The Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church elected Duke's William H. Willimon as a new bishop during the group's annual conference. Willimon, who joined the faculty of the Duke Divinity School in 1976, was named minister to the university in 1984 and dean of Duke Chapel and professor of Christian ministry five years later.
"Duke Chapel is an amazing place to be," Willimon says. "I've got the best job for a Methodist minister in the world. I've done it for twenty years and would have been happy to do it for the rest of my life."
Willimon assumes his new role in Birmingham, Alabama, in September. He will be responsible for appointing up to 200 pastors each year. He will also serve as "pastor to the pastors," overseeing as many as 600 at a time.
In press accounts, Willimon was quoted as saying that what he will miss most about Duke will be the students and his "front-row seat on the next generation." He told reporters that he hopes that his passion for engaging young people will carry over into his work as bishop. "We've lost lots of young people, almost two generations. I want to get my church back in touch with this generation--it's a great generation that God is doing amazing things with."