Course of Study in 2005. I obtained my Associate Membership in the Central Pennsylvania Conference (which has become the Susquehanna Conference) in 2007.
My call to service began when I was somewhere around eight years old - when Christ accepted me. I accepted Christ about 32 years later. I say this because of the circumstances of my life and how my ministry has evolved. I will cover this more in my opening sermon as I introduce myself to your congregational family.
The short story is that during a summer VBS program I followed my best friend (the pastor’s son) to the altar and repeated all of the words of a salvation prayer. At that point, Christ accepted me. I then had very little exposure to the church as I lived my life. My family did not attend church, but I did have some contact through summer programs and friends.
Janet and I attended the same youth group but didn’t start dating until my first year away at college. I did attend a church irregularly, but it was more for social than religious reasons. Through marriage, family and other factors of life, I became more of a rebel then a disciple. Later, during a very low point in my life, my wife and family were attending church and I was drafted into participating in a Lay Witness weekend. My wife had volunteered to host all the youth for that weekend at our house, and she needed me to help drive them to and from events. As a reluctant observer I was drawn into what was being said, and realized my life was not where I needed it to be. In the course of that weekend I rededicated my life to Christ; hence the part about Christ accepting me many, many years before I accepted Christ.
Also through that weekend I received my call to the ministry. After leaving the altar at the church, and as I walked back to my pew, one of my friends from the church was sitting in his pew crying. When I walked past him I heard a voice saying, “help them”. I looked around me and there was no one else close to me so I walked on. As I wandered through the church, I heard the voice once again with the same words, “help them”. So I went back to my friend and put my arm around him and he said that he was afraid to go to the altar. We talked for a few minutes and I said I would go with him. We both went to the altar and he also gave his life to Christ that night.
For the next few years I immersed myself in study trying to learn more about this Jesus I met. I began taking classes and became a Certified Lay Speaker. I took a Disciple Bible Study class. After that I taught Disciple Bible Study and at that point I could no longer ignore God’s call upon my life to “help them”. I approached my District Superintendant and began the process toward my call into pastoral ministry. Notably, out of the eight people who started the class, six finished. Four of the six are now in ministry.
Since that day I have served as a certified lay speaker at the Port Matilda Charge, then at the Black Oak Charge, both in the State College District. Upon completion of my Local Pastors Licensing School, I was appointed to the Unityville Charge in the Williamsport District, and then to the Fairmount charge in the York District. While at Fairmount I completed Course of Study, and the qualifications for my Associate Members Commissioning. Since then I have served in York Springs charge and now called to serve at Bethany United Methodist Church in Milton.
Some of my gifts are compassion, listening and missions. I have a real heart for men’s ministry. I try to refocus and enhance the involvement of men into the life of the church – and the church into the life of the men. I am very interested in the development of lay speakers for the local church (and beyond) as they focus on God’s calling in their life. I am a firm believer in the importance of small group Bible studies and the call to discipleship in order to make disciples. I am very active in mission ministry such as traveling with teams from VIM and local mission teams to aid in recovery efforts following flooding, hurricanes, etc. I am also drawn to mission work to help the needy in the local community.
I still heed the call from God to “help them”. Through this I strive to be open to healing ministry, both physical and spiritual. Even though we are loved by God and called to be saints, I recognize the ‘humanness’ of the congregation, and the pains of our fallen nature.
Life experience has taught me that we as humans are not perfect, and I know I am not perfect. But, I believe that together we can work toward our call to perfection through Christ.
Reverend William L McNeal (Pastor Bill)