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Neal, Emily Gardiner (1911-1989) | Archival Collections at Wheaton College

Name: Neal, Emily Gardiner (1911-1989)

Historical Note:

Emily Gardiner Neal was born in 1911, reared in New York City, and was educated at Brearley School for Girls and the David Mannes College of Music. She married Alvin Neal (a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis) in 1930 and immediately sailed to Argentina. After five years in South America and the Netherlands West Indies, the Neal’s and their two daughters returned to the United States, settling in Pittsburgh where Mr. Neal was an executive with Gulf Oil Corporation.

During World War II while her husband was at sea, Mrs. Neal began her writing career by doing a bi-weekly newspaper column, “Winning the Peace,” dealing with international affairs (her father was a military expert for the New York Times), After the war she wrote magazine articles on a variety of subjects including medicine. Some fifty of her articles appeared in Look, Redbook, McCalls, and Reader’s Digest.

Mrs. Neal’s ministry began with the publication of her first book, “A Reporter Finds God Through Spiritual Healing” in September 1956. Her object in writing the book was to expose the healing claims being made at the time; however, it ended as the story of her own conversion.

Dr. Alfred Price, Rector of St. Stephen’s Church in Philadelphia, and a leader in the field of healing, asked Mrs. Neal to speak at the annual meeting of the International Order of St. Luke that Fall of 1956, At that time, the congregation was largely clerical. Teaching also at this Conference were two great forerunners of the healing ministry, Agnes Sanford and Ethel Banks whose husband was the founder of the Order of St. Luke.

Mrs. Neal’s sound theological knowledge was recognized by the clergy present, and as a result, requests to speak and to lead healing missions poured in, which served to distance her from her career as a successful magazine writer. She tried to resist the pull away from what she enjoyed doing, but the love of the Lord drew her to His work.

Mrs. Neal was invited to her first mission in 1957 in Wisconsin, where she was asked to participate in the laying on of hands by the clergy for the first time. Her respect for the Church’s authority prompted her to phone Bishop Pardue to ask what to do. He said, “Do what you are told to do.”

Prentice Hall asked her to write her second book, “God Can Heal You Now” (1958). “The Lord Is Our Healer” was published in 1961 and her recognition as an outstanding author and speaker in the area of spiritual healing continued to grow.

With three bishops, three priests, and two physicians she served on the Joint Commission on the Ministry of Healing appointed at the 1961 General Convention of the Episcopal Church to study the Church’s ministry of healing. The Commission’s report, submitted to the General Convention of 1964, was unanimously approved by both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies.

Following the death of her husband, she began to accept three-day missions regularly. In 1963, “Father Bob and His Boys” and “In the Midst of Life” were published. Mrs. Neal studied at the Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute and was permitted to take courses open only to clergy, such as pastoral counseling. In 1966 she was asked by The Rev. Dr. John Baiz to lead weekly healing services and counsel at Calvary Church in Pittsburgh. This she did for ten years, along with traveling widely on missions throughout the United States and abroad and writing “Where There’s Smoke” (1967) and “The Healing Power of Christ” (1972).

Mrs. Neal is listed in Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in the East, The Royal Blue Book (London), The World Who’s Who of Women, and Women Community Leaders and Noteworthy Americans.  She was ordained a deacon (permanent) by Bishop Robert Appleyard in Trinity Cathedral in Pittsburgh on January 31, 1978. The Rev. Mrs. Neal’s book, “The Healing Ministry: A Personal Journal,” published in 1982, was written after she moved in 1976 to Cincinnati, where she lived on the grounds of the Convent of the Transfiguration.  She served on the staff of St. Thomas Episcopal Church as Deacon, leading weekly healing services and counseling. At the Convent she served as deacon and led a monthly healing service and counseled weekly. She also served as Deacon monthly at St. Barnabas Church. In 1987 the Episcopal Healing Ministry Foundation was formed and Emily served as its president until her death on September 23, 1989. Bishop Appleyard flew from Rhode Island to conduct her service at the Convent chapel, while a memorial service was held at Calvary Church.

<The Episcopal Healing Ministry Foundation>

Sources: The Episcopal Healing Ministry Foundation

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