Yesterday’s wonderful memorial service was a fitting tribute to an outstanding man. Dr. David O. Moore passed away on October 28 and a large number of family and friends gathered for the service yesterday (Nov. 12, 2016) at the Second Baptist Church in Liberty (Mo.) where he had been a member for more than 60 years.
The homily was given by Dr. Gordon Kingsley, the inimitable past-president of William Jewell College, where Dr. Moore had taught from 1956 until his retirement in 1986.
I first met Dr. Moore in 1957 when I transferred to Jewell as a junior and he was one of my Bible professors there. He was an impressive teacher, but my greatest debt of gratitude to him is for what he did for me outside the classroom.
On June’s and my graduation day from William Jewell College in 1959, Dr. Moore approached me soon after the ceremonies were over. I had just been awarded the centennial scholarship to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, which was a surprise to me but not to Dr. Moore. He had been on the selection committee.
Dr. Moore asked me if I was going to accept the scholarship. I told him that I would like to if I could see any way we could financially make the move to Kentucky. At that point, June and I had not only been married nearly two years, we also had a nine-month-old baby. I was pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, a small church in Windsor, Mo., and was planning to commute from there to the new seminary in Kansas City, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
I was dumbfounded when Dr. Moore told me that he had just been to Louisville for the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. While he was there he visited the church where he had been a student pastor when he was in seminary. That church, Ekron Baptist Church about fifty miles southwest of Louisville, was looking for a new pastor and Dr. Moore had recommended me.
Dr. Moore said all I needed to do was to give him a date on which I could go preach a trial sermon at Ekron and he would call to tell them I was coming. So arrangements were made, June and I drove to Ekron and I preached at the morning and evening services on that Sunday in the middle of June. The church had a business meeting following the evening service-- and they extended the call for me to be their new pastor.
Thus, on the first of July in 1959 I became pastor of the Ekron Baptist Church and remained in that pastorate until September of 1963. To this day I remain grateful to Dr. Moore for being the one who made that significant time of service and learning possible.
On our second and third furloughs from our mission work in Japan, Dr. Moore was the chair of the Religion Department at William Jewell College, and he asked me to teach part-time at Jewell during the academic years of 1976-77 and 1981-82. That first time was especially meaningful because my son Keith and his fiancee Brenda were first year students at Jewell and took one (or maybe two) of the classes I taught that year.
Michael Willett Newheart, who has for many years been a New Testament professor at Howard Divinity School in D.C., was one of the outstanding upperclassmen I had in one of my classes that year—and we have been friends ever since. He flew to Kansas City late Friday and spent two nights with us in order to attend Dr. Moore’s memorial service.
Michael’s roommate at Jewell was Steve Hemphill, who was listed in the bulletin as Dr. Moore’s “former student & life friend.” As a part of the service he gave a touching talk titled “Requiem for a Fellow Pilgrim.”
Dr. Moore was on sabbatical in 1981-82. He invited me once again to teach at Jewell that year, and I had the privilege of using his faculty office (and library) during that wonderful year. On the wall of his office was a horseshoe with the accompanying words, “God loves a happy workhorse.” Those words were an appropriate reminder for me as well as for him.
Dr. Moore, who was born on March 11, 1921, was an excellent preacher and much in demand as a supply preacher in churches in a wide circle around Liberty—and he knew how to communicate with the “common” people in the pews. My home church was about a hundred miles north of Liberty and he preached there on more than one occasion—and my parents, who were north Missouri farmers, were highly impressed with and appreciative of him.
As you see from the picture of bulletin, yesterday's memorial service was “in praise of God and in memory of Dr. David O. Moore”—and it lived up to its billing.