×
Chapman named EC president emeritus
Erin Roach, Baptist Press
September 22, 2010

Chapman named EC president emeritus

Chapman named EC president emeritus
Erin Roach, Baptist Press
September 22, 2010

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In

appreciation for his service, Morris H. Chapman was named to the honorary

position of president emeritus of the Executive Committee and was presented the

M.E. Dodd Award for Cooperative Program support during a retirement dinner

Sept. 20 in Nashville, Tenn.

“Dr. Chapman, no entity

leader has been a greater ambassador for the Cooperative Program and its

promotion convention-wide than you,” Roger Spradlin, chairman of the Executive

Committee, told Chapman.

Throughout his tenure as

pastor of four churches over a span of 25 years and as president of the

Executive Committee for 18 years, Chapman led the way in his support of

Southern Baptists’ method for funding missions, Spradlin said.

“During each of his 13 years

at First Baptist Church, Wichita Falls, Texas, the church’s Cooperative Program

gifts were in the top 1 percent in the Southern Baptist Convention,” Spradlin

said. “As president of the Executive Committee, he never let circumstances

dampen his enthusiasm for what God is doing with Southern Baptists through the

Cooperative Program.”

As an M.E. Dodd Award

recipient, Chapman received a bronze sculpture of a farmer sowing the Word as

he walks across the world, depicting international evangelism. While other

recognitions honor annual accomplishments in CP support, the Dodd award is for

sustained achievement.

Spradlin also reported that

the Executive Committee (EC), in addition to EC personnel policy retirement

provisions, will make additional contributions to health insurance costs for

Chapman and his wife Jodi; provide a life insurance policy; and pay travel

expenses for the Chapmans to the SBC’s annual meetings.

Spradlin also presented

Chapman with the title to the vehicle that has been furnished to him by the EC,

and made a tribute to Jodi Chapman.

“Jodi, it was the desire of

the Executive Committee that we also give you a special gift for all of your

years of service to the Executive Committee,” Spradlin said.

“Many of us kind of

subscribe to the axiom, though, that it may not be wise for any man to shop for

any woman. So we thought it not wise to presume what you might want. So we want

to present you a gift tonight for $5,000 for you to use how you see fit.”

Photo by Morris Abernathy

Morris H. Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, voices his appreciation to Southern Baptists during a Sept. 21 retirement dinner in Nashville, Tenn.

Also at the dinner, Jerry

Vines, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and former pastor

of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., acknowledged Chapman’s role in

the Conservative Resurgence.

“It was not difficult for

some of us to take a stand for the inerrancy of scripture and be willing to

fight the battle for the Bible during the Conservative Resurgence because our

churches were very, very conservative,” Vines said. “They were behind us all the

way, 100 percent.

“Morris Chapman took a stand

for the Bible at First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls when there was

tremendous pressure upon him. He took that stand, and he took it with great,

great courage,” Vines said, referring to a small but strong group of moderates

at the church.

When Chapman was elected

president of the convention in 1990 by a 60 percent to 40 percent margin, Vines

said, “his election basically resolved the issue.”

“From that point on, it was

very, very clear that conservatives had won the battle and the Southern Baptist

Convention was turning back to its conservative roots,” Vines said. “It is

because of men like Morris Chapman and others that we now have a denomination

where we are on record as believing the Bible is God’s inspired, infallible,

inerrant Word. You don’t have to worry about your students going to our schools

and being taught there are errors in the Bible.”

Other tributes to Chapman

were given by friends and family.

  • Julian Motley, who was

    chairman of the Executive Committee’s presidential search committee at the time

    Chapman was elected president, said Chapman has represented Baptists well as an

    able statesman and strategic leader.

    “I think of Dr. Chapman

    especially as a man with a passionate commitment to evangelism and missions,”

    Motley said. “Any attempt to characterize his leadership must take into account

    his passion to reach people for Christ. It is obvious that he is a man driven

    by what 2 Peter 3:9 describes as God’s unwillingness that any should perish but

    that all should come to repentance.”

  • Roy Sparkman, a former

    member of First Baptist Wichita Falls and former Executive Committee member,

    thanked Chapman for providing a strong biblical foundation for Sparkman’s

    family and for always leading by faith and by the Scriptures.

  • Stephen Davis, executive

    director of the Indiana State Baptist Association, expressed gratitude for

    Chapman’s friendship and counsel, including advice for discerning God’s

    leading.

  • Jay Lowder, a vocational

    evangelist who surrendered to the ministry through the influence of Chapman and

    his wife Jodi at First Baptist Wichita Falls, recalled Chapman telling him many

    times, “God always blesses faithfulness.”

  • Chris and Renee Chapman,

    Chapman’s son and daughter-in-law, provided a musical tribute followed by an

    expression of love from Chapman’s young grandchildren in the form of an

    acrostic for Grampy.

  • The evening also included

    a historical montage of photos from Chapman’s life, narrated by D. August Boto,

    executive vice president of the Executive Committee.

“It’s been a great privilege

to serve the Lord Jesus through all these years among Southern Baptists,”

Chapman said. “My mother was a Methodist and my dad was a Baptist. When they

were married, my mother joined the Baptist church, so I was born into the

Baptist faith. I began to go to church before I can remember.

“But I do remember at the

age of 7 coming to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. … If I had

started at that point and tried to imagine the steps I would take through life,

I could have never imagined it,” Chapman said.

The Bible doesn’t mention

retirement, Chapman said, so the occasion simply marks “the finishing of a

page, and there’s another season coming.”

“The best of life is to know

wherever you are, whether the world knows your name or not, whether the

convention knows your name or not, whether only your family knows your name and

loves you, that God has you exactly where He wants you,” Chapman said. “As a

missionary said years ago, there’s no safer place than in the will of God.”

Among letters to Chapman

from friends upon his retirement, a letter from evangelist Billy Graham was

read at the dinner.

“I praise God for the 18

years of faithful service you have given in providing leadership,” Graham

wrote. “You have carried a heavy load, and God has certainly used you and

blessed your vision and efforts in amazing ways during that time. … Only when

we get to heaven will we fully realize the number of lives that God used you to

impact for the Kingdom.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Roach

is a staff writer for Baptist Press.)