Accidental Preacher: A Memoir

Will Willimon
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Published Year: 
Cover image of a church for Will Willimon memoir

Will Willimon, professor of the practice of Christian ministry at Duke Divinity School and an eminent Christian preacher and leader, has written a memoir of memorable moments from his rich and full preaching life of almost five decades. The memoir, Accidental Preacher: A Memoir, will be published July 16 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

With his signature wit and humor, Willimon portrays the adventure of a life caught up in the purposes of a God who calls unlikely people to engage in work greater than themselves. Willimon begins with his childhood in a segregated South and moves through his student years before giving candid, inspiring, and humorous testimony to his experiences as a seminary professor, rural pastor, globe-trotting preacher, bishop, and popular theologian and writer. Above all, he shows how God has constantly had a call on his life. 

“The most interesting thing about me is that, against all odds, God has handed me some outrageous assignments. I got called,” says Willimon about his memoir. “I’d be pleased if readers have fun reading about how much fun I’ve had in Christian ministry. If my readers come away with a new sense of their own vocation, that would be great too. What an interesting God we’ve got in the Trinity!” 

This personal and vocational memoir by Willimon also includes an afterword by Duke Divinity School Professor Kate Bowler, whose 2018 memoir Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Loved) became a New York Times bestseller as the American prosperity gospel expert chronicled her struggle to understand the personal and intellectual dimensions of the American belief that all tragedies are tests of character after being diagnosed with cancer. In the book’s afterword, Bowler states, “This book is an invitation to experience wonderment at the vagaries and beauty of being called. And a reminder of the sense of adventure that a life with God should be. We ought to live in such a way that we are both expectant of and bewildered by the miracles concocted from our lives—our hopes, quirks, and gifts.”

Willimon is an internationally renowned preacher and widely read author of more than 70 books, with more than a million copies of his books having been sold worldwide. He received his M.Div. at Yale Divinity School, a S.T.D. from Emory University, and honorary degrees from a number of colleges and universities.

A bishop and elder in the United Methodist Church, Willimon served as the dean of Duke Chapel and professor of Christian ministry at Duke University for 20 years. He returned in 2012 to Duke Divinity School, where he is a professor and the director of the Doctor of Ministry Program, after serving as the bishop of the North Alabama Conference from 2004 to 2012.

Visit Will Willimon’s blog “A Peculiar Prophet” featuring articles, sermons, and lectures by Willimon.

See a video of Willimon talking about his 2017 book Who Lynched Willie Earle? Preaching to Confront Racism.