Insufficient and Unnacceptable


After having waited for the official report of the MBC Executive Committee, and after having read said report, let me now say that if this is the substance of the claims against David Clippard then the process of terminating him was both unfair and, I would maintain, unbiblical. I find the report to be wholly insufficient to satisfy the need for such immediate, and covert action against Clippard. Hear me say that I am not claiming that the EC should not have taken some action up with Clippard. They may well have had grounding to do so. However, to fail to allow Clippard to address the Board at large, to terminate him in such a speedy manner, and to do all of the above in private, behind closed doors, will NOT be deemed sufficient by many, many Missouri Baptist’s. There may have been a day when we trusted leadership to simply make the right decision. There may have been a day when we would have heard a report like this and simply acknowledge that tho!
se involved surely “did the right thing.” Those days of institutional loyalty without accountability are gone. There must be accountability for our actions and in this case, unfortunately, while the MBC Exec. Committee was clamoring for Clippard to have more accountability they brushed off that same accountability for themselves. That is extremely unfortunate.

All I can hope is that this surely is not all that there is to the findings against Clippard? If it is so then may God forgive us for the unfortunate behavior that we have engaged in.

[To read the report, click here]

Micah is a husband to Tracy & a daddy to Grace, Kessed & Haddon. He’s Senior Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN. Most of all, he’s a debtor to grace.

25 thoughts on “Insufficient and Unnacceptable

  1. It DOES appear that there is more to this story than the EB was able/willing to share. However, I agree with you Micah that the EB should not — in this climate — expect anyone to just say “OK”, and get back to business.

    In fact, reading the report and comments made on the Mo Bapt list on Yahoo, it appears that there may be almost as much “concern” expressed about the editor of The Pathway.

    If these two men – DC and DH – aren’t able and willing to get along, then what are either of them doing in convention leadership!?!!?

    Charles

  2. Okay Micah, I will stop trying to talk you off the ledge on this one. The report was pitiful, and the “reasons” were devoid of real meaning. While statements made in regards to Don Hinkle were dismissed because the Biblical process of restoration had not been followed, Dr. Clippard was not afforded the credit due him for working for restoration. He sought forgiveness for something he is not even certain he did, yet he is called ‘divisive’? Dr. Clippard is unprofessional and making us ‘look bad’? And the firing of the ED is supposed to improve the image of a state convention so divided that it requires secular courts to get us to sit down at the same table? The Nom. Com. gets a pass for playing the ‘good ole boy’ system, but the ED can’t settle legal matters by following the instructions of legal counsel? I don’t know… it sort of make you want to put someone in a headlock, doesn’t it!

  3. David-

    Welcome to the dark side! 🙂

    Seriously though, the inconsistencies that you mentioned (and even more that you didn’t mention) are, in large part, part and parcel to the problems in the MBC. Let’s hope somehow it can be fixed in the near future before we cannibalize ourselves.

  4. David said: “While statements made in regards to Don Hinkle were dismissed because the Biblical process of restoration had not been followed, Dr. Clippard was not afforded the credit due him for working for restoration.”

    I say: That is the first thing I noticed as well. It was almost as if they were choosing between Don Hinkle and Dr.Clippard. Dr. Clippard lost.

  5. Debbie (and David)-

    I noticed the same thing. I don’t know what to think but I have been told by some closer to the situation than I that this in reality comes down to a power struggle.

    I really have no inside information but what I can surmise from the situation is that last summer I was introduced to Mr. Roger Moran and during the introduction I was told that he was “the most influential man in Missouri.” Beyond that, of the two men that you mentioned (Debbie) one is close to Mr. Moran and one is certainly not a buddy of his (I’ll let you guess who is who.) One last note of interest is that the new Interim Executive Director has worked side by side with Mr. Moran for many, many years now. It seems rather too convenient, in my opinion. In fact, I could be altogether wrong as I don’t know anything specifically, but it doesn’t look right from Northwest Missouri, I know that.

  6. Micah,

    While there were 5 people on the committee it appears the entire investigation of Dr. Clippard was done by just 1 of the 5; Bob Curtis “As part of this five member investigative committee, I was asked to…”

    While the entire committee made the recommendations only 1 did the actual investigation?

