We hope you always feel welcome when you enter the doors of First Baptist Church. Our staff are here to support your needs and to help you grow in your faith. Do not hesitate to reach out to anyone on staff. If you have a family emergency the staff needs to be aware of, please call the church office at (804) 355-8637.
Dr. Jim Somerville is the Senior Pastor of Richmond’s First Baptist Church. He believes that if we look around us for anything that doesn’t look like heaven, and then roll up our sleeves and get to work, we can actually bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia. You’ll find Jim in the pulpit on Sunday morning, and in the fellowship hall on Wednesday nights, but at other times you may find him roaming the hallways or out in the city looking for ways to connect. He is always grateful for this large, loving congregation where everyone is made to feel welcome.
Jim and his wife Christy have two adult daughters, one son-in-law, and two grandchildren, all of whom live in Richmond. Jim has deep roots in Virginia, going back six generations in Culpeper County. He is a graduate of the Phillips Exeter Academy, Georgetown College (Kentucky), and Southern Seminary. Before coming to Richmond he was Pastor of First Baptist Church, Washington, DC. Jim loves the outdoors, and on his day off you may find him hiking the Buttermilk Trail or sailing on the Rappahannock River. When he was growing up, his five brothers sometimes thought of him as “the funny one.” Sometimes he still is.
See Jim’s Blog.
Lynn Turner is the Senior Associate Pastor and the Minister of Christian Community. Lynn served as the youth minister from 1988 to 2008 and has served as Senior Associate Pastor and Minister of Community since 2008. She coordinates food service, building office staff, pastoral care, the prayer ministry, the women’s ministry, parish health and weddings.
Lynn has a BS in education from Francis Marion University in South Carolina, an MS in Counseling from the University of Tennessee, and MARE from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas. Prior to coming to Richmond, she taught school, served as a guidance counselor in South Carolina and Texas, and was on staff at Gambrell Street Baptist Church in Fort Worth Texas.
She contributed to the book, Youth Ministry from the Ground Up, by Ken Dibble.
Robert serves as the Minister of Pastoral Care. A native of Portsmouth, Va. he has served in Virginia his entire full-time ministry. He has been privileged to serve with the First Baptist Church of Annandale, the Corrottoman Baptist Church, the Woodland Heights Baptist Church and the First Baptist Church of Ashland where he retired in 2012 after twenty years in Ashland.
He is married to Kathy Hales Thompson since 1979. Kathy touches all of FBC life: Sunday School teacher, Bible study teacher, choir member, children’s music, handbell choir and heads the Women’s Ministry. They have two sons, Matthew and Christopher and six wonderful grandchildren, Peyton, Cavern, Ben, Caitlyn, Lane and Austin.
Dr. Philip L. Mitchell came to First Baptist Church as Minister of Music in 2001. His role has since changed and expanded to incorporate a broader spectrum of ministry, under the title, of Associate Pastor for Christian Worship.
He is a native of Nashville, TN. Phil holds a Bachelor of Music from Belmont University in Nashville, a Master of Church Music in conducting from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, and a Doctor of Ministry in Contextual Leadership from the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. Prior to joining the staff, Phil served Ardmore Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC; First Baptist Church, Bowling Green, KY; and Mountain Brook Baptist Church, Birmingham, AL.
Phil has numerous handbell, choral, and congregational compositions in print with various publishers. He has written devotional materials published by Smyth and Helwys. He authored, “100 Music Ministry Ideas” published by Hal Leonard Publications, and has written extensively regarding worship, worship leadership, choral techniques, and liturgies.
He and his wife, Libby, have two children, Erin and Austin, a grandson, Preston, and a granddaughter, Caroline.
Steve Blanchard serves as Associate Pastor for Compassion at First Baptist. This area of life and ministry simply focuses on using where we are in life to help meet others where they are, as they are. He has overseen the growth of the Compassion Ministry into more than 30 different ministries that reach out to the City of Richmond, and throughout the United States and in more than 15 countries. Some of these include a shower ministry for the homeless, a mobile ministry that ministers to people on the street, community partnerships with other churches and agencies, and international partnerships with churches on five continents.
