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.
Many years ago now when I was living in the great Southwest, I learned an interesting detail that reminded me that for all the ways we humans have changed there are certain habits that continue to persist and need to be challenged by the vision of reality Jesus came into the world to embody.Read full transcript...
Whenever you see a person doing something exceptionally well, your first impulse is to inquire as to that one's secret. You might find yourself saying, "Teach me how you do that so effectively." That's exactly what we see happening in the Gospel story that was just read for us. Jesus had been praying one day, and his disciples saw the powerful impact that this kind of experience had on Jesus. Therefore, they said, "Would you teach us how to do what you're doing? We want that same energy exchange in our lives." And in response to their request, Jesus did two things. First of all, he gave them an actual model that they could begin to emulate directly. He said, "When you pray, here is how to do it," and what follows is a shortened form of what is usually called The Lord's Prayer. This is simply a basic outline of the kind of concerns that make up authentic prayer. This is just like a piano teacher giving a set of scales to a beginning pupil and saying, "If you will follow this directly, it will increase your capacity to become a musician." And I would suggest that one of the finest ways to deepen one's capacity for prayer is to take the famous words of the prayer that our Lord gave us and make those words our own. In other words, we can begin to learn to pray by letting the Master Teacher direct us into how this should be done.Read full transcript...