    It does beg to question that the first 2 reasons for removing Clippard also apply to Hinkle.

    One last comment/question, people are forever are using Matthew 18 as a reference text in these situations when, my opinion, this text provides the reader a process for dealing with “personal” disagreements/disputes. With leadership 1 Timothy 5:19-20 is the applicable text?

  7. The public report was disappointing. But, it was sanitized by legal counsel prior to release to avoid future problems. When something like that happens, the statements are usually less than satisfying.

    Regarding Mr. Tolliver. Anyone who was active in the MO conservative resurgence has worked closely with Moran – lets not discount him over that. When I returned to MO after seminary, a mutual friend encouraged me to meet with Mr. Tolliver. He struck me as an intelligent, caring man who understands Missouri very well. He is probably one of the few people who could bring us together in this difficult time. There is no reason to slight him because of frustration at Mr. Clippard’s dismissal.

    He has a hard enough time ahead of him. Let’s not undermine his ministry before it starts.

  8. John-

    I sincerely hope you are right, but unfortunately remain skeptical. I am very skeptical, in fact, that anyone involved with MBC politics as closely as Tolliver can unite Missouri Baptists. I would have preferred for us to find a peacemaker from outside of the state who is not already attached to the political structure here in Missouri to help us navigate through this time.

    I was never asked, however, and after my writing from the past few days it is probable that I will never be asked. That’s ok, though!

  9. John-

    In addition, the fact that the report may have been (probably was) sanitized does not help, though. It still appears that the facts presented are insufficient to justify the action taken by the board. Beyond that, if there is more information that is not being made available then it appears that the committee is simply asking us to “trust them” and unfortunately I have not spoken (in person at least) to a single Missouri Baptist who simply trusts the EC.

  10. Someone told me that if anything happened to Clippard, several of the larger SBC churches in MO would back out of the state convention and direct CP dollars to Nashville. The person that told me this is VERY, VERY close to this whole situation. Is that true?

  11. Given the lack of trust in our convention leadership many have developed over the past few years, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see a number of churches either reduce giving to the state convention or bypass it completely in their giving.

    It’s sad that his may be the case, given that it’s MBC staff and programs that suffer. That’s not just from any possible reduction in giving, but also in this conflict.

  12. I wish folks would stop and consider a few things:
    1. The lopsided EB vote shows that some very convincing material was presented regardless of the sanitized version released.

    2. Most of the talk is being done by folks who know nothing of the facts.

    3. Legal issues are real at this point and have forced the EB’s hand in many ways regarding the release of information: ESPECIALLY since DC has already hired an attorney to help “negotiate” his severance package.

    4. David Tolliver is not helping “mend fences” by sending an email to all the DOMs in Missouri claiming MBC staff is shocked and bewildered by all this. They were interviewed during this four month process; they know what’s going on.

    And as for the threat of BIG churches leaving. If they want to play politics based on their size and supposed influence, that’s their right. But it would seem to me that we should give this some time for more information to eventually come out and then make our decisions.

  13. Scott –

    I would agree that many that are talking about the firing of DC don’t know anything…..the EB could correct that….

    Also, why would you bring up that DC has hired an attorney to “negotiate” his severance? I would suspect that the MBC will be represented by Mike Whitehead — the MBC attorney…should DC just hope for the best? Seems prudent to have legal representation, doesn’t it?

    I would agree about churches leaving….that’s their right. Whether any do or not is yet to be seen, but would not want to “give in” to political or financial pressure of that sort. If they’re with the MBC, fine; if not, fine also!

