Baylor University Mourns Passing of Inaugural Wesley House of Studies Director Billy Abraham

October 19, 2021
Dr. Billy Abraham Preaching

Baylor University and George W. Truett Theological Seminary are mourning the death of Rev. William “Billy” J. Abraham, D.Phil., inaugural Director of Truett’s Wesley House of Studies, who passed away Thursday, October 7. As one of the most highly regarded Wesleyan scholars of our time, Dr. Abraham was skillfully leading Truett Seminary’s recently launched program to prepare Wesleyan students, especially Methodists, for ministry within their given denominational contexts.

A memorial service for Abraham will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, October 30th at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas.

“We are grateful for the significant contributions of Dr. Abraham to Baylor University and Truett Seminary over the last year and for the faithful spirit and unwavering commitment he brought to the Wesley House of Studies,” said President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D. “That spirit will be deeply missed. We join in mourning with Dr. Abraham’s family, friends and colleagues as we remember and celebrate his extraordinary and eternal life.”

A prominent Methodist Church leader and theologian, Billy Abraham is also remembered as a loving husband and father, an inspiring teacher and mentor, and a gifted evangelist and missionary. Before joining Truett Seminary as Director of the Wesley House in 2020, Abraham served on the faculty of Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, teaching a wide range of disciplines, including systematic theology, philosophy of religion, evangelism, and Wesley studies. In 2003, he received the highest award for teaching at SMU and was appointed Altshuler University Distinguished Teacher.

“Billy Abraham was a scholar known for his academic rigor, a professor known for his energy and his brilliance, and an intellectual known for his ability to hold a thoughtful conversation with those of opposite opinions,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner, Ph.D. “His legacy of kind graciousness will live on in his students and his many friends.”

A prolific scholar, Abraham authored or edited over 25 books and more than 100 scholarly and popular articles in addition to producing audio-visual resources on the basics of the Christian faith, Bible study, Methodism, and church renewal. Additionally, he offered lectures at numerous educational intuitions, societies, and churches, and served in visiting professor appointments around the world. Even as he was leading the Wesley House at Truett, he was also teaching part-time at Dallas Baptist University.

“We have lost a true giant of the Christian faith in our time. Billy Abraham’s superb theological insight in sharing the Wesleyan vision of the Christian faith will remain blessing and gift from God to the whole church down through the coming ages,” said Mike Lowry, D.Min., Resident Bishop of the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church. “His vision for the future of the Christian movement was unsurpassed in our time. Personally, I have lost a dear treasured friend and companion on the journey of faith. With so many others, I am deeply enriched by the gift of his friendship and sharing of his deep faith in Christ.”

As an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, Abraham served for many years as a member of what is now the Rio Texas Annual Conference. Most recently, he taught two Sunday School classes at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas. He is survived by his wife Muriel Elizabeth, his children Siobhan Elizabeth and Shaun Wesley, and by his brothers John, Ivan, Cecil, and Ken Abraham.

“Although the death of our beloved friend and fellow Christ-follower, Billy Abraham, greatly diminishes us, we give God thanks for his extraordinary life, for his all-too-brief work and witness among us, and for the recently established William J. Abraham Chair of the Wesley House of Studies, which will perpetually extend his ministry and legacy. While we rightly mourn his passing, Billy is in God’s gracious care and keeping, for to him ‘to live was Christ, and to die is gain,’” commented Todd D. Still, Ph.D., DeLancey Dean and Hinson Professor of Christian Scriptures at Baylor’s Truett Seminary.

Abraham’s full obituary and additional details regarding his memorial service may be found here.

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