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The Passionate Jesus

Day1 host Peter Wallace's new book on the emotions of Jesus is, according to Marcus Borg, “An illuminating and powerful personal meditation." Ideal for personal or group study.

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The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville

The Rev. Jim Somerville is pastor of the First Baptist Church of Richmond, VA.

Member of:

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

Representative of:

First Baptist Church

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

First Baptist Church

The Rev. Dr. James Green Somerville is pastor of the First Baptist Church of Richmond, VA.

He is the 16th Senior Pastor in the 228-year history of First Baptist Church. A gifted preacher and a seasoned pastor, he has preached on the Chicago-based "30 Good Minutes," the internationally broadcast Day1 radio program, and was one of the featured preachers at the Festival of Homiletics at the Washington National Cathedral in 2004. His articles and sermons have been published in Christian Century, Leadership, The Upper Room, Preaching, Lectionary Homiletics, and Preaching Great Texts. He was awarded the Clyde T. Francisco Preaching Award while a student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jim served as Pastor of the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington, DC for seven years before coming to Richmond. Prior to that, Jim served as Pastor of Wingate Baptist Church in Wingate, North Carolina, for nine years. While attending seminary, Jim was pastor of First Baptist Church in New Castle, Kentucky.

Jim was a Boy Scout, earning Eagle Scout at the age of 13. At age 15 he began his studies at the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. In college he was an All-Conference distance runner and was editor of the Georgetown College campus newspaper. He was recognized as the Outstanding Senior in Art and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Georgetown.

In his time off, Jim enjoys traveling, backpacking, sailing, reading, watching movies, and spending time with his family.

Jim and his wife, Christy, have two daughters, Ellie and Catherine.

Born March 14, 1959, in Selma, Alabama, Jim moved with his family to Wise, Virginia, in 1961, and to Boone County, West Virginia, in 1967. He grew up as the third of six sons of a Presbyterian minister who had a special ministry to the poor in West Virginia.

He earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, in 1991. His major was New Testament and his minor, Preaching. He earned the Master of Divinity from Southern Seminary in 1987 with a concentration as a Pastor/Teacher.

Jim was an Art major and minored in English when he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Georgetown College in Georgetown, KY, in 1981.

He was ordained (1986) by First Baptist Church, New Castle, KY and licensed (1984) by Faith Baptist Church, Georgetown, KY.


Latest Content by The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville

The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville

Jim Somerville: Are we supposed to be afraid of God?

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

 

Sometimes, in my Talkback sessions, someone will ask about that biblical expression, "the fear of the Lord."  "Are we supposed to be afraid of God?" they ask.  No.  That's not what the word fear means, not in that context.  It means something more like "awe," or "reverence," or "profound respect."  But you can see where the word came from, can't you?  From an experience like this one at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19): where Moses went up to receive the Ten Commandments and the people trembled in fear before the mountain of the Lord.  And when the writer of Proverbs said, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (9:10), he had something like this in mind, where you have such reverence, such awe, such profound respect for God that when God says, "Thou shalt not" do something then "Thou dost not" do it!  And this really is what wisdom is all about in the Old Testament: it's about listening to God, and doing what he says, so that your life will turn out well.  If you don't believe it just try not listening to God, and not doing what he says.  Try murdering and stealing and lying and cheating and worshiping idols and dishonoring your parents and then tell me how your life turns out.

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The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville

Jim Somerville: Eulogy for a Tiny, Bright-Eyed Bird

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

 

On Thursday, November 10, I got word that a 15-year-old girl in the church's youth group had taken her own life.  I jumped in my car and went to the hospital where I found her mother in the waiting room.  I hugged her and hugged her, not knowing what to say and thinking it might be best not to say anything.  But on Tuesday, November 15, we held a memorial service for her daughter in a sanctuary full of grieving friends and family members and a few hundred tearful teenagers, wondering how such a thing could happen to one of their own. This is what I said:

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Other Recent Content by The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville

The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

July 20, 2016

Jim Somerville: Getting Right with Each Other

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

A few blocks from here there is a church that is made up of mostly black members, because years ago they found they were not welcome in the 'white church.'
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Transcript

July 24, 2016

Jim Somerville: God's Crazy, Mixed-Up Family

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

Dr. Jim Somerville returns with another fresh retelling of an Old Testament story--this time, the story of the prophet Hosea, who illustrates God's faithfulness despite Israel's scandalous unfaithfulness.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Transcript

