Gibbs keeps keen legal mind active
JEFFERSON CITY – David Gibbs III, the Florida attorney who fought for the life of Terri Schiavo, will address the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) at Tan-Tar-A, Osage Beach, during the closing session of the 173rd annual meeting. He is scheduled to speak at 11:40 a.m. Oct. 31.
Gibbs is an attorney with the Gibbs Law Firm based in Tampa, Fla. As lead counsel for Schiavo’s parents, he was cast into the national spotlight in 2005 as the parents and her husband fought over ending the woman’s life. He may be known to Missouri Baptists in another capacity. In the weeks leading up to an April 10 board meeting, Gibbs was an advisor who helped craft the language of the Investigating Committee Report of the MBC which led to the dismissal of then-Executive Director David Clippard.
Gibbs was recommended to speak at the annual meeting by Bruce McCoy, first vice president of the MBC and pastor of Canaan Baptist Church in St. Louis.
“David is one of the most dedicated believers and trusted friends that I have,” McCoy said. “He is highly skilled, highly trained and highly dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s a gem.”
Gibbs told The Pathway he will be discussing the “untold story” of the Terri Schiavo case and “what it means for all of us” at the annual meeting.
“A number of the key lessons of the case were lost in the media coverage,” he said. “I will bring a challenge from the Word of God on what we can do as Baptists to stand for life and biblical truth in these ever darker days.”
Gibbs will give every senior pastor a free DVD called “Fighting for Dear Life” to take home and share with their congregation. In it, Gibbs describes the behind the scenes legal battles leading up to Schiavo’s death, an event he believes is an important legal landmark. The video is also available as a free download at www.fightingfordearlife.com.
“I believe that the [Schiavo] case has become the Roe v. Wade of our generation. Life itself was on trial.”
Even before the Schiavo case thrust him into the national spotlight, Gibbs was working with the Christian Law Association (CLA) to provide free legal assistance to churches and Christians experiencing legal difficulty in practicing their faith because of government regulation or intrusion.
“I am honored to be considered a ‘legal missionary,’” Gibbs said. “The CLA has the privilege of serving and defending churches and Christians nationwide as a ministry. We do it for free.”
Gibbs said he will be available to speak with any pastor of any ministry that has a legal question or issue.
“We find that reaching children for the Gospel, using ministry property, and properly managing the finances of the church are areas of concern in many churches,” he said. “We always count it as a great victory if we can help a pastor or a church avoid a lawsuit.
The words “attorney” and “free” rarely go together, but Gibbs says the desire to serve churches comes out of his faith in Christ and the example set by his parents.
“I had the privilege of growing up in a Christian home,” he said. “At the age of four, my Sunday School teacher from Madison Avenue Baptist Church told me how to pray and accept Jesus Christ as my Savior. Later that night at home with my mother, I did just that.”
As he grew up, Gibbs said he felt more and more led into joining the CLA.
“I grew up in the ministry watching my father minister,” he said. “I remember watching him in the courtroom, and I went with him to visit pastors in jail. Those experiences stirred the calling in my life to serve with him in the ministry. I went to Bible college and then Duke Law School with the goal of working with the CLA as a servant of pastors, churches, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Although he frequently operates in the public and legal realms, Gibbs said he believes the solution to our problems cannot be found in a book of statutes.
“The answer for America is not in Washington, D.C. or the courthouse,” he said. “The answer for America is the local church winning this culture back to Jesus Christ. As we sit here today, Christian liberty is under attack in America. Homosexuality is more protected than Christianity under current Supreme Court rulings. Candidly, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is under attack in our nation.”