The Reverend Doctor Herschel H. Hobbs was a towering figure in mid-twentieth-century Southern Baptist life. He was a graduate of Samford University and just after Thanksgiving the university installed a new plaque honoring him just outside my office.
Hobbs was a native of Alabama, pastor of First Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, preacher on the Baptist Hour, writer of widely-read Sunday school lessons, architect of the 1963 revision of the Baptist Faith and Message, and the only graduate of Samford University to serve as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. (Another one may be elected later this year.)
Last week I discovered that another memorial to Hobbs has been in the center of Samford’s campus for over thirty years. He, along with his wife Frances J. Hobbs, are remembered by one of the four raised flowerbeds (or “gardens”) in the middle of Samford’s Quad. The Hobbses attended Howard College, as Samford was then known, together. They rode public transportation from Ensley where he served as a pastor to the campus in East Lake. They graduated together in 1932. A bronze tablet records the dedication and the concrete border is carved with four passage of scripture which may have been chosen by Hobbs.
While I have read only a little of his writings, I expect the four scripture verses carved in the wide garden boarder where students sometimes sit are a fair summary of the gospel as Mr. Hobbs preached it.
“For by Grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
“The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).
“Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).
Last month Samford also announced that a new scholarship had been started in Hobbs’s name by South Roebuck Baptist Church for students in the Department of Biblical & Religious Studies.
It is good that future students will be able to continue to build on his legacy.