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 September 20 in Nashville, Tennessee.
"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 twenty-five years and as president of the Executive Committee for eighteen years, Chapman led the way in his support of Southern Baptists' method for funding missions, Spradlin said.
"During each of his thirteen 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."
Also at the dinner, Jerry Vines, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and former pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, acknowledged Chapman's role in the Conservative Resurgence.
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."
In closing remarks, Chapman reflected, "It's been a great privilege to serve the Lord Jesus through all these years among Southern Baptists."
The Bible doesn't mention retirement, Chapman said, so the occasion simply marks the completion of one era, 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 eighteen 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."
Adapted from a Baptist Press article by Erin Roach.