June 12, 2016

How to Get Exactly What You Want

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

In his sermon on 1 Kings 21, Dr. Jim Somerville says Elijah really lets Ahab have it with the word of God, who has rules about the proper use of power, about protecting the rights of the weak, and about justice. So it’s not hard to get exactly what you want, what’s hard is giving God exactly what God wants.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

November 05, 2015

Jim Somerville: Learning to Float

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

After being run through the wringer of the Reformation and the Enlightenment, faith has come to mean believing the right things, and believing them no matter what, even if they are not scientifically verifiable. But it was not always so.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

May 26, 2015

Jim Somerville: The Church and Mr. Coffee

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

I heard someone refer to the church as a 'disciple-making factory' recently, and I sat up a little straighter because I’ve had that thought myself.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

February 19, 2015

Jim Somerville: What We Can Do About ISIS

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

At one point on my recent trip to the Middle East an Army chaplain said to me with tears in his eyes, “We are at the beginning of something like the Protestant Reformation, and Father Nabil Haddad is like Martin Luther.”
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

October 11, 2014

Jim Somerville: A Sermon for Every Sunday

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

For several months now I have been working on a project called 'A Sermon for Every Sunday,' which was conceived as a way to help small, struggling churches that don’t have preachers, but has evolved to include churches in the interim, house churches, Bible studies, small groups, Wednesday night programs, and Sunday school classes.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

September 21, 2014

Jim Somerville: How to Talk to a Complete Stranger about Church

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

Two Sundays ago, at the suggestion of preaching professor David Lose, I challenged my congregation to ask people if they go to church and if not, to ask them why. I try never to ask my congregation to do something I’m not willing to do myself, and so, on the way home that day, I asked someone. Here’s what happened...
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

January 01, 2014

Jim Somerville: Which Jesus Will We Give Them?

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

When you make up your mind that you will do whatever it takes to get people to come to church, then you will get just the kind of church you deserve: a congregation of fickle religious consumers who will leave you as soon as the church next door opens an espresso bar.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

May 27, 2012

Dr. Jim Somerville: For God So Loved the Church

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

Today is the Day of Pentecost. I was looking through some of my old files for inspiration and found these thoughts in a sermon preached in 2005 called, “For God so Loved the Church.”
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

February 11, 2012

Dr. Jim Somerville: A Prayer for Your Wedding Night

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

The other morning when I was finishing up my devotional reading I thumbed through the Apocrypha, and stumbled on an interesting wedding night prayer from the Book of Tobit.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

January 20, 2012

Dr. Jim Somerville: Making Time for Heart, Mind, Soul, and Strength

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

Once every three months or so I try to go on a 24-hour spiritual retreat. I just get away by myself somewhere. Here's what I try to do.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

December 03, 2011

Dr. Jim Somerville: Will the world end on Dec. 12, 2012?

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

Not according to Walter T. Witschey. Dr. Witschey wrote to me after a recent sermon on 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 in which I mentioned that some people think the world is going to end on December 21, 2012, because that’s what the Mayan calendar “suggests.”
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

November 26, 2011

Dr. Jim Somerville: My Mom's "Maturity Checklist"

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

Here is a “maturity checklist” my mother designed to help me and my brothers know if we were ready to make it on our own.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

September 17, 2011

Dr. Jim Somerville: A Christian Way of Being Human

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

On the first Sunday of every month I climb the stairs to Room 243 to teach our newcomers class. My assignment is to talk about “a Christian way of being human,” and I like to begin with an emphasis on the word way.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

August 30, 2011

Dr. Jim Somerville: Surviving the Hurriquake

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

Since my last post I have survived a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that was felt as far north as Boston, and felt the gusting fury of Hurricane Irene, which ripped up a half dozen ancient oaks on my street and left most of the city without power.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

August 26, 2011

Dr. Jim Somerville: Did Jesus Really Walk on Water?

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

What does it mean to say something like Jesus walked on water, and in this story what does it mean to say that Peter did, too? Let’s take a closer look…
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

July 02, 2011

Dr. Jim Somerville: Whatever Happened to Fire and Brimstone?

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

Here’s a piece I wrote several years ago, after a hot summer Sunday when the air conditioner wasn’t working at church. Enjoy!
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

June 27, 2011

Dr. Jim Somerville: "I Hate My Body!"

