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The Passionate Jesus

Day1 host Peter Wallace's new book on the emotions of Jesus is, according to Marcus Borg, “An illuminating and powerful personal meditation." Ideal for personal or group study.

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The Rev. Dr. William L. Self

The late Rev. Dr. Bill Self was a masterful preacher, a prominent Baptist leader, and a leader in the Alliance for Christian Media.

Member of:

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Dr. William L. "Bill" Self, prominent Baptist leader and longtime Atlanta-area pastor, died Jan. 9, 2016, from complications of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis - also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease - one day shy of his 84th birthday.

Bill was pastor emeritus of Johns Creek Baptist Church - formerly First Baptist Church of Chamblee - where he served as senior pastor from 1991 to 2012. Previously he pastored the Wieuca Road Baptist Church from 1964 to 1990. More recently, Bill taught at Mercer University's McAfee School of Theology winter and spring of 2015, and served as chairman of Day 1 radio ministries, formerly the Protestant Hour. He also was a frequent speaker on that program. He was a 2014 recipient of the Candler Centennial Medal, given by the Candler School of Theology of Emory University, for extraordinary service to the school, church and society for the last century. Bill was a 1971 graduate of that school, earning the doctor of theology degree.

An unapologetic optimist, Bill was a visionary leader. His strong pulpit style, intellect, humor and evangelistic zeal impacted tens of thousands of people - not just in metropolitan Atlanta, but throughout the nation and around the world. Preaching was Bill's passion. His sermons - renowned for their clarity and boldness - impacted all generations, race and gender. He often said with a grin, "I have something to offend everyone." He also admitted to being "an evangelist disguised as a pastor." Although a Southern Baptist for much of his ministry, he was uncomfortable with the fundamentalist direction of the convention and helped create and support the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, an organization of moderate Baptists in 1991.

Bill was born Jan. 10, 1932, to Edgar and Della Self in Winston Salem, N.C. Following the unexpected death of his father, Bill and his mother moved to Delray Beach, FL. When he was 13, Bill acknowledged God's call into full-time Christian ministry and began speaking in area churches. He attended Seacrest High School, where he was on the football team and played trombone in the band. Upon graduation he enrolled in Stetson University. As a college student, Bill worked as part-time pastor of a small church in Palatka, Fla., and also was elected state president of the Baptist Student Union. He and a team of students held summer revival services throughout Florida.

Bill and Carolyn met at Stetson and were married his senior year. He graduated from Stetson in 1954 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, then returned to North Carolina, earning a bachelor of divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1957. He remained in North Carolina and became the first full-time pastor of Edgemont Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, serving from 1957 to 1960. During his second year there, Edgemont was named "Church of the Year" by the North Carolina Baptist Convention. He was also elected vice president of that organization. In 1960 Bill went back to Florida to pastor West Bradenton Baptist Church for four years. The church grew rapidly. He cultivated a relationship with the local business community and was elected president of the Bradenton Chamber of Commerce.

The Wieuca Road Baptist Church in Atlanta called Bill as pastor in 1964. Under his guidance, that church experienced tremendous growth, becoming one of the most innovative and influential churches in America. To help expand the ministry of the Wieuca Road church, Bill became a weekly guest on WSB-TV's "Today in Georgia" morning talk show, a privilege which lasted 16 years. He also joined both the Buckhead Coalition and the Buckhead Business Association, becoming president of the latter in 1990.

Bill was one of the first Baptist pastors to endorse and promote ordination of women as both deacons and ministers. He also embraced early on acceptance of single adults - never married, widowed and divorced - into all aspects of church life. The rapid growth of the Wieuca Road church attracted much attention, elevating Bill's prominence among Baptists locally and nationally. He was elected president of the Georgia Baptist Convention, president of the Georgia Baptist Pastors' Conference, and chair of the Georgia Baptist Executive Committee. On the national level, he served as president of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and second vice president of the SBC. In 1977 he preached the annual sermon - the showcase event - at the Southern Baptist Convention in Kansas City, MO.

Bill was a much-sought-after speaker for business and professional meetings, as well as college and seminary convocations and special assemblies. He was guest speaker several times at the Annual National Conference of Preaching and International Congress of Preaching in London, sponsored by "Preaching" magazine, and was the 1978 speaker for the Governor's Prayer Breakfast. The Billy Graham Crusades School of Evangelism recruited Bill to speak at numerous venues throughout the world. He also preached in various churches and missions both in the United States and abroad.