    Charles

  14. Micah,
    Check out the Q&A link now posted on http://www.mbcpathway.com/. Like you, I was skeptical if Mr. Clippard’s offences were fireable or not, but the Q&A link answered my questions. Look specifically at question 18, points c, e, & f.
    I am truly sorry my friend. I do wish things could have been much different.
    John

  15. John: You truly believe that the Q&A that Pathway, which has Don Hinkle as the editor, is sufficient and should satisfy that Dr. Clippards firing was on the up and up? I don’t see how on earth you would possibly believe this. For example:

    Why did the Executive Board go into executive session to hear the IC report?
    Personnel and discipline matters normally require executive session. Executive Board
    Bylaws, Article III, Section 5, contemplate that the chairman will call the Board into
    executive session when necessary to consider matters of personnel, discipline, etc.
    Chairman Mike Green called the board into executive session. A motion was made to
    appeal the order of the chair. The chair was affirmed by a large majority and the board
    moved into executive session. Chairman Green designated that board members, the
    recording secretary, the parliamentarian, the Ad Hoc committee and its counsel David
    Gibbs should remain in the room. All other persons including the Executive Director
    were asked to leave.
    7. Is the Executive Director a member of the Board with the right to attend executive
    sessions?
    No. Executive Board Bylaws Article II, Section 2, defines members. The Executive
    Director is not a member as defined by this section. The Board could have decided to
    invite Dr. Clippard into the room at some point, even if he did not have the right to do so,
    but under the circumstances, no such motion was made.
    8. Did the Dr. McCoy inform Dr. Clippard about the their loss of confidence before April
    10?
    Yes. On April 4, Bruce McCoy, Monte Shinkle and Bob Curtis talked with Dr. Clippard
    as friends. The written report had not yet been finalized and they felt that it would be
    inappropriate to give him a copy of the draft report or specific details about it in advance.
    At this point, the IC vote on the loss of confidence had been unanimous, 5-0. They
    expressed their personal concern for him and asked him to consider resignation as
    Executive Director, rather than putting himself and the convention through a forced
    termination process. The group believed that Dr. Clippard was open to this suggestion at
    the time, although he had stated that he had a clear conscience about his conduct.

    This as well as the reason they kept Dr. Clippard out of the meetings causes me to ask more questions and become more suspicious that Micah is right on his hunches.

    Sorry for the length Micah.

  16. Charles,
    Regarding legal representation, I certainly don’t begrudge DC that. I was merely referring to the fact that the IC report was slow in coming because it was edited for content for legal reasons; and the presence of counsel for DC just proves the prudence of that course. That was all I was getting at.

    Debbie,
    Regarding the Q & A. It was posted on Pathway but originated with Michael Whitehead. That should make it sufficient.

    Scott

  17. Argh… I just re-read my comment, and realized I left off a caveat I should have posted originally. That will teach me to post when I’m pressed for time.

    What I intended to convey was that “it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see a number of churches either reduce giving to the state convention or bypass it completely in their giving, assuming we’re left with little solid detail surrounding Dr. Clippard’s dismissal. As of now, this could be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    I had heard an FAQ was forthcoming, and hoped it would answer some questions. At least to some extent, it has.

  18. Debbie,
    “You truly believe that the Q&A that Pathway, which has Don Hinkle as the editor, is sufficient and should satisfy…”
    Careful, this is guilt by association.

    Indeed I do believe the Q&A, as it originated not with Mr. Hinkle, but with MBC counsel Michael Whitehead, of whom Ben Cole said “Michael Whitehead, from what I’ve known of him, would never be a party to character assassination, slander, and a denial of due process.”

    The items I brought to this blog’s attention from question 18, regarding a 2004 lawsuit were:

    c. The Board had never known or approved the amount of the settlement or the terms of the agreement, including the confidentiality clause. Board members heard the settlement amount for the first time on April 10, 2007. The settlement amount is still covered by the confidentiality agreement, which prevents the Board from discussing the amount publicly, but the agreement did not prevent the Board from knowing the amount or other terms of the agreement.

    e. In 2004, Dr. Clippard had asserted to the insurance defense lawyer that he had authority to settle the case on behalf the Convention and the Board, as his employer, as well as for himself as the employee.

    f. On December 9, 2004, Dr. Clippard signed the settlement agreement, on three separate pages, one for himself, one for the Convention and one for the Executive Board, noting that he was acting as Executive Director. The Board did not know or approve the settlement terms or expressly authorize a settlement in advance.

    When I worked in management, something of this magnitude would have gotten me fired in a heart beat – and legal action would have probably followed.

    Hunches may be more entertaining, but these facts were taken directly from court documents – you simply cannot make this stuff up. But if you still believe that this is all part of a great conspiracy, then please contact the Cole County Recorder. She will help you review the relevant court documents that will tell you the same thing that Whitehead did.

