Immediately after the roll was called at the MBC Executive Board meeting, a motion was made to move into Executive Session. Executive Director David Clippard, who by nature of his position is a member of the board, was barred from attending the closed door meeting. Nearly four hours later, a vote was taken to fire David and it passed 44-7. The Missouri Baptist Convention staff members were notified by inter-office e-mail to assemble in a conference room at 1:30 where they were informed of Clippard's termination.
I have no opinion on whether or not David's termination was justified, but I have a very strong opinion on the process taken. David Clippard heard nothing of the deliberations. He had no opportuntity to issue a defense before the board. He was kept OUT of the meeting, and the entire meeting was about him. That is a clear and direct violation of Matthew 18, and what is worse, not even the pagans treat their accused as unjustly as the Executive Director was treated in the procedures yesterday. An appeal was made to reverse the decision to bar the Executive Director from the closed door meeting designed to hear the reasons why he should be terminated, but the board leadership overruled it.
Therefore, David Clippard was not asked any questions, given an opportunity to share his thoughts, or allowed to issue any statement before the vote to terminate him. He was removed from his job as the top leader for Missouri Baptists without even so much as a 'David, what do you have to say for yorself" before the entire board.
For several months we watched Sadaam Hussein sit before his accusers, speaking regularly in his defense, and being offered every opportunity to plead his innocence. Yet, in the end, Sadaam was executed for his crimes.
David Clippard had none of the opportunities afforded to Saddam, yet, in the end, instead of a public execution, this very bizarre statement was issued to Baptist Press by Michael Whitehead, the parlimentarian for the MBC, regarding the board's feelings for David:
"Clippard's termination doesn't translate into a rejection of David Clippard and his conviction to plant churches worldwide. The same gifts and talents that attracted the board to Clippard four years and eight months ago he still possesses. This is a hurtful time, but not a funeral for a man and his ministry."
Gee, what a weird way of saying your still the same guy we hired five years ago. Remind me never to apply for the Executive Director position in Missouri. Also, it would seem to me that this very statement RULES OUT any justifiable termination on moral grounds. One would never dream of making this statement of David Clippard if that were true.
Some Friendly Advice For Dr. Clippard
(1). Don't sign any confidentiality agreement.
If a board or committee doesn't have enough guts to say what needs to be said in the light of day for all Southern Baptists to hear it, bars you from hearing the accusations against you or from issuing any statement in your defense before the board, and then comes out in public and commends you as a person and your ministry as a whole -- then it's time to play hard ball with the people who are controlling and manipulating Missouri Baptists.
Your integrity is at stake and the work of the kingdom at large is at stake. The MBC is kicking churches out. The MBC is kicking people out. The MBC is kicking Executive Directors out. Soon, the Missouri Baptist Convention will have kicked everyone out that doesn't look the same, talk the same, preach the same, act the same, give the same, walk the same, etc . . . We should change the name to the 'Show Me You're Like Me' Convention. I think you need to say what your experience has been like because of the future of the kingdom work in the SBC. I think you should believe you should talk because your future ministry is at stake. If you don't, others will for you.
(2). Encourage every single board member and board officer to make EVERYTHING public -- immediately .
One of the problems with closed door meetings is that one, two or three years from now, those who were in the meeting will be saying many things about the meeting that are not true. What was said was bad enough, as the resignations of some key people will show, but you will discover what will be said in the future -- which was not even said behind closed doors -- will even be worse. This will all be in an attempt to discredit you. Further, you will find that unless you make all facts public NOW, things will be said in an attempt to ruin your ministry in the future.
Again, demand EVERYTHING be made public. Only the guilty wish things to be hidden or covered. I bet you will find the little things that crawled out when the doors were closed will be scurrying for cover when the light is turned on. The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion. They want you to be quiet -- you should want them to talk. Do you see the irony?
Of course, if something is revealed that proves the action taken in your termination is just, we can, and will forgive you -- all the while affirming your termination.
But I can tell you that something really smells rotten in Denmark.
(3). Recognize that you may never understand the logic of what happened.
It is not about logic. It is not about spiritual matters. It is about power. It is about control. It is about politics. And right now, you are on the losing side.
But it won't be for long. Southern Baptists are waking up to the fact that show trials have no place in our convention life. It's time people realized that you just can't run over people in the Southern Baptist Convention because of philosphical or methodological disagreements. Leaders in the SBC who misappropriate funds, regularly lie, build personal kingdoms, and are immoral should be terminated. But there is a long trail of Southern Baptists who have been abused, maligned, set aside, and in some instances terminated, all because they did not form the approprate alliance, express the necessary allegience, or had the audacity to think for themselves.
Those days are quickly coming to an end in the convention as a whole, but the state of Missouri may need someone to step up to the plate to hold accountable those who would villify and crucify their brothers in Christ for personal or political gain. Do you have it in you?
I think you will find people respect a man who stands on principle.
In His Grace,
P.S. David Tolliver, the man Roger Moran and the MBC activists placed on the Executive Committee payroll at MBC -- without David Clippard's direction or permission -- is now the 'interim' Executive Director. What are the odds the title 'interim' will be removed within the next few months? We'll see.