At a time when many people look toward retirement, Bill decided to start over. In 1991, just before his 60th birthday, he became pastor of the First Baptist Church of Chamblee - a struggling congregation trying to survive. He led the relocation of that church to Johns Creek, changing the name to Johns Creek Baptist Church. The church experienced phenomenal growth in organization, finances, and membership. Within his 21 years there, he guided the planning and construction of four buildings and the total reorganization of the teaching program.

Bill wrote four books, including his most recent, "Surviving the Stained Glass Jungle," about his years as a pastor. He also co-authored five more books with Carolyn and frequently wrote numerous articles for various publications.

Some of his other honors and accomplishments include: Appointed special ambassador by President Gerald Ford to the inauguration of William Tolbert as president of Liberia. As part of his special assignment, he discussed Idi Amin's relationship with the United States. Invited to the Republic of Korea by Prime Minister Kim Jung Pil to negotiate religious liberty issues Invited by the government of Republic of China to visit Taiwan, during which he met with the president, secretary of state and other leaders. Chair, Board of Visitors, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University.Board member, Baptist House of Studies, Duke Divinity School. Trustee, Mercer University. William L. Self Preaching Lectureship established at McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University. Received the Louie D. Newton Award for Service to Mercer University. Received the W. Lee Arrandale Award for Vocational Excellence 2000-2001 by the Rotary International District 6910, sponsored by The Rotary Club of Johns Creek.Received the Distinguished Alumnus Award, 2007, by Candler School of Theology, Emory University. Chair, Board of Visitors, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University; Annual lectures on preaching at Erskine Theological Seminary (Associated Reformed Presbyterian), 1972, and Golden Gate Theological Seminary, 1978. Lecturer on preaching at Salvation Army Training School 1993, 1994, 1995. Featured speaker for "Day 1" Armed Forces Radio program, 2010. Served on Board of Trustees of the Alliance for Christian Media, and on Advisory Committee of Day 1, Received honorary degrees from Stetson University; Mercer University; Han Yang University in Seoul, Korea; and Campbell University.


Latest Content by The Rev. Dr. William L. Self

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self

The Struggle to Believe

Luke 2:22-40

1st Sunday after Christmas - Year B

December 28, 2014

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

At this season of the year we live between two worlds:  one is dying and the other is struggling to be born. To live this way is as dangerous as eating wormy figs in the dark. Our scripture focuses on Simeon and Anna, two faithful servants of God who served for years in the temple at Jerusalem. We see their joy when the Christ Child was presented to them. As I read this passage, my mind took a detour around its main thrust and wondered about all those years they had waited for this event. Did they ever wonder if God would be faithful to His word to them?  Did they ever wonder if they had been deceived by the teachers in the temple about the Messiah? In short, did they ever doubt?  For doubt infects even the best of God's servants.

Read full transcript...
The Rev. Dr. William L. Self

While It Was Still Dark

John 20:1-18

Easter - Year C

March 31, 2013

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

Early one morning I was reading this text preparing myself for this sermon and there it was; I could not get beyond it. It demanded that I address it in the sermon. I had read this text all my life, but it had never captured my attention in the past. The words were demanding my attention. The text tells the story of Mary Magdalene going to the tomb of Jesus early on the first day of the week, and then the text says, "While it was still dark..." I know it was in all likelihood meant by John to be only a reference to the time of day, but for me it opened my imagination to a deeper understanding of the text.

Read full transcript...

Other Recent Content by The Rev. Dr. William L. Self

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self Transcript

March 24, 2013

King for a Day

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

As we celebrate Palm Sunday, Dr. Bill Self calls us not to join the throngs proclaiming Jesus King for a Day, but rather to make Jesus Lord of our lives.
The Rev. Dr. William L. Self Transcript

November 13, 2011

The Church IS Worth the Effort!

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

Despite all its dysfunction and scars, all its confusion and humanity, the church is worth the effort, because it is doing the work of the kingdom of God in the world.
The Rev. Dr. William L. Self Transcript

November 22, 2009

What Do You Want with Me, Jesus?

