The Rev. Dr. Bill J. Leonard

Denomination: Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF)
Organization: Wake Forest University School of Divinity

Bill J. Leonard is the founding dean and professor of Church History at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He holds the B.A. from Texas Wesleyan College (1968), the Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1971), and the PhD from Boston University (1975). He served as pastor of First Community Church, Southboro, Massachusetts, 1971-1975.

Leonard served as Professor of Church History at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, 1975-1992. While there he was for a time Associate Dean, President of the Faculty Association, editor of the Review and Expositor, and W. W. Brooks Professor of American Religion. From 1992 to 1996 he was Chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama.

In 1996 he joined the faculty of Wake Forest University with joint appointments in the School of Divinity and the Department of Religion. He was the founding dean of the School of Divinity which began in 1999. He retired from that role in the spring of 2010.

Leonard also served as visiting lecturer at Yale Divinity School (1981) and at the Seinan Gakuin University in Fukuoka, Japan (1988-89). From 1988 to 1995 he was a member of the summer faculty of the Appalachian Ministries Educational Resource Center based in Berea, Kentucky. He serves on the board of the Appalachian Ministries Educational Resource Center and the editorial board of the Journal of Religion, Disability and Health. An ordained Baptist minister, Leonard has served as interim pastor of over 25 congregations in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Kentucky, Indiana and North Carolina.

Leonard is the author or editor of some 15 books including The Nature of the Church; Word of God Across the Ages: Using Church History in Preaching; God's Last and Only Hope: The Fragmentation of the Southern Baptist Convention; Appalachian Christianity: Profiles in Regional Pluralism; Baptist Ways: A History; and Baptists in America. His most recent books are Baptist Questions, Baptist Answers, and The Baptist Bible (co-editor), both published in 2009. Leonard is also the author of over 400 articles published in a variety of journals, periodicals and books.

He is a frequent lecturer on college and university campuses including Baylor University, Mercer University, Samford University, East Carolina University, the University of Richmond, Berea College, Columbia College, Oklahoma Baptist College, Eastern College, Carson Newman College, and Texas Wesleyan College as well as theological seminaries and divinity schools in the United States, Canada, England, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Romania, Hong Kong and Japan. He has received or participated in grants from the Lilly Endowment, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, the Mellon Foundation, the Luce Foundation, the Carpenter Foundation, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation, the Wabash Center, and the Louisville Institute. His specialization in American and Southern studies makes him a frequent commentator on popular religion in the U.S., with frequent interviews in newspapers, magazines, radio and television.

His spouse, Dr. Candyce Crew Leonard, is professor of Humanities at Wake Forest University with specialization in Spanish literature. They have one daughter, Stephanie. The Leonards are members of First Baptist Church, Highland Avenue, the oldest African American Baptist congregation in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.


Day1 Weekly Programs by The Rev. Dr. Bill J. Leonard

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Pursuing the Prophetic

Tuesday January 11, 2011
The Rev. Dr. Bill Leonard examines the prophet John the Baptist, who boldly described Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29-42). Prophets like John help us get our bearings in the world--and call us to respond in faith.

The River

Tuesday January 04, 2011
The Rev. Dr. Bill Leonard takes a look at Jesus' baptism (Matthew 3:13-17), and helps us gain a fresh appreciation for the sacrament that unites us with Christian community.