Published on March 1, 2024 by Neal Embry  
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In April, Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School will host its inaugural preaching conference, honoring the legacy and ministries of longtime Beeson professor Robert Smith Jr. as he prepares to retire.

The conference is set for April 29-30, with a banquet honoring Smith for his many years of service to Beeson following the closing worship session on April 30.

Smith announced his retirement in November 2023 and will leave his full-time teaching position at the end of this academic year. Smith, the Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity, has served Beeson for more than 25 years.

This April’s event gives Beeson a wonderful opportunity to honor Smith for his dedication to the school and its students, said Beeson’s associate dean, Tom Fuller.

“Dr. Smith has been a beloved member of the Beeson and Samford community since 1997 and an exemplar of faithful and compelling preaching long before that. He is a tireless and passionate teacher, mentor, pastor, and friend to many,” Fuller said. “The influence of his teaching ministry and his pastoral care is evident in the lives of many ministers of the gospel today.”

As part of a grant awarded to Samford by Lilly Endowment to support compelling preaching through the university’s new Spirit and Power Project, the conference is rooted in Beeson’s commitment to training “pastors who can preach.”

“The Beeson Preaching Conference reflects the importance we have always placed on preaching, and it represents a new step in the life and ministry of the school,” Fuller said.

Registration opens at 4 p.m. on April 29, with dinner following at 5:30 p.m. in the student commons. The opening worship service begins at 6:45 p.m. at Hodges Chapel, followed by a dessert fellowship. Fred Campbell, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in the San Francisco Bay Area, will deliver the evening’s message.

On April 30, there will be two panel discussions at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. with the first focusing on Smith’s preaching and the second focusing on his teaching of preaching.

Following a plenary session featuring Michael Duduit, Dean of Anderson University’s Clamp Divinity School, on Smith’s preaching ministry at 1 p.m., Smith will preach during the closing worship service. The banquet, which will be held at The Harbert Center  in downtown Birmingham, will begin at 6 p.m.

The event is limited to 200 guests, so purchase your tickets now! Tickets for the conference and the banquet must be purchased separately.


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.