Will Willimon, one of the church’s most widely published writers and a professor of the practice of Christian ministry at Duke Divinity School, has written his first novel, Incorporation , which portrays the saints and sinners in a large fictional church.
Published in October by Cascade Books, the novel takes readers on a rollicking ride through the Sundays of Easter in a church in the Midwest called “Hope.” Squabbling clergy, staff meeting slap downs, sins of the spirit, and sins of the flesh mix it up at Hope with divine revelation, mystery, and moments of gentle grace.
A cast of unforgettable characters show the all-too-human aspects of the holy church and also the need for God’s grace amid their wild, funny, often pathetic adventures and misadventures in the Body of Christ.
Willimon, the former dean of Duke Chapel, returned to Duke University this semester after serving eight years as bishop of the United Methodist Church in Alabama. His 61 previous books have sold over a million copies. Willimon’s books on the church and ministry are used in dozens of seminary classrooms around the world.
Duke’s renowned humorous novelist, Michael Malone, calls Willimon’s novel a book that “is full of insightful humor and wonderful irony,” as well as a book in which Anthony Trollope meets Flannery O’Connor and the church is viewed with irony and grace.
“Fiction has always been important to me,” said Willimon. “I’ve taught courses at Duke and elsewhere that use novels to provide insight into human behavior. Now I hope that with Incorporation I’ll give insight into the church and its clergy—and provide much entertaining fun along the way.”