    Micah – I, like Debbie, apologize for the length of my post.

    John

  19. The manner in which Dr. Clippard was dismissed is disturbing. But there are some things in this report that bother me just a wee bit more.

    First, the convention requires new church starts to contribute 10% to the Cooperative Program, yet there are 24 members of the executive board who come from churches that give less, and there are some who give less than 1%. How can you be so stingy with the convention and still serve on the executive board? What kind of a message does that send to the churches? And even counting the more generous contributors, the average for the board is just 8.6%? No wonder there is so much bickering and fighting in the Missouri Baptist Convention. It’s being run by people who have little vested interest in it.

    The second thing that bothers me is an apparent attempt to muzzle Don Hinkle. Apparently some Missouri Baptists haven’t approved of some of his editorials. So? That shouldn’t be the question. As long as he is operating within the guidelines and parameters set by the convention, it shouldn’t make a difference whose feathers he ruffled.

  20. While the cat’s away….? I enjoyed my evening rocking out with the likes of Switchfoot and about 30 folks from our church so I have missed the substance of the statements that you all have been making.

    Rather than try and answer each one (since it’s almost midnight and I’ve got to be up and at work in the morning) let me suffice by providing my commentary on the report.

    1. After reading the Q & A much of my questions have been answered in regards to whether Clippard should have been fired or not. It appears to me that there were more than sufficient grounds.

    2. The grounds that seemed to be sufficient can be found in regards to his treatment of the situation with Carol Kaylor. The charges that appear to be justified about his conduct in regards to the case appera to me to be a fireable offense.

    3. If the above statements are true, than the firing should have happened 3 years ago and I am confused as to why it’s just now occurring?

    4. I am still not satisfied with the seemingly inequitable treatment of Clippard in regards to the treatment of the other rumors that the group researched. There should have been, it seems to me, further repercussions than just the firing of Clippard.

    5. I am still unsatisfied, to a degree, with the behavior of the board in the method used to dismiss Clippard. I am of the opinion that it was poorly handled, poorly communicated to the public and much should have been done differently. It saddens me that there has been significant negative and saddening dialogue that has come about, not necessarily because Clippard was fired, but because of how he was fired.

    6. I still have reason to doubt the behavior of the EC due to the resignation of Dr. Cogdill. Dr. Cogdill is one of the men in Missouri who I really do trust and his resignation and the reasons behind it continue to give me pause in regards to convention leadership. I do appreciate the Q & A’s honest assessment of Cogdill’s opinions, but I’m afraid that I find myself more sympathetic to him than I do the rest of the EC.

    In conclusion I will say that I am more relieved about the dismissal of Clippard tonight than I anticipated being. At the same time there are still questions in regards to behavior that need to be addressed. I would be ashamed to see this kind of event happen in this kind of way every again.

    And I now apologize to everyone else concerning the length of my reply. 🙂

  21. Micah,
    The part of this mess that bothers me most is not whether or not there was an offense worthy of the firing, but that there seemed to be such eagerness to do it. The Church is not a business, and we have done much to try to make it one. There ought to be clear consequences for sinful behavior, and removal from office may be required, but it is certainly not the option to be desired. How much better our convention might be if we spent a fraction of the energy spent on discovering the ills in one another on lifting up one another. Is ours a ministry of reconciliation or one of retribution? Yes, I do still think there was an organized effort (conspiracy if you like) to remove the director. Dr. Cogdill seems to have thought so, too. Those displeased with Dr. Clippard looked until they found sufficient grounds to remove him, and used his friends to do it. Sadly, he gave them what they needed. I wish they could have seen a way to give him what he needed.

  22. To clarify, I was not implying that the report was not accurate, I was simply using Don Hinkles name to further identify who he was, not as a guilt by association. I simply question the mode in which Dr. Clippard was dismissed. The part that I quoted puts a big question mark as to the mode used in firing.

  23. The Post is hardly a reliable source for information, especially on religious issues. Their report makes implications that are simply not true. Try going to the source for answers. All documents are posted at mbcpathway.com

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