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, Liturgy, Worship 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.