A gifted teacher and preacher, the Rev. Robert Smith, of Birmingham, Ala., is highly sought for speaking engagements throughout the country.

Thanks to the help of an old colleague, Smith will be coming to Baton Rouge for a free one-day preaching seminar from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 20 at First Presbyterian Church, 763 North Blvd. The seminar is being sponsored by First Presbyterian and Abounding Love Ministries.

The Rev. Dick Gates, an associate pastor at First Presbyterian, described Smith as a phenomenal preacher with a keen memory. “He could stand up and lecture for 40 minutes without notes, quoting extensively from other works.”

Gates served as an adjunct at Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham, where Smith has been an associate professor of preaching since 1997. The two men began talking more than two years ago about Smith coming to Baton Rouge.

Smith has spoken at nearly 50 colleges, universities and seminaries nationally and internationally. He spent 20 years as pastor of the New Mission Missionary Baptist Church in Cincinnati. He holds a master of divinity and a doctorate from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

He is the author of the 2008 book “Doctrine That Dances: Bringing Doctrinal Preaching and Teaching to Life.”

Gates said Smith will offer pointers on how to develop a doctrinal sermon.

“It’s learning how not to teach over the heads of the people but yet preaching into their hearts good biblical doctrine in such a way that they understand it and they’re able to apply it in their lives,” Gates said.

Though aimed at preachers, the program is also open to lay leaders.

The Rev. Albert White, the pastor of Abounding Love Ministries, added of Smith, “He’s really preparing ministers for their call from God.”

Smith, who is also scheduled to preach during the 10:30 a.m. service Aug. 21, will be a treat for the community, Gates said.

Gates said Smith’s wife, Wanda Taylor-Smith, will offer a short workshop with women. Taylor-Smith, who has a master’s in nursing and doctorate in women’s studies, has led Bible studies and seminars with a passion for issues concerning wives of ministers.

For more on the seminar, contact Gates at (225) 387-0617 or go to http://www.fpcbr.org.

Shiloh honors 'Legends’

The Rev. Charles T. Smith, of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, was a youth when he first heard classical soloist Lenora Lafayette, who will be one of the seven honorees for Saturday’s “Celebration of Musical Legends” at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.

“This is during the time of heavy segregation and opportunities for young, black artists were very limited, but she sang the outstanding solo at the graduation exercise (at McKinley School),” Smith said. “The old superintendent of schools was so impressed that he said he was going to see to it that this 'girl’ get a music education because she’s got an outstanding voice.”

Lafayette went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., and enjoyed a successful tenure at the Julliard School of Music in New York City and a career in Europe.

“Opportunities were limited for African-American people in this country, so she moved to Europe where she received great acclaim in several European countries, and she spent the rest of her life in Europe as a very successful concert artist there,” Smith said.

Lafayette will be honored posthumously (she died in 1975) with six other “musical legends.” The concert starts at 4 p.m. at Shiloh, 185 Eddie Robinson Sr. Drive.

“Celebration of Musical Legends” is in conjunction with the observance of the Shiloh’s 139th year anniversary. Anniversary services conclude at 11 a.m. Sunday, with the Rev. Rene Brown, of Mount Zion First Baptist Church, as the guest speaker.

Special musical guest for the concert will be mezzo-soprano singer and Baton Rouge native Kayla Dean Pitcher. She is an adjunct professor of music at New York College/City University of New York.

Pitcher’s parents, Southern Law Center Chancellor Freddie Pitcher and Harriett Pitcher, are Shiloh members.

Other honorees will be:

•Helen Morton Gist, a member of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, who retired after 35 years as a music education instructor at Southern.

•Mary McCoy Johnese, of Raceland, who has been a choir director, leader and counselor in the church and community.

•Leroy Pero, director of music at Wesley United Methodist Church.

•The Rev. Van Smith Jr., a pastor who also taught vocal music for 34 years and retired as choral director from Plaquemine High School.

•Earl T. Taylor who has been a mainstay of the music ministry at Mount Zion First Baptist Church for more than 50 years.

•Oscar L. Williams, adjunct professor of music, former professor of music at Southern for more than 30 years and former band director at Catholic High School-Baton Rouge (the first African-American band director at a predominately white school in East Baton Rouge Parish in 1968).

Leaders meeting

During his 43 years of ministry, the Rev. James Borchert has traveled extensively to Europe, Ukraine, Nigeria, Mozambique, India, China, South Korea and other regions of the world.

And Borchert, 70, of Fort Worth, Texas, will share some of his experiences at the Servant Leaders Summit Meeting set for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the West Baton Rouge Conference Center, 2750 N. Westport Drive in Port Allen.

The summit is for leaders from all arenas of society, including government, and the medical and legal communities, said event organizer Ken Fabre, a minister and lawyer.

“Back before Mozambique had an embassy, back during the Reagan administration, the Lord had spoken to (Borchert) to go do some mission work in Mozambique,” Fabre said. “Somehow by divine opportunity, somebody in the Reagan administration set up an embassy, and they sent him and a team.

“He’s been going back and forth for years, and he has a testimony to share,” Fabre said.

The event is being sponsored by POPAPIC (People of Potential and Purpose in Christ), a nonprofit group founded by Fabre to help leaders and youths.

The meeting starts with worship and intercession at 9 a.m. POPAPIC vision and goals will be discussed at 10:15 a.m., followed by a noon luncheon and fellowship. Borchert will speak at 1:30 p.m.

Call (225) 279-1557 or go to http://www.popapic.org.

Faith Matters runs every other Saturday. Contact Terry Robinson at (225) 388-0238 or email trobinson@theadvocate.com.