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

Dr. Bill Self digs into the dramatic story of the healing of the demoniac from Mark 5, and introduces us to Jesus the Tormentor, the Liberator, and the Disturber.
The Rev. Dr. William L. Self

Expect the Best in Others - A Good Day with Dr. Bill Self

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. Bill Self, a trusted motivational leader, reminds us of the goodness of others in this message of faith and hope. Polish someone else's halo for once.

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self

Hold Fast to Dreams - A Good Day with Dr. Bill Self

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self brings you positive and powerful messages of faith and hope as a trusted motivational leader. This time discussing the importance of sticking to your dreams, no matter what the challenges, because one day they will come true.
The Rev. Dr. William L. Self

Conquering Difficulties - A Good Day with Rev. Dr. Bill Self

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

Rev. Dr. Bill Self discusses the difficulties of all human life and the importance of persevering through the hardships that make life beautiful. A Good Day with Dr. Bill Self.
The Rev. Dr. William L. Self

Grow Into Maturity - A Good Day with Rev. Dr. Bill Self

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. Bill Self discusses the meaning of maturity and growing up in an inspirational message from Day1 and Growfaith.
The Rev. Dr. William L. Self

Stop Putting It Off - A Good Day with the Rev. Dr. Bill Self

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

Need some motivation? The Rev. Dr. Bill Self gives an inspirational message of motivation to get it done today, because tomorrow may be too late. A Good Day with the Rev. Dr. Bill Self.
The Rev. Dr. William L. Self

Watch Who You Follow - A Good Day with Dr. Bill Self

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self brings you positive and powerful messages of faith and hope as a trusted motivational leader. This time discussing the importance of being cautious about the path you follow, and those who lead you down them.

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self

Enjoy the Rain - A Good Day with Dr. Bill Self

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self brings you positive and powerful messages of faith and hope as a trusted motivational leader. The hardship of a rain storm can test us, but we must learn to love that challenge as a sign of the very life we have been given.
The Rev. Dr. William L. Self

Take a Risk - A Good Day with Dr. Bill Self

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self brings you positive and powerful messages as a trusted motivational leader. These public service announcements were produced by Day1 Radio listeners and bring hopeful messages of inspiration to our programming.
The Rev. Dr. William L. Self

Dream Big - A Good Day with Dr. Bill Self

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self brings you positive and powerful messages you will cherish and can help guide you in tough times. Have big dreams and big things will follow.
The Rev. Dr. William L. Self

Follow Life's Rules - A Good Day with Dr. Bill Self

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

Dr. Bill Self brings you positive powerful messages of hope and faith. Produced by Day1.
The Rev. Dr. William L. Self Transcript

January 27, 2008

Cobwebs on the Confessional

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. Bill Self explains that sin is alienation from God and call us to repentance where we turn our lives in a new direction according to God's will.

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self Transcript

April 15, 2007

Doubt--The Prelude to Faith

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. Bill Self explores the differnece between doubt that robs us of our faith and doubt that lead to deeper, transformational faith.

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self Transcript

April 08, 2007

Is There Any Hope?

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. Bill Self reminds us that hope comes from faith in the resurrected God who is present in every moment of our lives.

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self Transcript

July 09, 2006

Getting the Sand Out of the Gears

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self, senior pastor of Johns Creek Baptist Church, Alpharetta, Georgia, takes a look at the debilitating role of fear in our lives.

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self Transcript

July 02, 2006

What God Has Put Asunder, Let No Man Join Together

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. Bill Self, pastor of Johns Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, emphasizes the historical and biblical imperative for the separation of church and state.

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self Transcript

December 18, 2005

Have I Got News For You!

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. Bill Self is pastor of Johns Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA, and a member of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self Transcript

April 17, 2005

On Being Pursued by the Black Dog

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. Bill Self is pastor of Johns Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA, and a member of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self Transcript

April 10, 2005

Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. Bill Self is pastor of Johns Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA, and a member of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self Transcript

November 28, 2004

The Waiting Place

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Bill Self is the pastor of John's Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Georgia.

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self Transcript

September 26, 2004

Swimming to the Deep End of the Pool

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Bill Self is the pastor of John's Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Georgia.

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self Transcript

August 15, 2004

Magic Eyes

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. Bill Self, pastor of John's Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, helps us look at the world through forgiving eyes.

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self Transcript

July 04, 2004

Speechless

The Rev. Dr. William L. Self (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. William Self, senior pastor of John's Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, tackles the difficult issue of what to say to others in difficult times--"funeral home theology."