The late Rev. Dr. John R. Claypool was well known and much loved as a minister, preacher, theologian, author, and teacher.
The Rev. Dr. John Rowan Claypool IV was well known and much loved as a minister, preacher, theologian, author, and teacher. He died September 3, 2005 at age 74.
He was born in Franklin, Kentucky, and reared in Nashville, Tennessee, receiving his undergraduate degree in philosophy from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. His theological education continued at Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky and at the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, in Austin, Texas. Dr. Claypool earned a doctorate in theology and has received six honorary degrees.
The Rev. Dr. Claypool was ordained to the ministry in 1953 and served as pastor of five Baptist churches in Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, and Mississippi. Ordained an Episcopal priest in 1986, he served as Rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Chuurch in Birmingham, Alabama, for nearly fourteen years. He retired from full-time parish ministry in 2000 and then served as Professor of Preaching at McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia.
During that period, he served part-time as theologian-in-residence at Trinity Episcopal Church in New Orleans, Louisiana, from 2001 to 2003, and has been an associate priest at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Atlanta since 2003.
John Claypool, a prolific writer, was the author of 11 books, including The Hopeful Heart, God the Ingenious Alchemist, and Tracks of a Fellow Struggler. He was a sought after speaker. The Very Rev. Harry Pritchett remembered, "He was always changing-growing, open to new possibilities. Life was a journey to John and it was my great privilege to be his friend during this part of the trip." Kirby Godsey, President of Mercer University, said, "John Claypool touched our souls. Amidst our wounds and our triumphs, his voice became for us the voice of God. He embraced the McAfee School of Theology, his students and his colleagues with a special measure of grace and with unfettered gentleness. John's presence in our lives and our histories is more than mere death can ever take away. He will continue to walk among us, giving light to our steps, wisdom for our hearts, and hope to our souls. John Claypool's life and presence and teaching were profound and enduring gifts to the entire Mercer University community."
In 2008 a new collection of his sermons on the twelve disciples, entitled The First to Follow, edited by his widow Ann Wilkinson Claypool, was published by Morehouse.