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Baylor > Religion > Faculty  > William L. Pitts, Jr.

William L. Pitts, Jr.



  • Vanderbilt University, Ph.D. in Religion (Church History) -Dissertation: "World Christianity: The Church History Writing of Kenneth Scott Latourette."
  • Vanderbilt Divinity School, M.Div., Church History concentration
  • Baylor University, B.A., Double Major: History and Religion


Bill Pitts grew up in Duncan, Oklahoma. He earned his BA at Baylor University in history and religion, and took his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in church history at Vanderbilt University.

Pitts taught at Mercer, Houston Baptist and Dallas Baptist before coming to Baylor. He teaches courses in church history and directs The Graduate Program in Religion which is especially designed to prepare future professors.

Pitts has worked extensively with students on travel-study programs to Britain, and has lectured at international conferences. He has enjoyed many extra-professional activities including youth soccer and the Salvation Army.

His academic interest is understanding and communicating the rich heritage of church history.

Academic Interests and Research:

American Christianity, (19th-20th centuries), Baptist History and Identity (17th century England and modern American Baptist trends), Historiography, Spirituality, Christian expansion

Professional Awards and Activities:

Baptist History and Heritage Distinguished Service Award, June 2, 2006

Outstanding Graduate Professor, Baylor University (Graduate Student Association Award) May 3, 2004

Phi Kappa Chi Professor 2005, 2003, 1995

Mortar Board Distinguished Professor, 1993-94

2009 Baptist Studies Committee: visit to libraries at Regents' Park, Oxford, to explore Cooperative ventures, May 2009.

2009 Convener "Missions in America and American Missions", American Society of Church History, Montreal, Canada, April 2009.

2009 Convener and Respondent "On Dissent among Dissenters", AAR/SWCRS, Dallas, March 2009.

2008 Chairman, Bylaws Revision Committee, Baptist History and Heritage Society

2005-2007 Served as Secretary/Treasurer for Southwest Commission on Religious Studies. Organized annual regional meeting of AAR/SBL/ASOR/ASSR, with 240-300 participants, 2005-2007.

Regular presenter at academic conferences

1981-2000 Editor of Journal of Texas Baptist History

1983-1984 Book Review Editor for Journal of Church State.

Article reviewer for Journal of Church and State (1979-) and Perspectives (1994-)

1999 Religion consultant for World History, a Prentice Hall high school textbook

1981-2001 Professor, 1992-2001 Director, Baylor in the British Isles; renamed Baylor in Great Britain (five-week summer travel-study program) 1999: 172 participants

1995- Coordinator of 8 professors of World Cultures II (freshman) course in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core program

Grants and Fellowships:

University Research Grant 2007

University Sabbatical, 1982; 1997

Faculty Teaching Grant, 1995, 2001, 2003, 2007

Selected Research Articles:

"Baptist Origins, 1609: The John Smyth/Richard Clifton Literary Debate," Perspectives in Religious Studies, fall, 2009.

"Women Leaders in the Davidian and Branch Davidian Traditions," Nova Religio, Vol. 12, No.4 (May 2009), 50-71.

"Arguing Regenerate Church membership: Baptist Identity during Its First Decade, 1610-1620," Baptist History and Heritage, XLIV, No. 1 (Winter 2009), 20-39.

"Recruiting for Missions: the Baylor Volunteer Foreign Mission Band, 1900-1916," Baptist History and Heritage, Vol. XLIII, No. 1 (Winter 2008), 94-110.

"Personal and Social Christianity in Rauschenbusch's Thought," American Baptist Quarterly, Vol. XXVI, No. 2 (Summer 2007), 138-160.

"Christianity and the Social Crisis: Rauschenbusch's Legacy After a Century." Baptist History and Heritage, XLI (Summer/Fall 2006), No. 3, 35-48.

"Current Trends in Texas Baptist Ordination." Perspectives in Religious Studies, 29, No. 3 (Fall 2002), 259-267.

"Kenneth Scott Latourette, Church Historian." Baptist History and Heritage, 37, No. 1 (Winter 2002): 52-70.

"Changing Views of the Millennium in the Davidian Tradition." Journal of Religious History, 24, No. 1 (February 2000): 87-102.

"The Mount Carmel Davidians: Adventist Reformers, 1935-1959." Syzygy 2, (Winter/Spring 1993): 39-54.

Selected Contributions to Books and Encyclopedias:

"Women, Ministry and Identity: Establishing Female Deacons at First Baptist Church, Waco, 1996." Baptist History and Thought: Baptist Identities. Vol. 19 of International Studies from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Centuries, ed. By Ian M. Randall, Toivo Pilli and Anthony R. Cross, with Foreword by David Bebbington. London: Paternoster Press, 2006. Pages 99-110.

"Davidians and Branch Davidians," New Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 19 Supplement 1989-1995. Edited by Berard L. Marthaler, Washington D.C.: Catholic University Press, 1995, 96-98. Selected in 1999 for the new edition of NCE.

"Davidians and Branch Davidians: 1929-1987," in Armageddon in Waco. Ed. Stuart Wright, 20-42, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.

"The Davidian Tradition," in From the Ashes: Making Sense of Waco. Ed. James R. Lewis, 33-39. Lanham, Maryland: Rowland and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1994.

"The Spirituality of A.B. Simpson." Modern Christian Spirituality: Methodological and Historical Essays. Ed. Bradley Hanson, 223-248. Atlanta: Georgia: Scholars Press, 1991.

Ph.D Dissertations Directed:

Dissertations (33 completed; 5 in progress)

Courses Taught at Baylor:

  • REL 1350 The Christian Heritage
  • REL 3330 Introduction to Church History
  • REL 4333 History of Protestantism
  • REL 4336 Introduction to Religion in America
  • REL 5131 History Area Colloquium
  • REL 5335 Modern European Christianity
  • REL 5336 History of American Christianity I (to 1865) and II (since 1865)


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