William Henry Willimon

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William Henry Willimon
William Henry Willimon (2011).jpg
Willimon in 2011
Born (1946-05-15) May 15, 1946 (age 73)
Patricia Parker (m. 1969)
ChildrenHarriet and William

William Henry Willimon (born May 15, 1946) is an American theologian and bishop in the United Methodist Church, who served the North Alabama Conference. He is currently Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at Duke Divinity School. He is former Dean of the Chapel at Duke University and is considered by many as one of America's best-known and most influential preachers.[1][2][3] A Pulpit & Pew Research on Pastoral Leadership survey determined that he was one of the two most frequently read writers by pastors in mainline Protestantism alongside Henri Nouwen.[4] His books have sold over a million copies. He is also Editor-At-Large of The Christian Century.[5]


Bishop Willimon, originally from South Carolina and raised at Buncombe Street UMC in Greenville, SC, received a B.A. from Wofford College in 1968, a M. Div. from Yale Divinity School in 1971, and an S.T.D. from Emory University in 1973. He has also received several honorary doctorates. Willimon is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.

Professional life[edit]

He was elected to the episcopacy in 2004. He was assigned to the Northern Alabama Annual Conference. He retired from the episcopacy at the conclusion of the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in 2012.

In 2013 he was appointed pastor of the Duke Memorial United Methodist Church in Durham, North Carolina.

With his stress on the wisdom of the Church through the centuries, he is sometimes associated with the post-liberal movement and narrative theology.

He has written 60 books, garnering a reputation as an outstanding preacher, being named in a 1996 Baylor University survey along with Billy Graham as one of the 12 best preachers in the English-speaking world.

He was, with Prof. Joel B. Green, the general editor of The Wesley Study Bible, published in 2009.

A former student, Michael A. Turner, says about Willimon in the book A Peculiar Prophet which he co-authored with William F. Malambri: "First and foremost Willimon is a pastoral theologian whose primary message is that the God revealed in Jesus matters for everything in life. Thus his most influential work has been in calling the Church to be a faithful witness to the God revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ." In the same book, they also say: "Willimon, it seems, never tires of telling the Church just how distinctive our way of life should be because of the particular God who has captured us."

Personal life[edit]

He married Patricia Parker on June 7, 1969. They have two children: Harriet and William.

Partial list of works[edit]

  • Turning The World Upside Down, The Story of Sarah and Angelina Grimke (1972) ISBN 0-87844-011-9
  • Remember Who You Are: Baptism, a Model for Christian Life (1980) ISBN 0-8358-0399-6
  • Sunday Dinner: The Lord's Supper and the Christian Life (1981) ISBN 0-8358-0429-1
  • With Glad and Generous Hearts: A Personal Look at Sunday Worship (1986) ISBN 0-8358-0536-0
  • Why I am a United Methodist (1990) ISBN 978-0-687-45356-6
  • Undone by Easter: Keeping Preaching Fresh (2009) ISBN 978-1-4267-0013-2
  • Pastor: The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry ISBN 0-687-04532-0
  • Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony (with Stanley Hauerwas) ISBN 0-687-36159-1
  • Calling & Character: Virtues of the Ordained Life ISBN 0-687-09033-4
  • Acts in the Interpretation commentary series ISBN 0-8042-3119-2
  • Rekindling the Flame: Strategies for a Vital United Methodism (with Robert L. Wilson) ISBN 0-687-35932-5
  • "To the Church Called Mainline" in Christianity Today (Oct. 25, 1999 issue)
  • Who Will Be Saved? (2008) ISBN 978-0-687-65119-1

Ordained Ministry[edit]

  • Pastor, Level Creek UMC, Buford, GA, 1971
  • Associate Pastor, Broad St. UMC, Clinton, SC 1971–73
  • Pastor, Trinity UMC, North Myrtle Beach, SC, 1973–76
  • Pastor, Northside UMC, Greenville, SC, 1980–84
  • Duke University, Durham, NC, 1984-2004 (one of the youngest professors in the history of Duke Divinity School)
  • Dean, Duke Chapel, Duke University, Durham, NC, 1989-2004
  • Bishop, North Alabama, 2004-2012
  • Duke University, Durham, NC, 2012- (professor of the practice of Christian Ministry)
  • Pastor, Duke Memorial UMC, Durham, NC

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Bishop Willimon Among 25 Most Influential Preachers". Northalabamaumc.org. 2010-02-07. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
  2. ^ "Washington National Cathedral : Biography for The Rev. Dr. William H. Willimon". Nationalcathedral.org. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
  3. ^ "The Belltower, Samford University". .samford.edu. 2008-02-08. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
  4. ^ Carroll, Jackson W. "Pastors' Picks: What Preachers Are Reading". Pulpit & Pew Research on Pastoral Leadership. Duke University Divinity School. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  5. ^ "Home". Northalabamaumc.org. Retrieved 2012-07-04.

External links[edit]