About Will Willimon

The Reverend Dr. William H. Willimon is Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at the Divinity School, Duke University. He served eight years as Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of The United Methodist Church, where he led the 157,000 Methodists and 792 pastors in North Alabama. For twenty years prior to the episcopacy, he was Dean of the Chapel and Professor of Christian Ministry at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

Dr. Willimon is a graduate of Wofford College (B.A., 1968), Yale Divinity School (M.Div., 1971) and Emory University (S.T.D., 1973). He has served as pastor of churches in Georgia and South Carolina. For four years, beginning in 1976, he served as Assistant Professor of Liturgy and Worship at Duke Divinity School, teaching courses in liturgics and homiletics and served as Director of the Ministerial Course of Study School at Duke, and Presiding Minister in the Divinity School Chapel. When he returned to the parish ministry in 1980, he was Visiting Associate Professor of Liturgy and Worship at Duke for three years. He has been awarded honorary degrees from thirteen colleges and universities including Wofford College, Lehigh University, Colgate University, Birmingham-Southern College, and Moravian Theological Seminary.  In 1992, he was named as the first Distinguished Alumnus of Yale Divinity School. He has served on the faculties of Birmingham-Southern College.

He is the author of roughly one hundred books. His Worship as Pastoral Care was selected as one of the ten most useful books for pastors in 1979 by the Academy of Parish Clergy. Over a million copies of his books have been sold. In 1996, an international survey conducted by Baylor University named him one of the Twelve Most Effective Preachers in the English-speaking world.

Willimon’s articles have appeared in many publications including The Christian Ministry, Quarterly Review, Plough, LiturgyWorship and Christianity Today. For many years he is Editor-at-Large for The Christian Century. He has written church curriculum materials and video for youth, young adults, and adults. His Pulpit Resource is used each week by thousands of pastors in the USA, Canada, and Australia. A 2005 study by the Pulpit and Pew Research Center found that Bishop Willimon is the second most widely read author by mainline Protestant pastors.

Bishop Willimon has given lectures and taught courses at many pastors’ schools and at colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. These include the Belden Lectures at Harvard as well as lectureships at Princeton, Vanderbilt, Pepperdine, and Oxford. In 1998, he served on the theological faculty of the University of Bonn, Germany and in 1991, he was Distinguished Guest Professor at the University of Muenster, Germany. His books have been translated into ten languages.

With his wife, Patricia, he has established endowed scholarships at Wofford College, Birmingham-Southern College, Duke Divinity School, and Yale Divinity School.

He has served three terms on the Board of Trustees, Wofford College, where he is Chair of the Student Experience Committee; chairperson of the University Council Committee for the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale; and on the Board of Overseers for Memorial Church, Harvard University, the Dean’s Committee of Yale Divinity School, and the Boards of Emory, Birmingham-Southern, and Huntingdon Colleges.

25 thoughts on “About Will Willimon

  1. Dr. Willimon: Just a word of thanks for your book, “Calling and Character.” It has been just what I need just when I need it. I marvel at God’s grace that I, a conservative Lutheran, can learn so much from you, a liberal Methodist 🙂 I love the Church! Thanks for your insights! Peter in Wisconsin


  2. I am writing concerning an article you wrote titled “Taking Confirmation Out of the Classroom”. I am wondering if you might have a few moments to talk and answer some questions I have about the article and the process described therein.
    I am the Director of Youth and Family at a Lutheran church in Northern Virginia and I am currently exploring “outside my box” and looking at different ways of making disciples. If you would take a moment to respond to my email, I will respond with my cell phone number.
    Thank you in advance for your consideration of this matter and I look forward to the possibility of talking to you soon.
    DDC in DC


  3. Brother ,


    I have read your blog and website. I am thankful for them. I appreciate your efforts and time taken to write them.

    My name is Abdel and I am sendign this email from Manama, in Bahrain. Brother, you may live ina free world where our faith is not highly tempted as it is here, my wish is that we get to know each other, you agree that we use some of your materials that we can translate into Arabic languages and also if we can get bible gifts from you, friends and people around you to help us distribute them in the coming week in Yemen and Oman.

    Check out my website:


    Hope to hear from you.

    God bless you.



  4. I recently revisited your book, Word, Water, Wine and Bread as our congregation has joined in a study of the Torah. The practical aspects of worship, the work of the people, is often overlooked and those parts that we remember we blithely dismiss in favor of more ‘exciting’ worship add-ins. Your work has helped me bring to life the liturgical practice as work of the congregation and they have found joy in yourwords of revelation. thank you for being a partner in my ministry again. God bless you brother.


  5. Dear Dr. Willimon,

    I’m currently an M.Div. student at Asbury Theological Seminary, and read Calling & Character for one of my classes last year. I had the impression that you were transcribing my thoughts based on having witnessed shockingly low standards for clergy behavior in a half-dozen churches off and on for 30 years. While it’s frustrating that the prevailing viewpoint among church hierarchy seems to be “Pastors are sinners, too, and can’t be expected to live up to any higher standard than anyone else,” having a book that expresses cogently and eloquently what I’ve always believed is quite encouraging. I’ve given several as gifts since, and I do not have any plans to stop!

