By Vicki Brown, Word&Way Associate Editor
Jefferson City — David Clippard remains as executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, despite an apparent move to oust him on Sept. 22.
Following a marathon, closed-door meeting at the Baptist Building in Jefferson City, Executive Board members voted to affirm Clippard as the state's executive. They also affirmed the current nominating committee and Roger Moran as its chair.
In a press release issued Sept. 25, Executive Board members confirmed that they "investigated concerns" that had been brought to the board and that they had "decided three things."
The board affirmed Clippard as "God's man to be our executive director," and "Roger Moran, chairman, and the works of the nominating committee and of all Missouri Baptist Convention committees this year."
Board members broadened their affirmation to include conservatism, doctrine and nearly every aspect of convention life.
"Third, we rejoice in all that unifies us to the glory of God, i.e. our submission to the Lordship of Christ, our faithfulness to sound Christian doctrine, our commitment to biblical authority, our support of the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board staff, our appreciation of the conservative resurgence in the Missouri Baptist Convention and Southern Baptist Convention, and our desire to fulfill both the Great Commission and the Great Commandment of Jesus Christ," the board noted in the release.
Billed as a "unity and reconciliation meeting," the Sept. 22 session began at 10 a.m. and concluded around 5:30 p.m.
A few former MBC presidents were invited to participate. Those who attended included Gary Taylor, 1999 president and current chair of the MBC's legal taskforce; Jay Scribner, 2000 president and current board member; Robert D. Collins, 2001 president and current board member; 2002 president Bob Curtis; 2003 president Monte Shinkle; David Tolliver, 2004 president and a current MBC associate executive director; and 2005 president Mitchell Jackson.
Kenny Qualls also attended. Elected at the 2002 MBC annual meeting, he served as 2003 president for a few months until Clippard tapped him as an associate executive director. When Qualls became associate for the MBC's church and family equipping team on Jan. 6, 2003, Shinkle, as the convention's first vice president, stepped into the top leadership spot.
Mostly grim-faced as they emerged from behind closed doors for an occasional break during the session, board members refused to provide details of the talks.
Although none of Clippard's alleged critics would air their grievances, reports have circulated that some were upset because he opposed an Executive Board decision last April to tap reserve funds for a $200,000 contribution to Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Half the donation was earmarked to continue the endowment of a missions chair, with the other half to support the seminary's undergraduate program. The convention began supporting the MBTS program in November 2003.
Some were reportedly upset that the executive director also opposed the board's commitment of up to $150,000 for the MBC Christian Life Commission to oppose the stem cell research amendment to the Missouri Constitution. Voters will face the issue in November.
Some critics pointed to the convention's unsuccessful bid to sell the Baptist Building to Cole County in August 2004 for $2.75 million. A secret contingency contract fell apart after voters turned down an increase in sales tax to fund a new justice center. The Pathway managing editor Bob Baysinger allegedly lost his position after revealing details of the sales agreement in the convention's news journal.
In April this year, the Executive Board stripped Clippard of control over The Pathway editor Don Hinkle, placing him under board supervision.
Settlement of a harassment suit filed by former MBC controller Carol Kaylor in 2003 and misunderstandings with Missouri Woman's Missionary Union apparently also contributed to the effort to remove Clippard.
For a few days prior to the Sept. 22 session, e-mails from Clippard supporters circulated, accusing the executive director's attackers as politically motivated.
In an "open letter to Missouri Baptists," Kirksville Baptist Division director of missions Bill Smathers accused critics of filling the board with "nominees that will follow a plan to micromanage the MBC executive staff and which calls for…Clippard's dismissal…. Why must we always struggle for control and power? Why must we continually devour one another?"
Moran, as the Missouri Baptist Laymen's Association research director, and participants in Project 1000 — a group of ministers and laymen who sought to swing 1,000 votes for handpicked candidates — are credited with helping move the convention from a moderate to a more conservative stance, electing a so-called conservative president in 1999 and each president for the next four years.
Former executive director Jim Hill resigned on Oct. 4, 2001, supposedly under pressure from the convention's more fundamentalist faction. Clippard was named to the post on Aug. 27, 2002, and assumed the position on Sept. 9.
A native of Cape Girardeau, Clippard grew up in First Baptist Church, Jackson. He graduated from Jackson High School, the University of Missouri and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
He served as vice president of North American ministries of Evangelism Explosion International in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., from 1983-1988. He was pastor of Sarasota (Fla.) Baptist Church from 1988-1996, then became director of evangelism for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, where he was later named an associate executive director. (09-25-06)