Steve is a graduate of Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, Georgia where he received a B.A. in Pastoral Ministries. He has a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary and a Master of Arts in Christian Education from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education. Prior to joining the staff of First Baptist in 1997, Steve was Director of Youth and Children at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Danville, Virginia (1989-1993), and the Director of Christian Education at First United Methodist Church in Siler City, NC (1986-1988). He has also served part-time with congregations in Athens, Georgia; Ashland, Virginia and Ruther Glen, Virginia.
Steve is a native of Siler City, North Carolina. He loves football, basketball, and many other sports, especially when the Duke Blue Devils have a team involved. Steve and his wife, Susan, have two daughters, Molly and Menley, who are on top of his list of greatest joys and passions.
Deaf Mission at Richmond is a mission under Richmond’s First Baptist Church. Reverend Dirk Hill of Texas was voted in as the new Pastor in January of 2019, succeeding Buddy Burgess. Dirk and his family moved to Richmond in June. Dirk is married to Laura and they have two children, Dakota and Lexi. We are excited about having the Hill Family here at Deaf Mission.
Dr. Allison Collier serves as Associate Pastor of Christian Formation. She believes we are called to continually grow as disciples and live out our faith, reaching out to share our gifts and knowledge with the world around us in practical and relational ways. At First Baptist, you will notice Allison finding creative ways to integrate faith and community involvement, encouraging the entire family to grow and serve together. Allison loves the way every member has a voice and finds joy in helping members connect their gifts with God’s calling for their life.
Allison is the wife of Jared and mother of two sons, Josiah and Liam. She is a native of North Carolina and holds 3 degrees from Campbell University including her Bachelor, Master, and Doctor of Divinity, making her a rare “3 hump camel!” Prior to joining First Baptist, Allison was ordained and served 16 years in a rural NC church and enjoyed various positions on boards with Campbell Divinity and Baptist Women in Ministry of NC where she mentored and championed women in ministry roles throughout the state. Her passions include traveling with her family, cheering for Duke Basketball and the Atlanta Braves, and decorating multiple Christmas trees each year!
Reverend Matthew Hensley serves as Associate Pastor of Christian Invitation. He is passionate about connecting everyone to a Christian community so that their relationship with God and their service to others finds purpose. At Richmond’s First Baptist, you will find Matthew eager to know you, whether you are brand new to church, anxious about getting involved in a new community, or are one of our neighbors in Richmond’s Museum District. Matthew loves how the members of First Baptist really seek out ways for everyone to get a taste of God’s kingdom here on earth.
Matthew is the husband of Beth and father of Jack, Reese, and Haley. He was born and raised in South Carolina, is an alumnus of the University of South Carolina, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, and is currently working toward a Doctor of Ministry degree at Fuller Theological Seminary. Prior to joining the staff at First Baptist, he served on church staffs in northern Virginia and Richmond. Matthew loves running, reading, cooking, and is certain that when people say Carolina, they are referring to the Gamecocks.
Amanda has a passion for helping children grow to love God and follow Jesus on all the days, not just the “church days.” She cares very much about all the pieces of forming a child’s faith: the grown ups who spend the most time with their children (parents, grandparents, chosen family), the spaces outside church (school, extracurricular activities), the church curriculum (worship, formal learning spaces like Sunday School or Music and Missions, informal learning spaces like the playground and mission on the go and the gym, and activities like VBS and camp), and the people who share the joy of forming (teachers, other worshipers, and the people in the hallway!).
Reverend Chris Wondree serves as the Minister to Students and Families. He is passionate about following the example of the Holy Spirit, through walking alongside students and their families as they celebrate, grieve, grow, run, and sometimes crawl through all that life can bring. At Richmond's First Baptist, you will find Chris looking to laugh with and listen to folks of all ages. He is excited to see all the ways the members at First Baptist work to build bridges so that everyone's voice is heard and valued as a person who was made in God's image.
Chris is the husband of Lacey and the father of Bennett, Ella Cate & Micah (twins). He was born and raised in Fredericksburg, VA (which is NOT considered NOVA), earned a B.S. in Biology from Shenandoah University, and a Masters of Divinity from Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. Prior to joining the staff at Richmond's First Baptist, he served on church staffs, as campus minister at James Madison University, and as a coach to several travel & high school soccer teams. He is convinced that "futbal" is the only real "football" and when he isn't trying to convince people why, he loves rooting for Arsenal, the Orioles, Duke Basketball, the Commanders, and the Dolphins.
