about Jim

The Rev. Dr. James Green Somerville is Pastor of Richmond’s First Baptist Church, a position he has held since May, 2008. Before that he served for eight years as Pastor of the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, D.C. Jim holds a Master of Divinity in preaching and teaching and a Ph.D. in New Testament studies from Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He graduated from Georgetown College, Kentucky, with a degree in Fine Art and before that from the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

Jim’s articles and sermons have been published in a number of different journals including Christian Century, Lectionary Homiletics, and the Upper Room. He has preached on Day1 (formerly the Protestant Hour) and the Chicago-based 30 Good Minutes. The sermon he preached on the Sunday following September 11, 2001, was published in an anthology called Restoring Faith: America’s Religious Leaders Answer Terror with Hope (Walker & Company, New York).

In addition to his work as pastor, he is the Co-Founder of A Sermon for Every Sunday, an online resource featuring “Video sermons from America’s best preachers for every Sunday of the Liturgical Year” (www.asermonforeverysunday.com).

Dr. Somerville is one of six sons of a Presbyterian minister who took what amounted to a vow of poverty to live and work among the poor in Boone County, West Virginia. In those often challenging circumstances, Jim’s mother used her gift of storytelling to make the Bible come alive, and to inspire in her children a lasting love for God.

Jim is married to Christy Treadwell Somerville, who is a kindergarten teacher at St. Michael’s Episcopal School in Richmond. He has two daughters, Ellie and Catherine, who are happily married to brilliant and talented men.

28 thoughts on “about Jim

  1. Pastor Jim has been extraodinary in my Christian walk, I do say…
    He is a real blessing to me as my pastor, Spiritual leader, and friend..

  2. Hi Paster Jim,

    I miss you so much that my soul cleaves like Christ’s 40 days. Richmond is a very luck city!!!!

    In life as you know there are many influences but not many effects. You effected me to such an extent that you changed the course of my life…from total career sunami to perspective; from relationship lions dens to marital bliss, from self deluded desperation to a view of the kingdom of God.

    May you always be blessed and well up a million fold to bless all those that share in your love.

    A man of contradictions…. who is brilliant and yet talks everybodies language; who is righteous yet can rebuke with a story and never make a soul feel judged; who is so incredibly credentialed yet never lets pride raise any short hairs. Humility will always be your most precious crown and example.

    Love always and best wishes.


  3. Just a quick note. I found your website when doing a google image search for ‘ballerina dancers feet’ and found myself pulled into your writing; your lunch with the Imam, writings on the nature of “passion,” Islam, quotations from the Buddah topped by seeing the writings of Aristotle on your bookshelf (I saw this in your portrait of course, I’m not hiding in your study.) Your open-minded, open-hearted, wise and thoughtful approach to life is inspirational, even to someone like me who admittedly has a difficult time accepting the shortcomings of organized religion.

    I feel this experience is a bit of a followup to a discussion I had with my husband recently, about how I felt that religion and philosophy could not go hand-in-hand as they attempted to answer the same questions. He said he felt, though he couldn’t name anyone, that there must be religious leaders who incorporated philosophy into their beliefs. And I argued that if we were to ask a Pastor or a Rabbi for advice on life, they were 99% most likely to point us in the direction of their holy book(s) for answers. I said “I can’t imagine a pastor saying, OH, YOU SHOULD READ PLATO’S ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE, OR OH, YOU SHOULD READ A BIT OF ARISTOTLE.” And now, I see that I was wrong. On my simple quest for images of ballerina dancer’s feet, I’ve run across such a prime example of a person who might do such a thing. This is fodder for my husband’s argument, proving me quite wrong. And strangely, I can’t wait to tell him that he was right.

  4. Pastor Somerville, One of my colleagues at JMU provided us the information about Nurse Heidi in Haiti. Would you know if financial assistance would aid her regarding the work she’s doing there? If that’s the case and she has contact information, I would like to learn more about how my wife and I could possibly provide assistance.

    Thank you for your time and help with this request!

    Charles West, M.Ed., NCC
    JMU Dept. of Nursing

  5. I was working at the Hall Tree in Richmond, va. when the owner
    Joan Willliams and several others were raving about this great
    new minister at First Baptist Church. I knew he had big shoes
    to fill, because my parents had high regard for the former long time minister there. They spent much of their lives as Baptists,
    tho I was raised Presbyterian from the age of 10. After my sophmore year at William and Mary, I was a counselor at Camp
    Hanover , a Presyterian camp in Mechanicsville. Imagine my
    complete surprise when I realized after watching a sermon on
    TV one Sunday morning that the new minister at FBC was also a
    counselor at Camp Hanover that summer. We all knew then
    that Jim Somerville was destined for great things, I’m glad he
    has brought his talents to Richmond and FBC. Please accept
    my best wishes for your continued success.

  6. Jay: That summer seems like a long, long time ago! Thanks for remembering, and thanks for the good wishes. Hope to see you sometime.

