William B. Lawrence is an ordained Elder in The United Methodist Church and a clergy member of the North Texas Annual Conference in the retired relationship. He is Professor Emeritus of American Church History at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, Texas. He is also a Research Fellow in the Center for Studies in the Wesleyan Tradition at the Divinity School of Duke University. And he holds an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from LaGrange College.
Born in Wilkes-Barre, he attended the public schools in Newport Township and graduated as the valedictorian of his class. Both of his parents and his grandparents were members of the Alden Methodist Church, where he attended Sunday School and was an active member of the youth fellowship. He has one sister, Peggy Hamilton, who resides in Nanticoke.
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), he has been an ordained minister in the denomination for fifty years. Half of the appointments in his career have been to local churches in Pennsylvania, New York, and Washington, DC, and to the district superintendency. Half of his appointments have been academic placements at Duke, Emory, and Southern Methodist University. His service to the church has included memberships on 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 Council. He is the author or editor of eight books, the most recent of which is A Methodist Requiem: Words of Hope and Resurrection for the Church.
Dr. Lawrence and his wife Naomi celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary in May 2019. Naomi is a retired registered nurse. They live in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. As parents of two adult sons and grandparents of five, who range in ages from 15 to 5, they enjoy reading, family time, and participation in local church activities in their area. Dr. Lawrence continues to write, comment, consult, and speak on topics of Methodist history and polity.