Papers of the Rev. John R. Claypool IV Now Open for Research

The Personal Papers of the Reverend Dr. John Rowan Claypool IV (1930-2005), a nationally-respected minister, theologian and writer, are now open for research.  The papers include a large archive of audiovisual recordings, indexed sermons, correspondence, books, photographs and scrapbooks from the period 1953-2005.  

Claypool was first ordained to the ministry in 1953 in the Baptist Church, and served as a pastor of five Baptist churches in Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas and Mississippi.  Widely admired for his message of theological inclusiveness, Claypool was a preacher and an activist.  During the 1950s and 60s, he served as a leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and was publicly committed to causes of equality.  In the 1980s he made a formal shift to the Episcopal Church.  Claypool was influenced by what he described as “the uniqueness of the Anglican approach to Christianity,” particularly the sacraments, which he claimed exceeded his “tool chest” as a Baptist minister.  In his seminary application Claypool wrote: “The issues of modern life that beckon me most compellingly are helping people develop the kind of authentic spirituality that will enable them to live humanely and redemptively.”  Claypool was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1986, and served as the rector of Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church in Birmingham for nearly 14 years.  He later joined the faculty of Mercer University’s School of Theology as Professor of Homiletics, a position he held until his death in 2005.  

The Archives of the Episcopal Church is pleased and honored to serve as the official repository for the Claypool Papers.  For more information, or to access our collections, please contact us or call (512) 472-6816.