William L. Self Preaching Lectures


Proclaiming the Word and (Metaphorically) Handling Serpents: A Dangerous Wonder

Featuring Dr. Bill Leonard, Wake Forest University School of Divinity

February 6-7, 2017 

Mercer University, Atlanta Campus

3001 Mercer University Dr., Atlanta 30341

All Lectures held in Cecil B. Day Hall 

Watch or listen to the 2017 Lectures Online

Stream Lecture 1 - A Hart Cheareing and Affecting Surmond: Appalachian Preaching and the Wonder of the Word

Stream Lecture 2 - As One Unknown: Preaching and the Illusive Jesus

Stream Lecture 3 - A Shelter for Conscience: Preaching and the Voice of Dissent

The William L. Self Lectureship at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology was established in order to promote the practice of faithful and effective preaching of the gospel. The lecture series is named in memory of Dr. William L. Self, Pastor Emeritus of Johns Creek Baptist Church, Alpharetta, who was nationally recognized as a gifted preacher, pastor, author, lecturer, motivational speaker, and innovator in church growth. Dr. Self achieved considerable acclaim by leading Wieuca Road Baptist Church, Atlanta, to a place of prominence in Georgia and the nation. As pastor of Johns Creek, his leadership and influence brought the church to the vanguard of fast-growing churches. 

The purpose of the lectureship is to enlighten and inspire those whose calling is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The lectures seek to instill in students and pastors a passion for better preaching by providing worthy models and by offering seasoned instruction and encouragement. Each year the lecture series features a nationally recognized preacher. This year we are honored to welcome the Dr. Bill Leonard as our featured speaker.

About the Speaker

Dr. Bill Leonard joined the faculty at Wake Forest in 1996 with joint appointments in the School of Divinity and the Department of Religion. He was founding dean of the School of Divinity, which opened in 1999, and retired from that role in the spring of 2010.

His research focuses on church history, with particular attention to American religion, Baptist studies and Appalachian religion. He is author or editor of 24 books, including Christianity in Appalachia (1999), Baptist Ways: A History (2003), The Challenge of Being Baptist (2010), Can I Get a Witness? Essays, Sermons and Reflections (2013) and A Sense of the Heart: Christian Religious Experience in the U.S. (2014).

Prior to his tenure at Wake Forest, Dr. Leonard served as professor of church history at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, from 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 1992-1996 he was chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Texas Wesleyan College, Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Ph.D. from Boston University, and served as pastor of First Community Church in Southboro, Massachusetts, from 1971-1975.

Schedule of Events


Monday Evening, February 6

Tuesday Morning, February 7

4:00 p.m.

A Hart Cheareing and Affecting Surmond:

Appalachian Preaching and the Wonder of the Word

9:30 a.m.

Coffee and Conversation

2nd Floor – Theology Bldg.

5:30 p.m.

Dinner (RSVP required)

Atlanta Trustees Dining Room

11:00 a.m.

A Shelter for Conscience:

Preaching and the Voice of Dissent

7:00 p.m.

As One Unknown: Preaching and

the Illusive Jesus