Welcome to the blog of Bishop Will Willimon, Professor of the Practice of Ministry, Duke Divinity School.  Here you will find articles, sermons, lectures and other offerings from Will Willimon.


Being Christian in the World

I share another sermon with you, hosted by A Sermon for Every Sunday, where I am working with the reality that none of us is born Christian. We have to be taught.  And it’s easy enough when we are sitting in a church pew or in a Sunday school class, to feel like a Christian.  But what happens when we walk out into the world?  How do you live like a Christian in a world like this?

Take a listen, and blessings to you as you work to proclaim the good news again this Sunday!



Fishing, Failure, and A Future

Late in life I got into fly fishing. The thing that impresses one about fly fishing, an aspect of the sport that stays with you no matter how long you practice it, is failure. The Christian life is like that in many ways. You practice and practice and think you’ve got it just right and you still fail. I am sharing with you a sermon I put together for A Sermon for Every Sunday. I hope it can help you in your preparation to preach the Easter news again this week!



UMC will continue to be in disagreement

From a recent interview I had with our local paper, The News & Observer:

“Disagreement has been a hallmark of Methodism throughout the denomination’s history, before and after the United Methodist Church was formed through the 1968 convergence of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church.

The United Methodist churches he pastored before he retired were typical in that way, said William Willimon, a member of the Council of Bishops and a professor of the practice of Christian Ministry at the Duke Divinity School.

When it comes to matters of policy and practice — of mission and ministry, Willimon said in a phone interview after the General Conference vote — United Methodists understand that almost no congregation will ever be of one mind.

‘The churches I know just carry on, and recognize that we have people with different opinions who don’t like each other, and who disapprove of each other, in the same room,’ Willimon said.

‘That’s what Jesus does. He brings us together with people we don’t especially care for. And that’s called a church.'”

Are Methodists Mirroring a Culture of Division?

Just after the end of the Special Session of General Conference, I had a chance to talk with Jim Wallis and reflect on what happened in St. Louis. Jim offered some commentary on that conversation and where we are in The United Methodist Church with Sojourners, which you can read here. I share a few pieces from our conversation here, too:

“‘I think that God’s way is to handle it around the table in every local church where people are trying together to be the body of Christ,’ Willimon said. And as a bishop, he has seen that happening and happening well in many local churches.

The big challenge is always: ‘How to be part of a church with people you don’t like or agree with. How to try to follow Jesus with the other people who are called to him?’

That diverse ecclesiology reflects the alternative proposal — the ‘One Church Plan’ — that was put forward by the majority of Methodist bishops and for which Willimon and nearly half of the other Methodist delegates voted. In that plan, decisions on LGBTQ ordination and same-sex marriages would be the purview of regional bodies and local congregational levels.”