Jim Sommerville on Politics from the Pulpit

Jim Sommerville, Pastor of First Baptist Richmond
Jim Sommerville, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Richmond

On October 16 Jim Sommerville, pastor of Richmond’s First Baptist Church, published a blog post entitled, “My Political Agenda.” He may  as well have called it “My Ethical Agenda” because the thrust of the post is a justification of preaching the ethics of the gospel, acknowledging current ethical issues yet not endorsing any particular political party. This is a pressing issue in our current political environment. What should the role of local pastors be in political debate? How does one distinguish between political commentary and preaching the requirements of the gospel?

I recommend Pastor Sommerville’s blog for any who are concerned about this issue.

Read the post from Jim Sommerville’s blog.

Pastor Sommerville’s blog post was one of the documents discussed in this morning’s class at Binkley. I regret that I was unable to attend that discussion. If you did attend, please feel free to comment here.


Rev. Barber at the 2014 Seymour Symposium at Olin T. Binkley Memorial Baptist Church

The following video was shot at Olin T. Binkley Memorial Baptist Church, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 2014. Rev. Barber was the keynote speaker at Binkley’s Seymour Symposium that year, and the video presents roughly seven minutes from his much more in-depth discussion. Story of America has called this short clip Rev. Dr. Barber’s most compelling seven minutes to date.

Here you can witness a few minutes of well informed expository preaching based on a close reading a biblical text.

What Child Is This?

Enjoy this instrumental version of “What Child Is This?” arranged by Stephanie Jackson.

Class or no class this Sunday

The church newsletter this week lists our class as meeting one more time this Sunday. We ended the class last Sunday, so this was a surprise to me. Still, there may be some who see the note in the newsletter and assume we are meeting, so I will be there at 9:30 for informal conversation with any who choose to come.

Racism, Politics, and the Gospel

Rev. Jim Wallis and Rev. Dr. William J. Barber discuss the intersection of race, politics, and the gospel in this short film from Fusion Films.

William Barber, the Seymour Symposium, and Prophetic Ministry

Rev. Barber with protesters
Rev. Dr. William Barber leads protestors into the North Carolina General Assembly to bear moral witness against policies passed by Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger and signed by Gov. Patrick McCrory. (Photo Credit: Phil Fonville)

Tomorrow morning, Sunday, December 3 will be our last class for the Fall 2017 season.

We will watch two short video clips, a little more than 7 minutes each. They both show Dr. Barber, the architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement. In the first he addresses the history of voting rights in America. The second clip shows him speaking at Binkley’s Seymour Symposium.

The website StoryOfAmerica.org  has called this second clip “Rev. Barber’s most compelling 7 minutes so far.”

We will discuss the role that prophetic ministry might play at Binkley in the years to come.

You can see the News and Observer‘s article about our most recent Seymour Symposium here.

Forward Together Page

Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017

This Sunday we will view the final segment of the documentary, “Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot.” Here are a few questions to consider while you view the documentary:

  1. Why were ministers from all over the country in Selma? What risks did they take?
  2. What happened to Rev. James Reeb?
  3. What was the significance of the barricade around the George Washington Carver Homes?
  4. Why was President Johnson’s use of the phrase “we shall overcome” meaningful to marchers?
  5. What was the immediate effect of the passage of the Voting Rights Act?


Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot (Part Two)

March 30, 1965: Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968) and his wife Coretta Scott King lead a voting rights march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery. (Photo by William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images)

On Sunday, November 12, we will continue viewing the documentary, “Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot”. We saw the first twelve minutes last Sunday, and used the rest of the class time to discuss what we had seen and talk about the involvement of some of our classmates in the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s.

Tomorrow we will see how Martin Luther King, Jr. became involved in the struggle for voting rights in Selma. Here are a few questions we will consider as we watch the documentary:

  1. What brought Dr. King to Selma?
  2. Demonstrators marched to the courthouse every day during the early part of the voting rights campaign. Why did they do that?
  3. Teachers from the local black school joined the protests. Why was this significant, and what risks did they take?
  4. How did the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson affect the campaign?
  5. What happened in Selma after Bloody Sunday made national news?
  6. What evidence did you notice in the documentary of the role faith played in the developing campaign in Selma?
  7. What does that evidence show about the faith of the participants?

Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot

Abernathy Children on the Front Line of the Selma to Montgomery March

On Sunday, November 5, 2017 we will begin viewing the documentary, “Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot”. We will watch the first twelve minutes, then have time for discussion and reflection.

The documentary is produced by Teaching Tolerance, an Alabama based organization that produces educational materials supporting respect for diversity.

As we view this first segment of the documentary we will consider the connection between churches and the early days of the civil rights struggle against Jim Crow. The documentary does not focus on this. We will need to pick up on clues in the documentary that suggest the roll churches played.

I look forward to seeing you at Binkley.