William Neal is a retired Baptist minister who served during his career as a campus minister, journalist and CEO for a social services organization.
He served for a decade as editor of The Christian Index in Georgia, served for many years on the boards of Baptists Today and Nurturing Faith, and is currently serving as the chair of the strategic advisory board for Good Faith Media’s publishing division.
Neal lives with his wife, Judy, in Fayetteville, Georgia, near his daughter and four grandchildren.
- What story, verse or passage from your faith tradition’s sacred texts has significantly influenced / shaped your life?
One Old Testament passage that has helped to shape my philosophy of life is from the book of Micah and can be summarized as this: “Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly.”
My favorite book of the New Testament is 1 Corinthians. Not just because of the love chapter, although I do “love it,” but also because of the great promise of hope in 2:9, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, that is what God has prepared for those who love him” (my paraphrase).
That reminds me that there is always a mystery about God that we will not understand, and a promise from God that a glorious future awaits those who love God.
- Who are three people (other than your family) who have shaped your life and worldview? And why?
My worldview has been shaped by knowing so many good people and I have learned something from each of them, but there is no one individual who has shaped my understanding more than any other.
I will say that men like Jimmy Carter and Martin Luther King, Jr. are heroes to me because they were men of faith as well as men of action.
- List three of your “desert island” books, movies or TV shows.
If I were going to be stranded on a desert island for some considerable period of time, I guess I would be expected to bring along the Bible, but I would also like to re-read “The Source” by James Michener, and a little book that has helped me with my spiritual journey called “The Will of God” by Leslie Weatherhead.
And if I could take along just some books for pure pleasure reading, anything by David Baldacci or John Grisham would do nicely!
- What is one of the most critical issues people are facing today?
I believe the greatest issue facing people today is the growing chasm between the “haves” and the “have nots.”
But it is not just the difference between being rich and being poor; it is the chasm between those who have spiritual wisdom and those who do not; between those who have loving, supportive families and those who do not; between those who love life and those who are miserable about the way their lives have turned out.
Some who are rich are also miserable. It is a matter of finding the right balance in our lives and sometimes it is difficult for those of us who have found it, to know how best to reach out to those who lack that balance.
The greatest chasm is between those who have hope and those who do not.
- What are a few of your hobbies?
I have many hobbies, and more time for them now that I am retired.
I love to read, to travel, to work in my garden, to attend my grandkids’ sporting events and concerts; to watch college football games and old movies, to work crossword puzzles, and research my family’s genealogy.
I also take on projects at church that allow me to maintain contact with as many people as possible.
- If you could freeze your life into an already-lived 10 seconds, what would they be?
The best 10 seconds of my life would probably be when I got the news in the hospital waiting room that my first grandchild had just been born and was a healthy baby boy.
At that point in my life, I had been happily married for over 30 years, and I was the father of a beautiful daughter who was also happily married. I was now a proud grandfather with many good times to anticipate. I was seeing God at work in my life over a long period of time, and life was good.
- Our tagline at Good Faith Media is, “There’s more to tell.” What’s your “more to tell”?
I have always known that I was more complicated than what I could adequately share with others about myself. And for that reason, I try not to assume too much about the people I know and the new people I meet.
There is always more to discover, because all people, and events for that matter, are too complicated to fully understand without time, patience, and a genuine interest in knowing.
Reflection and resources at the intersection of faith and culture through an inclusive Christian lens.