Dr. Kenneth Neal is the pastor at Pentecostal Church of the Apostolic Faith in Leavenworth, a church that recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Neal has been a pastor for more than 26 years, and is recognized as a renowned speaker throughout the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World.
Throughout his career, he has led training seminars in counseling and community development, alcoholism, crime in the inner city, child abuse, and working with misplaced youth.
Here, he discusses his career, pastoral duties and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
1. Dr. Neal, as the first African-American student to be elected president of the Future Teachers Association of Kansas, what does Martin Luther King's legacy mean to you?
"For me, Dr. King's legacy means that you should set your goals high, aim for the moon, and if you land among the stars, you're still beyond the Earth.
"You will never know what you can do until you take that first step, believing that you are giving all that is within you to obtain your goal.
"The race of life is not given to the swift nor the strong, but to him that endures to the end. I have always had this thought — it's not how you start, but how you finish.
"And, it is not the color of your skin, but the ability and confidence to obtain your goals in life. You've got to be a dreamer."
2. When you attained your numerous degrees, including Doctor of Divinity, was Dr. King an inspiration to you?
"Yes, Dr. King was an inspiration to me. He was a man born in due time, used by God to heighten awareness of the needs of all mankind, but especially the poor, minorities and under-served. He died by the very violence he deplored and preached against.
"His violent death had a greater impact than if he had simply died of old age. He was an inspiration to me due to the fact that if you do all you can to make this world a better place, then you have lived to die and you die to live again.
"Remember, he said, 'I may not get there with you, but I've seen the Promised Land.'"
3. As pastor of the Pentecostal Church of the Apostolic Faith, which recently celebrated its 100th birthday, what programs are you most proud of?
"The church's community food pantry has helped hundreds of people in the city. Everywhere I go, people of all races and nationalities say to me that, 'The little church on the corner of Fifth Avenue has helped me.'
"The pastors before me were men who loved this community. I hear stories of how people of all races were helped by this church, and my motto is: 'This is the church where everybody is somebody and nobody is a stranger, you belong here.'"
Page 2 of 2 - 4. The church has also begun renovations of the Sumner School, a historical site which was the first African American School in Leavenworth and the first to receive federal funding. How are the renovations coming, and once completed, will the school be on the Historical Register?
"The school is currently on the National Park and Historical Registry.
"The plans for the school include a community outreach center for youth and seniors."
5. Can you tell us about preaching your first sermon at the age of 5. As a pastor, do you feel that you have turned your lifelong dream into reality, and how would you advise young people to find motivation, stay focused, and achieve their goals?
"I remember the late Bishop Herbert Davis (pastor at that time) let me stand on a stool because I was so short. My subject was, 'There is a River Whose Streams Make Glad the City, Psalms 46:4.' I never dreamed that some 55 years later, I would be the pastor of that same church. Set your goals for life and let no man or thing stop you.
"I was not raised by my mother and father, but I said that nothing or nobody would stop my dream.
"It's not where you come from, but where you want to go. It's not who you are, it's who you want to be in the end."
— Rimsie McConiga