Posted by Philip Poole on 2009-10-26

Two Samford University graduates who serve together at the First Baptist Church of Knoxville, Tenn., are the guest worship leaders for the annual homecoming worship Nov. 8.  The service is at 10 a.m. in Samford’s Andrew Gerow Hodges Chapel.


William D. (Bill) Shiell, class of 1994, will preach.  Worship leader is Kely G. Hatley, class of 1992.  Shiell is senior pastor and Hatley is minister of music at the Knoxville church.


This year’s service is the 15th homecoming worship service.  The first service was Oct. 25, 1995, in what was then the new divinity chapel.  The original service was an opportunity to showcase the new chapel for alumni returning for homecoming, according to J.M. (Monty) Hogewood, who was director of alumni relations at the time.  Hogewood is now a senior advancement officer for Samford.


The first service featured popular religion faculty member Sigurd Bryan preaching and attracted an overflow crowd, Hogewood said.  The service has been so popular that it continues as a part of the homecoming weekend celebration.  In recent years, the tradition has been to use Samford graduates as the worship leaders, and the guest speaker usually is from one of the reunion classes.  For several years, the Samford Ministries Choir has sung for the service. 


From the first year, the service also has always included a brief time of remembrance for alumni who died during the previous year, Hogewood said.  Another tradition is concluding the service with the singing of the Samford Alma Mater, arranged by alumnus Timothy P. Banks, class of 1974.


Other alumni and students who will participate in worship leadership include Ben Telfair, current student president of university ministries; retired faculty member Harold Hunt, class of 1954; retired administrator Jean Bridges Thomason, class of 1964; MaryAnn Buffington Moon, class of 1976, a Huntsville, Ala., teacher; and Taylor Clement, class of 2007, a teacher and administrator from Nashville.  Joshua Bullock, a junior music major from Anniston, Ala., will be organist.

University Minister Matt Kerlin will preside at this year’s service.

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.