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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. A Pew Foundation Survey said he was one of the two most frequently read writers by pastors in mainline Protestantism (Henri Nouwen also noted). His books have sold over a million copies. He is also Editor-At-Large of The Christian Century.
Bishop Willimon, originally from South Carolina and raised at Buncombe Street UMC in Greenville, SC, received a B.A. from Wofford College in 1968 where he become a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, an 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.
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.
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."
He married Patricia Parker on June 7, 1969. They have two children: Harriet and William.