  7. It is so great to read about Ps. Jim. It has been my first time but i have liked the information and i think i will enjoy it.

    May the Lord bless you.

    Ps. Gideon
    Streams Of Healing Ministries- Makerere Kavule
    Kampala Uganda (East-Africa)

  8. I found your blog when I was searching for references to Jacob’s Ladder for a Facebook page I am making. I enjoyed your story about singing the song and making up lyrics that, while not the actual lyrics, were fitting for the spirit of the song. I liked your writing and put a bookmark for your blog on my computer. This morning, I looked again, and this time I saw a comment that someone made who had found your blog while searching for information about ballerina’s feet. I read what she wrote, read your blog entry about passion, and knew I had found something special. I keep telling myself I don’t have time for anymore reading than what I already have!!!!! But, I will be adding your blog to that list and look forward to reading more soon:-)

  9. I found that image on a Google search, and I’ve been looking for the photographer ever since. Everybody seems to like that picture. Please let me know if you come up with a name so I can give the photographer proper credit.

  10. Pingback: Renewing A Christmas Eve Tradition at Richmond’s First Baptist « BAMAPRODUCER

  11. Dear Pastor Sommerville, I attend a rather large church in the west end of Henrico County; one Sunday, some time ago, I wasn’t feeling well and decided to watch you. How refreshing to hear a pastor, other than my own, share the plan of salvation. After all, isn’t that what the Lord wants us to share? His love, of course, but, salvation always first. I do have a quick question for you – do you agree with the cult of Islam? Do you really have Buddhists books on your shelf in your library? I am most anxious to know, as I was contemplating visiting your church soon; however, in good conscience, the Lord would not smile on my visiting with a pastor’s library filled with such demonic writings. Demonic? Yes, indeed. Islam is full of hatred for Israel, does not believe in Salvation, etc., etc. Please respond with a strong ‘NO’ that these writings your quotes do not derive from such sinful literature. Many thanks, Janice

  12. Janice: Do I agree with the cult of Islam? No. If I did I would be a Muslim and not a Christian. And I don’t think I have any Buddhist books on the shelf in my library. I do have a lot of love in my heart for Buddhists, Muslims, etc. I believe that many of them are seeking God with all their strength. I am trying to understand them and relate to them. When I meet someone like that I often ask, “What do you love about your religion?” which gives me a chance to tell them what I love about mine. The conversations have been fascinating.

    Thanks for writing.

  13. Jim Somerville, I am so glad to read your blog (which I just found!) – I can almost hear your voice from the pulpit at Wingate Baptist Church. I am so grateful for your influence in my life and in our community!

  14. Wow, I was looking up someone from Sherman High School and there you are. Looks like your are very busy doing the work of the Lord. How wonderful. I even recognized your photo before I read your “bio” section.

  15. So glad to have found you! Many fond memories of Wingate. I still have 3 of your stories that I clipped from the church bulletin back in the day that I use to this day for devotions when I am asked to lead one. My favorite is “gone fishin”. It resonates with me everytime I teach it. Don’t we all from time to time need to recast our nets, put the sign on our office door that says “gone fishin”? And knowing that we will all be back to that glad work for which we have been called to do. Thanks for your influence in my life over 25 years ago…and still today through your gift of writing! Cheers friend!

  16. Wanda Manicure
    Long time friends of your parents. Have lost contact. Would you let me know how, or, let them know so we can get in touch? I’m from Wise, and remember you from a little boy. Good family you came from!

  17. Wanda: My mom and dad are in a place called Pendleton Manor in Franklin, WV. Dad is in hospice and Mom is having trouble with dementia, but Dad is at peace and in no pain and my mother is just as cheerful as a cricket! She always used to tell me that she wanted me to marry your daughter, Jamie.

  18. Adrian Harward Would you mind giving me an address for your Mom & Dad? I would love to send them a card. I will never forget them or you.

  19. Mr. Somerville,
    I watched your live tv sermon on 1/5/14
    I could not help but notice the great cut
    I your suit! I have a teenage boy that I have
    the hardest time finding formal/ professional
    wear for. I showed him the broadcast and he then
    asked me to find a way to contact you and ask.:)
    I hope you don’t mind, if it’s not too personal an inquiry,
    Can you please tell me where you purchase your suits?
    Much Appreciated,
    Rima Chater

  20. Rima: Thanks for the nice compliment! I bought that suit at Joseph A. Bank when they were having one of their incredible sales. It’s a slim cut, which is new to me. I think they are making suits skinnier these days.

    All my best to you and your son!


  21. Mr. Somerville,
    Thank you so much for your prompt reply. I was very sorry to hear about your father passing away. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Especially your mom.

  22. Hi Reverand Jim Somerville!

    This is Sarah Fulcher! I’ve discovered your impressive career ! Congratulations!

    Please email me if you can!
    Thank you!

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