Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Missouri Baptist University Lecture Series

I attended the fall lecture series today at Missouri Baptist University at the invitation of their president, Alton Lacey. Their guest this year is Dr. William Willimon, Bishop of the United Methodist Church Conference in North Alabama. For twenty years he was Dean of the Chapel and Professor of Christian Ministry at Duke University. Dr. Willimon has authored more than sixty books and his Worship as Pastoral Care was selected as one of the ten most useful books for pastors by the Academy of Parish Clergy.

In 1996, an international survey conducted by Baylor University named him one of the Twelve Most Effective Preachers in the English-speaking world. Bishop Willimon, orginially from South Carolina and raised at Buncombe Street UMC in Greenville, SC, received a B.A. from Wofford College in 1968, 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. He married Patricia Parker on June 7, 1969. They have two children: Harriet and William.

I participated in a pastor's retreat with Dr. Willimon a few years ago. He is a gifted speaker and skilled church leader. I am sure serving with university students for twenty years helped to refine his gifts. A university or college setting is a tough audience.

Following his message I participated in the clergy luncheon and informal discussion with Dr. Willimon. The group had a good discussion on a range of subjects including worship styles, reaching the younger generations, and the lack of "church growth" in North American. I appreciated his insights and perspectives. You can follow his blog at http://willimon.blogspot.com/.


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