as of July 2021
William B. Lawrence is an ordained Elder in The United Methodist Church and has been retired as a clergy member of the North Texas Annual Conference since 2018. He is Professor Emeritus of American Church History at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. He is also a Research Fellow in the Center for Studies in the Wesleyan Tradition at the Divinity School of Duke University.
Bill and his wife Naomi celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2019. They live in the Briar Chapel community in north Chatham County. They have two sons and five grandchildren—the three oldest of whom are in Atlanta, while the two youngest are in the community of Bynum in Chatham County.
Educated at Duke University (BA in Religion, conferred with distinction), Union Theological Seminary in New York (M. Div.), and Drew University (Ph. D., conferred with distinction), Bill has been an ordained minister in the denomination for fifty years. Half of his appointments have been to local churches in Pennsylvania, New York, and Washington, DC, and as a district superintendent. Half of his appointments have been to academic positions at Duke, Emory, and Southern Methodist University.
During his years on the Duke Divinity School faculty, he was a member of the North Carolina Conference. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he was Associate Director of the Ormond Center and was project manager of the Lilly Endowment study of United Methodism and American Culture.
His service to the church has included memberships on the Boards of Ordained Ministry in three annual conferences, a term on the board of directors of the church’s General Commission on Religion and Race, and eight years as a member of the Judicial Council—four of them as President of the Judicial Council. He is the author or editor of eight books, most recently A Methodist Requiem: Words of Hope and Resurrection for the Church. Early this year, he published an extended essay in the journal Methodist Review titled, “A Question of Doctrine: Whither The United Methodist Church?” It followed an earlier essay, co-authored with Dr. Sally Curtis Askew that is titled, “Constitutional Methodism in Crisis.”