Jim Somerville is pastor of First Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia.
1. Where did you grow up?
I was born in Selma, Alabama, in 1959, but I grew up in rural, poverty-stricken, Boone County, West Virginia.
2. What is your favorite Bible verse, book or story? Why?
Luke 6:36, which I translate as, “You shall be compassionate, as your Father in heaven is compassionate.”
Fred Craddock challenged me years ago to “preach the same sermon every Sunday,” that is, to find one verse that would serve as the megaphone through which all my sermons were preached. Luke 6:36 seems to be at the very heart of Jesus’ life and ministry and I want it to be at the heart of mine, too.
3. What is your favorite movie? Why?
One of my favorite movies is “Amelie.”
The main character begins to figure out how to bring heaven to earth for the people she encounters, and to do it in a secretive, almost mischievous way, which reminds me of Jesus’ command to not let your left hand know what your right one is doing when you give alms.
4. Who are three people you admire?
Fred Craddock, Raymond E. Brown (a Jesuit scholar) and Christy (my wife).
5. What is one little-known fact about you?
I have hypnotized a chicken onstage.