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A Biography

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Dr. Morris H. Chapman is the President Emeritus of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. He served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, from October 1, 1992 until September 30, 2010. He was elected to two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1990-1992. He preached the Convention Sermon in Las Vegas, Nevada (1989). He served as president of the SBC Pastors' Conference (Atlanta, 1986), and as chairman of the Committee on Order of Business of the Southern Baptist Convention (Dallas, 1985). He is an author and has traveled and spoken extensively in the United States and in numerous foreign countries.

Within weeks of his election as president, he and his wife, Jodi participated in the Kenyan Coast Crusade in Mombasa, Kenya. They were in the country for the last two weeks of the four-week crusade. On the last Sunday of the crusade, thousands of new converts waded into the Indian Ocean and were baptized by national pastors, visiting pastors, and missionaries. A month later while they attended the Baptist World Congress in Seoul, South Korea, Dr. Chapman stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Southern Baptist missionaries, visiting pastors, and Korean pastors, including Dr. Billy Kim, in the Han River and again assisted in baptizing thousands. During the Congress, Dr. Billy Kim, pastor of one of the largest Baptist churches in Korea and president of the Far East Radio Broadcasting Company, introduced himself to the Chapmans, taking it upon himself to be their host for the week. As a result, they visited Dr. Kim’s church and saw the prayer cells on one of the prayer mountains in the city where scores of Christians begin praying each morning at 4:30 a.m.

In 1979 at the age of 38, Dr. Chapman became pastor of the historic 7,700-member First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls, Texas.  He was pastor of the church until 1992, preaching each week on radio and television. In 1982, he was awarded the Valley Forge Medal of Honor for the sermon he preached on July 4 of that year entitled, Hear This Word, America. In 1984, with a growing burden for revival among Southern Baptists, Dr. Chapman led the Wichita Falls congregation in a Revival Prayer Ministry. Over a period of five months, church members prayed by name for each of the 36,000 Southern Baptist churches along with the SBC agencies and institutions. For each of the thirteen years he served as pastor in Wichita Falls the church’s baptisms and Cooperative Program gifts were in the top one percent in the Southern Baptist Convention. In the 13 years he was pastor of the church, he led the congregation to increase its giving through the Cooperative Program from 11 ½ % to 15 ½%, the amount the church was giving when he was elected president of the convention.

Prior to accepting the Wichita Falls pastorate, Dr. Chapman was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Albuquerque, New Mexico, where at the age of 35 he was elected president of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico and served two terms, 1976-1978. During his five-year ministry in Albuquerque, the church, in her determination to maintain a dynamic evangelical witness in the heart of the city, built a 50,000 sq. ft. educational complex and courtyard on two adjacent downtown city blocks recently purchased by the church. He was one of the first pastors in the nation to utilize 30-second television spots to publicize the local church and convey to hurting people throughout the state that the church genuinely cared for them. He was invited to be chaplain of the University of New Mexico basketball team for his last two seasons in Albuquerque. Michael Cooper, who later became a defensive star with the Los Angeles Lakers, was a member of the UNM team while Chapman was there. When Chapman was invited to be chaplain of the team, the headline of a featured article in the daily newspaper, the Albuquerque Journal, read, “Faith, Hoop, and Charity.”

Dr. Chapman has been pastor of two other churches. The first church he pastored was the First Baptist Church of Rogers, in central Texas, with a town population of just under 1,000. During one of his two and one-half years in Rogers, he baptized five percent of the population. He next became pastor of the First Baptist Church of Woodway in Waco, TX. During his 5½ years in Waco, he enrolled in the doctor of ministry degree program in its inaugural year at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and began a year of traveling round trip each week and staying several days in Fort Worth in order to complete his residence studies. He completed the final requirements for graduation after moving to Albuquerque, receiving the degree in 1975.

Dr. Chapman is a native of Kosciusko, Mississippi, and graduated with distinction from Mississippi College, Clinton, Mississippi. At the age of seven he came to Christ and was baptized by James W. Parrish, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Laurel, Mississippi, where Chapman’s family attended church at the time. During his teenage years at the First Baptist Church of Kosciusko, Lloyd Sparkman was his pastor. God called Chapman into vocational Christian ministry when he was twelve years old and specifically to the preaching ministry when he was 21.  He has often said, “I never had the problem of choosing a career. God drafted me at a young age, and from that point on, my desire was to follow Him wherever He led and do whatever He asked me to do.”  In 1968, he was ordained to the Gospel Ministry by the Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tennessee, Ramsey Pollard, pastor. 

Chapman wanted to be certain he was prepared to fulfill God’s Will for His life, so he attended seminary, receiving the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Forth Worth. While attending seminary, he was the recipient of the Stella P. Ross Memorial Award in evangelism. He was the first recipient awarded by Roy Fish during his first year as professor of evangelism at Southwestern. In later years, he has been awarded honorary doctorates from Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar, Missouri, Grand Canyon University, Phoenix, Arizona, and his alma mater, Mississippi College. In 2003 he was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Southwestern Seminary.  In 2006 Union University, Jackson, TN awarded Dr. Chapman the M. E. Dodd Award for distinguished leadership and statemanship, the university's highest award for denominational service.  He is the third recipient of the award.  The first two recipients were Jimmy Draper (2004) and Adrian Rogers (2005).  Also, Dr. Chapman has served as the vice chairman of Union University's Board of Trustees.

Chapman is married to the former Jodi Francis, a registered nurse from Memphis, Tennessee. She attended Bellevue Baptist Church during her childhood and teenage years. Dr. R. G. Lee was her pastor in her childhood years and Dr. Ramsey Pollard was pastor of Bellevue when she was a teenager. When the Chapmans married in 1963, Dr. Pollard performed their wedding ceremony. For eight years (1982-1990) Mrs. Chapman was a trustee of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, formerly the Sunday School Board and was one of two women on the 22-member SBC Peace Committee (1985-1987). They have two married children, Christopher and Stephanie and eight grandchildren.


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