Dr. Jerusha Matsen Neal

Dr. Jerusha Matsen Neal is Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Duke Divinity School. Her scholarly work examines the action of the Spirit on the performative borders of body and culture. Her research interests focus on postcolonial preaching, climate stewardship, preaching and gender, and a theology of the Spirit in sermon performance.

Her most recent book, The Overshadowed Preacher: Mary, the Spirit, and the Labor of Proclamation (Wm. B. Eerdmans), asks the sticky question of what is meant when preaching is described as “anointed.” It challenges preachers to leave behind false shadows and be overshadowed by the Spirit of God. It received a 2020 Christianity Today Jesus Creed Book Award for the Preaching Life.

Neal is an ordained American Baptist minister with broad ecumenical experience, most recently serving as a Global Ministries missionary to the Fiji Islands through the United Methodist Church. During her years in Fiji, she served as Dean of Studies at Davuilevu Theological College, the oldest theological seminary in that nation. 

She has written numerous articles and book chapters reflecting on preaching in the Fijian context and the importance of a global homiletic conversation (selected examples include: Bible in Folklore Worldwide (2021); The Future Shape of Christian Proclamation (2020);  Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology (2021)). A former actress and playwright, she has authored a collection of dramatic monologues, Blessed: Monologues for Mary (2012).

Neal has spent her ministry preaching in cross-cultural spaces and bridging denominational communities. God’s work in these in-between locations has convinced her that preaching matters now more than ever.  \Serving as keynote preacher for such events as the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly, the Young Preacher’s Festival and the Homegrown North Carolina Women’s Preaching Festival, Neal is committed to encouraging the voices of young preachers ­— and particularly the voices of women — in the risky proclamation of gospel hope. In 2020, she was awarded the Exemplary Teacher of the Year award from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church.