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

You never know what you might find in a book called Women Who Run with the Wolves, or in a chapter called “Joyous Body: the Wild Flesh,” but I was delighted to find this important corrective to much of what our culture has taught us about our bodies.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

June 18, 2011

Dr. Jim Somerville: Jesus the Atheist

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

Several years ago, my mother-in-law found a handyman to help her around her house in Texas. His name was Jesus (pronounced “hay-soos”), and even though we knew how his name was pronounced it was funny to get a letter from Lu telling us that Jesus had fixed her plumbing or painted the living room.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

June 14, 2011

The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville: The 50-Mile Walk

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

My friend Randy said he wanted to walk 50 miles in one day, that it was something he had wanted to do since he was nine years old, when President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to get fit.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

May 16, 2011

Dr. Jim Somerville: Falling

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

Picture a world where, at birth, you are hurled off a cliff—a really, really high cliff, so that it takes a lifetime to reach the bottom. You would “grow up” on the way down (if you can imagine such a thing) moving through the stages of infancy, childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

April 08, 2011

Dr. Jim Somerville: Must Death Have the Last Word?

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

The earthquake and tsunami in Japan have not only shaken the world, they’ve shaken a lot of people’s faith. “How could a good and loving God allow such a thing to happen?” they ask.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

March 24, 2011

Dr. Jim Somerville: The Jesus Prayer...Abbreviated?

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

Dr. Jim Somerville considers the benefits of praying "The Jesus Prayer" regularly.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

March 16, 2011

Dr. Jim Somerville: Copernican Revolution

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

These were my closing comments on Sunday, February 20, at the end of our DiscipleNow event for youth. The theme of the the weekend was “Center Stage,” and raised the question of how your life might be different if Christ–and not you–occupied center stage.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

February 22, 2011

Dr. Jim Somerville: This Is How We Do It

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

I want to share a story, because it seems like a perfect illustration of how to make peace with someone who has offended you. You don’t talk about that person: you talk to him.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

February 09, 2011

Dr. Jim Somerville: An Unasked Question at Bible Study

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

If exegesis is figuring out what a text meant ‘then and there,’ and hermeneutics is applying that meaning ‘here and now,’ then what was Paul trying to say to the Galatians in this letter and what does this letter say to us now?
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

January 19, 2011

Dr. Jim Somerville: I'm a Believer

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

One of my readers sent in this question recently: Q: How do you know God exists?
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

January 14, 2011

Dr. Jim Somerville: How Do I Get In?

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

One of the stories that came out of my recent trip to India is the one about the groomsman who wanted to get into the family.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

November 22, 2010

Dr. Jim Somerville: Write-in Candidate

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

Yesterday was Christ the King Sunday, and I closed out the sermon with this story about my father.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

November 17, 2010

Dr. Jim Somerville: Revelations at a Preaching Conference

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

I enjoy going to preaching conferences, but the kind of preaching conference I enjoy the most is the kind where someone tells me that the way I’m doing it already is the right way.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

October 29, 2010

Dr. Jim Somerville: Death Is Only a Horizon

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

After conducting a funeral for a dear parishioner, Dr. Jim Somerville reflects on death.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

October 19, 2010

Dr. Jim Somerville: How to Get Over a Midlife Crisis

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

At 51, I’m way past midlife (I doubt that I’m going to make it to 102), but I found some good advice from Peter Drucker that I’d like to pass along.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

October 13, 2010

Dr. Jim Somerville: An Old Joke and the New Jerusalem

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

Thinking about an old joke caused Jim Somerville to remember a passage from the Book of Revelation, where the new Jerusalem comes down out of heaven “adorned as a bride for her husband” (21:3).
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

October 06, 2010

Dr. Jim Somerville: Loving the World God Loves

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

As he walked around a city neighborhood he's adopted, Dr. Jim Somerville suddenly realized the connection between John 3:16 and John 20:21...
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

September 11, 2010

Dr. Jim Somerville: "Hey, Wasn't That You at the Mosque?"

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

Dr. Jim Somerville recently joined other leaders at a local mosque as a show of solidarity. Find out why, and what happened.
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Article

September 02, 2010

Dr. Jim Somerville: Why is my church dying, and what can I do about it?

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

Dr. Jim Somerville, pastor of First Baptist Church, Richmond, VA, shares his new book online: When the Sand Castle Crumbles: Why is my church dying, and what can I do about it?
The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville - Day1 Podcast Extra - 2006

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

In this Day1 Podcast Extra, the Rev. Jim Somerville, pastor of First Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., shares his personal insights and experiences of preaching at the 2006 Festival of Homiletics.

The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Transcript

July 17, 2005

A World Full of Weeds

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville is pastor of First Baptist Church of Washington, D.C., part of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

The Rev. Dr. Jim Somerville Transcript

July 10, 2005

The Reckless Sower

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville (CBF)

The Rev. Dr. James Somerville is pastor of First Baptist Church of Washington, D.C, part of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.