Bob Hutto, M.Div. ’95, ended up at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School “by accident.”
In 1990, Hutto was preaching at Fairfield Highlands Church of Christ in Birmingham, when he wanted to go deeper in his knowledge of New Testament Greek. The day he began researching course options, he happened to meet then-New Testament professor Jerry Batson who told him about Beeson. Shortly thereafter, Hutto applied and was accepted.
During his second year as a Master of Divinity student, Hutto accepted the call to serve as minister of Oak Mountain Church of Christ in Pelham, where he served while he finished his degree.
Thirty years later, Hutto is still serving Oak Mountain Church of Christ and is still using lessons he learned at Beeson in his ministry.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better experience,” he said.
“As I look back over my life, it seems that God was shaping me to be a minister of the gospel from early on,” Hutto said.
The son of a minister, Hutto learned about preaching and longevity in ministry from his father, who served churches for more than 50 years. He said that the local church was the focal point of their home.
But as a teenager and young adult, Hutto didn’t think a preaching ministry was the vocational path for him—until one day when he had an “awakening.”
“I began to see what opportunities the Lord had set before me and to evaluate the abilities he had given me,” Hutto said. “I realized that I needed to use them to advance the cause of Christ as best I could.”
Now more than 40 years later, Hutto has been faithfully preaching the Word of God.
Pillar of the Church
At Beeson, Hutto found great value in the interdenominational character of the school, in which theological differences and differences in the interpretation of Scripture were to be expected.
“If we were to agree in everything, we would likely not be thinking for ourselves,” Hutto said. “I was always treated with great respect.”
Four professors in particular had the greatest impact on him: Gerald Bray, Ken Mathews, Frank Thielman and Richard Wells.
“They stimulated in me the desire to do my best,” Hutto said. “The tools I acquired at Beeson have made me a better student of God’s Word and as a result a better teacher of it.”
Bray praised Hutto’s faithfulness to one place for 30 years.
“He is an excellent preacher and teacher and one who is frequently seen in the Samford library, where he often prepares his sermons,” he said. “He is also a humble man with no pretensions, having turned down teaching posts in Florida in order to stay with his congregation.”
Bray continued: “Bob is the sort of person that is unremarkable to the outside world, and yet models everything that we would wish a Beeson alumnus to be. In short, he is a pillar of the church whom most people would never notice but whose place is key in the building up of the people of God.”
Longevity in Ministry
Hutto gave three reasons why he has managed to stay at one church for so long: his wife, his relationship to his congregation and his commitment to preach Scripture.
Cherri, Hutto’s wife of 41 years, “understands the work of the preacher, and her commitment, support and help have been invaluable through the years,” he said. They have two adult children, who are both married.
Hutto also believes that his congregation sees him as one of them.
“Perhaps I’m the one who does most of the preaching and teaching, but I’m no different than anyone else. So, we’re all in this together and have a mutually beneficial relationship.”
Finally, he is committed to preaching the Word of God.
“If I were to draw attention to myself, people would quickly grow tired of it. But the Word of God is always new and fresh.”
And it’s this commitment that drives Hutto to diligently study and prepare for each sermon.
“Dr. Mathews said to me one day, ‘The call to preach is a call to study.’ Those words have stayed with me through the years.”
Best of Beeson
Hutto will receive the Alumnus of the Year award at Beeson’s second Alumni Conference, Nov. 7-8.
“It is an honor to give this year’s Alumnus of the Year award to Minister Bob Hutto,” said Douglas Sweeney, dean of Beeson. “Our prayer is that our graduates will be faithful ministers of the gospel for the long haul. In this way, Bob is a living answer to this prayer and represents the best of Beeson.”
When Sweeney called Hutto to let him know of this award, he was hesitant to accept it at first. But he finally accepted the award only after he hoped it might encourage others “to devote themselves to the ministry of the Word.”
“I’m not an academic; I haven’t written any books or established any charitable foundations,” Hutto said. “I’m simply a gospel preacher. My goal is to use the gifts the Lord has given me to help some people get to heaven. May all we do in word and deed be to the praise of the glory of his grace.”