Committee to examine validity of rumors
By Don Hinkle
JEFFERSON CITY – Two prominent Missouri pastors and former Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) presidents have agreed to serve on an Executive Board-approved committee charged with investigating rumors related to the character of the executive director, Executive Board, staff and committee members (see related story below).
Monte Shinkle, pastor, Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City, and Bob Curtis, pastor, Ballwin Baptist Church, Ballwin, have agreed to join the committee at the request of Chairman Bruce McCoy, pastor, Canaan Baptist Church, St. Louis, and first vice president of the MBC Executive Board. McCoy said Dec. 18 that the committee had already begun its work and intended to issue its first official statement after Christmas. It must provide a detailed report to the Executive Board by April. He declined to discuss the committee’s work any further.
Other committee members include Jim Cogdill, director of missions, Cape Girardeau Baptist Association and second vice president of the MBC Executive Board, and Lisa Albert of Hallsville Baptist Church, who is the MBC Executive Board’s recording secretary.
The formation of this “investigative” committee is the most recent development in a growing controversy between MBC Executive Director David Clippard and leaders of the conservative resurgence in the state. A variety of issues surrounding Clippard ranging from church planting to personal character and integrity have become increasingly contentious in recent Executive Board meetings. Board members who have raised concerns have been wanting answers or investigations into their concerns, while other board members have argued that all the controversy is a veiled attempt to “micro-manage” the executive director.
A significant number of board members contend that too much “rubber-stamping” by previous Executive Boards have been taking place and that asking questions and expecting answers is not “mirco-managing.” They point to the convention’s governing documents which gives the Executive Board both the authority and responsibility to oversee the work of the executive staff.
In addition, there have been a number of Executive Board votes in recent months in which Clippard and the board have been at odds with each other, offering further evidence of the growing schism that exists between Clippard and a slight majority of the Executive Board. One such vote came at the April meeting when the Executive Board voted to reverse Clippard’s earlier restructuring of convention staff that moved The Pathway out from under the Board and placed it under himself.
The motion establishing the “investigative” committee passed at the Dec. 12 MBC Executive Board meeting on a 29-19 vote with three abstentions. It was introduced by Wesley Hammond, pastor, First Baptist Church, Paris, only after he was twice ruled out of order by parliamentarian Michael Whitehead. Hammond’s motion was seen by some board members as both a surprise and an attempt to de-rail the establishment of a similar ad hoc committee that MBC President Mike Green, pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Republic had announced to Clippard the previous day.
As the last item of business, Green went ahead and presented his ad hoc committee, which would have been made up of the same three convention officers as Hammond’s motion, plus the administrative committee of the Executive Board. Their task would have been to examine the performance of Clippard in five specific areas (see story on p. 1-2). However, a motion was made to prevent Green from forming his committee. That effort failed in a roll call vote of 26-22, with three abstentions. Green then withdrew his motion saying he did not want to be divisive.
The activity involving the Hammond and Green motions capped a flurry of activity that began just prior to the July Executive Board meeting when the board’s executive director evaluation committee called for a meeting between David Clippard and Roger Moran, the leader of the conservative resurgence in Missouri and immediate past chairman of the MBC Nominating Committee.
On Aug. 18 a group of former MBC presidents met privately in Jefferson City at the request of Clippard to discuss the growing controversy within the convention. That group also called for a meeting between Clippard and Moran. The former presidents attending included Paul Brooks, pastor, First Baptist Church, Raytown; Gerald Davidson, retired pastor, First Baptist Church, Arnold; Mitch Jackson, pastor, Miner Baptist Church, Sikeston; Jay Scribner, retired pastor, First Baptist Church, Branson; Robert Collins, pastor, Plaza Heights Baptist Church, Kansas City; David Tolliver, MBC associate executive director; and Shinkle.
It was ultimately agreed that Clippard and Moran would meet before a special-called Executive Board meeting Sept. 22. Few details are known because the entire meeting was held in executive session. At the conclusion of the Sept. 22 meeting, the Executive Board voted to affirm both Clippard and Moran and many people felt the stage had been set for reconciliation.
The fracture between Clippard and Moran was not widely known by the public until Jackson made mention of it on the convention floor during the MBC’s annual meeting on Oct. 31. That same day during his convention sermon, Davidson criticized two organizations that had figured prominently in the conservative resurgence in Missouri: Project 1000 and the Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association (MBLA). Moran is research director for MBLA and served as coordinator of Project 1000, which was a project of MBLA. Davidson accused the two organizations of being “king builders” and that their usefulness had passed. (Read Davidson’s entire sermon at www.mbcpathway.com.) When the stories about Jackson and Davidson appeared in Word and Way and on Associated Baptist Press, Moran posted his Sept. 22 written testimony before the Executive Board on the MBLA web site, www.mbla.org.
The committee formed by the Hammond motion is the second of two established in recent weeks. MBC President Mike Green also appointed an ad hoc committee earlier this month in response to a motion made at the annual meeting to study the theological soundness of all relationships the MBC has with non-political, parachurch organizations. A report by that committee is due to the Executive Board by July.