As the third child of a sharecropper, Pastor John McNeal, Jr., was born in Metter, Georgia during the Great Depression. Because of the steadfast faith of his parents and grandmother, he came to know the Lord as a young teen and had a great desire to know the Bible. Although no one in his family had graduated from high school, he had a thirst for education and wanted to be an educator. He prayed and asked the Lord to enable him to finish high school, as well as go to college and graduate school.


Pastor served in the U.S. Air Force for four years after high school, part of that time in the Korean War. It was while in the Air Force that the Lord called him into the Gospel ministry. Pastor went to Fort Valley State Teachers’ College on the G.I. Bill. A mutual friend introduced him to Earlene Hazel, who was attending Grace Bible College in Omaha, Nebraska. They began a relationship by correspondence and married after graduation.


Pastor wanted to go to seminary but several institutions rejected him because of his race. He was accepted at Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. He and Mrs. McNeal moved there, where he worked his way through school.


While at Grace, he met the grandson of the Chairman of the Board of Carver Bible Institute and College in Atlanta, Georgia. Carver was ministering to black students, but the entire faculty was white. They asked Pastor to join their faculty after seminary. At the same time, a mission agency under the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC) asked Carver if Pastor could use their Chapel to start a church since the black students could not attend white churches. Pastor followed the Lord’s leading to Atlanta. He served for 23 years as Dean of Students and professor at Carver. He founded the Atlanta Bible Baptist Church in 1964, going full time in 1984 (see Our History).


Pastor had asked the Lord to help him go to college and graduate school. He had gone to seminary, but that is not the same as graduate school. One day while teaching at Carver, he received a letter from the Veterans Administration which said, “Congratulations, you have been awarded another 36 months of education on the G.I. Bill.” So he went to Georgia State University; the Lord had answered his prayer in full!


Pastor’s Life Verse is Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” His desire is to know Christ and make Him known through His Word. He has asked the Lord for “a million souls.” Since the Lord has given him a teaching and preaching ministry for over 50 years, he has many sons and daughters in the ministry all over the world. He has helped train 14 pastors and missionaries who have started churches themselves. He is trusting the Lord to answer his request in full for a million souls.   


Pastor holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Science from Fort Valley State Teachers’ College, a Bachelor of Religious Education Degree from Grace Theological Seminary, a Masters in Administration from Georgia State University, and a Doctor of Divinity in Bible and Theology from Carver Bible Institute and College.


Pastor McNeal is an Emeritus board member of Clarks Summit University and Baptist Bible Seminary. He is a lifetime member and Chaplain of Goodwill Industries of North Georgia. He is the Southern Representative and serves on the Steering Council for the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship Association.


Pastor and Mrs. McNeal live in Atlanta and have two daughters, two sons-in-law, and two grandchildren.