November 5, 2002
SPRINGFIELD — The opening night of the 2002 annual Missouri Baptist Convention was a night of celebration for new Executive Director David Clippard as a standing-room-only crowd gathered at the University Plaza Convention Center here to witness his installation as the leader for Missouri Baptists.
Three of Clippard’s closest friends – Morris Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee; Anthony Jordan, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma; and Tom Elliff, former SBC president and pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Okla. where Clippard and his wife, Susanna, were involved while living in that state — offered encouragement and prayers for Clippard.
"I know David Clippard as a friend over the last 25 years," Chapman said "He was educated in Missouri, pastored in Missouri and has a desire to reach Missouri with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord has not been caught by surprise by the last year of difficulties. He knew all along who he had set aside for this position. A new day is dawning for Missouri Baptists."
Chapman told the approximately 1,700 messengers in attendance that Clippard, a native of Jackson, Mo., is a man of integrity.
"There is nothing under the table with this man. It’s all on top of the table. You can be assured that when David Clippard stands to lead, he will speak the truth in love. You never have to worry about him backing down. He is the same behind the door as he is in front," Chapman added. "The Lord has not been caught by surprise by the last year of difficulties. The Lord knew who he had set aside for this position. A new day is dawning for Missouri Baptists."
Jordan said he first met Clippard at the First Baptist Church at Jackson and described Clippard as a "hard-hearted layman who had been turned on to what it means to walk with Jesus Christ every day."
"You’re not around this man very long until to see that he has a deep passion for the Word of God. It’s one thing to say you believe in the infallibility of Scripture, but it’s another thing to live it as if it is the center of your life. That is who David Clippard is."
Earlier Monday, Elliff spoke to the convention and mentioned jokingly that he had come to Missouri to fetch Clippard’s tithe. Elliff appeared surprised when Clippard jumped to his feet and delivered an envelope to Elliff at the podium as messengers erupted into laughter.
Elliff told the messengers that the envelope contained a check along with something extra for the "I Love My Church Sunday" offering.
Elliff added that he really wasn’t shocked by what Clippard done because he was a man who loved the local church. "The people at my church had a breath of life breathed into them because of David and Susanna, and now the First Southern Baptist Church of Del City has a deep and abiding love for these two," Elliff added. "I can still stand look across the congregation and see people that David has led to Christ.
"I can tell you that David doesn’t return to Missouri unwilling and he doesn’t come unprepared," Elliff concluded. "I can’t help but believe these are going to be the greatest days for Missouri Baptists."