Posted by Philip Poole on 2008-10-21

Samford University alumni James R. Barnette and Gregory Steele will lead the annual homecoming worship service Oct. 26. The service is at 10:30 a.m. in Andrew Gerow Hodges Chapel on the Samford campus.

Barnette will preach, and Steele will be the worship leader. Both Barnette and Steele are part of the silver anniversary reunion class of 1983. Barnette is associate professor of religion at Samford and also serves as teaching pastor for Birmingham's Brookwood Baptist Church. Steele is minister of music for the First Baptist Church of Covington, Ga.

The homecoming worship service began in the mid-1990s as a way for alumni to experience worship in the then-new Hodges Chapel. It was so popular that it has become a homecoming tradition, according to David B. Goodwin, Samford's director of alumni and parents programs.

Other musicians assisting with the service are Melinda Howard Dressler, class of 1974, who will be organist, and Anna Williams, class of 1983, who will be pianist. Dressler is organist/music assistant at Brookwood Baptist Church, Birmingham. Williams, who also is a 1988 graduate of Samford's Cumberland School of Law, is an attorney in Montgomery and serves as a pianist at First Baptist Church there. The Samford Ministries Choir will sing.

Several Samford alumni will have leadership roles during the service, including April Robinson, class of 1993, minister to students for campus and community involvement at Samford; Sigurd F. Bryan, class of 1946, a retired religion professor at Samford; MaryAnn Buffington Moon, class of 1976, a high school teacher and Samford parent from Huntsville, Ala.; Bridget C. Rose, class of 2000, curator, Andrew Gerow Hodges Chapel, and an adjunct instructor in the core curriculum at Samford; Brad Tomas, class of 2002, a Samford admissions counselor, and his wife, Kelly Brown Tomas, class of 2002, a production assistant, Southern Progress Corporation, Birmingham, Ala.

Student Mark Cook of Dallas, Texas, also will participate. Cook is student president for Samford's university ministries program.

The 2008 homecoming worship service is one of several events this year highlighting the 60th anniversary of Samford Sunday, Goodwin said. With only minor adjustments and a name change, Samford Sunday – begun by the religion department as H-Day when the university was called Howard College – continues to connect the university, its ministerial students and the churches that eventually call Samford students and graduates as ministers. Bryan served for many years as the faculty leader for the program and continues to assist on a volunteer basis. Barnette is the current faculty advisor for the student-led program.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.