Claypool, IV, John Rowan

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Claypool, IV, John Rowan

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John Rowan Claypool, IV was born on December 15, 1930 in Franklin, Kentucky. In 1952 he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Baylor University and ordained a Baptist minister in 1953. He subsequently went on to earn two degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville: a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1955, and a Doctor of Theology degree in 1959. His first ministry assignment after receiving his doctoral degree was as associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia. In 1960 he became pastor of Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. For eleven years he held this position and, under his leadership, Crescent Hill was one of the first congregations in the area to integrate.

Over time, Claypool found himself increasingly disenchanted with the Baptist Convention. In 1985 he sought admission to the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, where he completed a Certificate of Individual Theological Studies in 1986. He was ordained deacon and priest in 1986 in the Diocese of West Texas and began his first job as an Episcopal priest as Associate Rector of Christ Episcopal Church in San Antonio, where he had served as Theologian-in-Residence while completing his certificate program. Claypool’s next assignment took him to Birmingham, Alabama, where he served as rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church from 1987 until his retirement from full-time ministry in 2000. While at St. Luke’s, Claypool took the riskier path of hiring the first two female priests in Birmingham to work with him.

In the years following his semi-retirement, Claypool served as Theologian-in-Residence at Trinity Episcopal Church in New Orleans, Louisiana; a Priest Associate at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Georgia; and as Professor of Homiletics at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta. Claypool died on September 3, 2005.

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