    Thank you again for your boldness, courage, and obedience to Christ.

    Vivian Ruth Sawyer


  6. Dear Dr Willimon,

    Last Sunday The Anglican Bishop Yu of Toronto referred in his sermon about the raising of the dead, that God had worked through you in raising from the dead a mother in Africa whose daughter was about to be married. Can you confirm the report of this miracle, or perhaps refer me to some written documentation of it? I would be most grateful, since I am keenly interested in accounts of modern miracles, and am already aware of a number of well attested healing miracles – e.g. of people terminally ill with cancer.

    Thank you very much for your time.

    Ian Gentles, Professor of History, Tyndale University College, Toronto, and Emeritus Professor of History, York University, Toronto.


  7. I seem to remember that you were the author of “Thank You, Mrs. DeGraffenried” in “The Christian Century” some time in the early/mid-80s, Dr. Willimon. Is my mind playing an elaborate trick on me? It was such a wonderful piece concerning a woman with a huge heart! I can’t find this story anywhere, and I’m a pretty good “Googler.” Thank you for your ministry!


  8. Dear Will Willimon,

    Noting that you have written articles about Rick Warren, you will wanted to be alerted to the following revelations! I have written two books on him.

    As you know, Rick Warren and Zondervan have posted and published that Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life is: “the bestselling nonfiction hardback book in history” Source: http://www.purposedriven.com/, which they attributed to Publishers Weekly, which you may seen on Purpose Driven or Zondervan’s website, or right on the front cover of the book if you have a copy. Have you ever asked or wondered about these questions about this book?

    Here is the just released chart with the forensic evidence from 20 reputable book sales tracking organizations and scholars showing Rick Warren’s PDL book is way down the list link:


    Hopefully, any questions below that you might have should be answered:

    Have you ever wondered how many books you have to sell to become the bestselling author in history?

    Is there any sales ranking list in the world that states that 32 millions sales makes you #1 in history?

    Kindest regards,

    James Sundquist


  9. Please pray that God will provide us with all the resources required to build our planned international christian school(Camp David Green Academy) in Kenya.

    Waiting upon the Lord.

    In His service,



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  11. Can you help with these questions: What are the boundaries of a generous orthodoxy? When we covenant boundaries be willfully rejected? Who will validate any boundaries? Are you listening to the whole community or only that of the academy? Who will take the blame for those who had tied the milestones of tolerance when accountability is called in to report? Where is the great call for fidelity? Is it possible for persons to living in a covenant relationship and not be sexually attracted? Where is the authenticity of voting in a policy that was rejected by protesters tears just three years ago? Why legitimize voting when squeaky wheels are listened to over official votes? Where is the clear and unrefutable call to transform the church over gender identity legitimization? Can we not love someone for being different and unique without legitimizing sexual behavior?


  12. With your permission, I would like to share significant portions of your article with my Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregation in reflecting on how, after the last couple weeks of presidential politics, a divided nation/state/community/church moves on. Working title: “Political Fasting,” using lectionary passages–>Isaiah 58 and 1 Corinithians 2. Sometimes an “outside voice” allows worshipers to listen for God’s message instead of trying to peg their pastor’s party affiliation. Our rural church ministers in a battle state where negative ads are going to be the air worshipers breathe into November before coming together for weekly Sunday worship.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Your sermon this morning at Grace Church Cathedral, Charleston, was much appreciated by me. The doors to our church and to our hearts will always be open to you.

    Do you have any plans to preach in Charlottesville?


  14. I am a United Methodist pastor serving at First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth. Bishop Willimon has been a “theological hero” of mine for nearly 40 years. I’m wondering if he will offer any short term workshops or classes in 2023?


    1. Thanks, Mike. I’ve been in Texas a couple of times in the past few months but don’t seem to have any plans to be down your way in the coming months. However, would be happy to correspond with you over any issues you’d like to discuss.


      1. Dear Dr. Willimon,

        Have you written anything about the recent Asbury renewal/outpouring/acceptable-term-du-jour?

        I would like to know your thoughts. I have an M.Div. from Asbury Seminary — indeed, that was where I first read your books.

        Thank you!

        Vivian Ruth Sawyer


      2. Vivian:
        I’ve read about the Asbury Revival with interest but I have no first hand knowledge about it, nor any information on it. Sorry! Thanks.


      3. I appreciate your response! I remember you speaking at Texas Wesleyan and using the book “Flatland” to look at the richness of the second chapter of John’s account of the wedding at Cana. My church (First UMC of Fort Worth) is solidly United Methodist, which matches my beliefs and desire for a more progressive future. Before I retire in six years, I’m excited about immersing myself in what I love about our denomination. This year I’m using the Duke Divinity online course (“Rediscovering the Heart of Methodism”) and your recent book for my own reflection. If you will be offering any seminars in Durham this year related to this topic, I would love to know about them. My wife and I enjoy road trips to beautiful parts of the country like North Carolina. MM


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