Donna Earley serves as the Director of Stewardship and Development. She is passionate about creating a culture of joyful generosity as a part of our discipleship. At Richmond’s First Baptist Church, you will find Donna telling stories of our ministry’s impact and asking our congregation what passions stir their hearts. Donna loves how the family of First Baptist is committed to serving and loving those in need.
Donna is the wife of Brad and the mom to Mary Sage and Sarah. Donna and Brad were married in the Chapel of First Baptist and have raised their girls at First Baptist. Donna received her undergraduate degree in Marketing from Virginia Tech and her MBA from the University of Richmond. Donna loves reading and visiting the beautiful national parks. As an Enneagram 2 (The Helper) I struggle with boundaries and I am compelled to help people that don’t need my help!
Allen joined the church staff in June of 2002 as the Technical Services Director, but his association with Richmond’s First Baptist goes back much further. He became a member of the church in August of 1980 and has been involved in many aspects of church life ever since. In 1985 his new bride, Hope, joined him and in the ensuing years four daughters have entered the picture and grown up here at First Baptist. From 1980 to 1995 Allen’s father, Dr. Philip L. Cumbia, was the Associate Minister to Senior Adults here, and he and his wife, Maxwell, were married in 1953 in the old church chapel, which is now the church library.
Allen enjoys the challenges associated with keeping our television broadcasts and live web streaming going week in and week out and he feels honored to work with a very talented and dedicated team of people as we offer our church’s unique message in a digital format in Richmond and beyond. Allen considers it a privilege to have participated in a variety of mission endeavors around the world in association with First Baptist, and has documented several of these trips in video format.
In his spare time Allen has a variety of interests that range from gardening, bicycling, canoeing, camping and hiking, beekeeping, raising chickens, reading, is an avid birdwatcher and enjoys spending time with his family.
Leigh Farmer serves as the Communications Coordinator for the church. She is passionate about the church’s mission of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to RVA. There are endless stories to tell about the impact of the church on the Richmond community and Leigh looks forward to telling each one. At First Baptist, you will find her with a notebook and cell phone in hand, ready to capture the best moments of fellowship and worship. If you ever have a story to share about how the church has impacted your life, don’t hesitate to reach out!
Leigh is responsible for managing all our church communication including the weekly newsletter, social media, press releases, and church website. She has extensive communication experience in news media, non-profit communication, and public relations. Leigh is married to Josh and is a mom to Evelyn. A proud graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, she is happy to be working back in the neighborhood where she studied and lived during her collegiate years.
Ruth joined First Baptist in 1987 and began singing in the church choir, playing bells in the bell choir, and helping in children’s choirs. Ruth joined the staff in 2000 coordinating and directing the children’s choirs, the handbell choirs, and assisting with the girl’s ensemble, youth choir, church choir and One Accord. She leads the music in worship in the absence of the Associate Pastor for Christian Worship. Ruth has just recently joined the preschool staff as the music teacher.
Ruth received the Choristers Guild Institute Certification in 2013.
Ruth is a native of Charlottesville, VA. She graduated from James Madison University in 1985 with a BS, double majoring in Learning Disabled and Emotionally Disturbed Education with a minor in music. Ruth taught school in Chesterfield County for eight years.
Ruth is married to Richard Szucs and they have two children, Alexandra and Matthew.
Michael Lacy was born in Savannah, GA, but because of his parent’s military career, he spent most of his youth and early adulthood living in various states and countries. He spent four years in the United States Marine Corp and then worked for the government as a civilian, as a youth counselor, a department store manager and most recently for a small family owned business. He is married to Shawnae, and they have two boys, Darius and Justin and are in the process of adopting two more children, Tia and Leo. Michael was ordained as a deacon at First Baptist in January 2015 and has volunteered with the Youth Ministry as a teacher and a leader since joining the church in 2010. During football season, you will find him and little Leo cheering on their favorite team, the Washington Redskins.
Tim is a Richmond native having grown up in the Derbyshire congregational family. He graduated from Christopher Newport University (CNU) in 2011, and in 2013, he married his college sweetheart, Mary Margaret. Their children are Anna Beth, Teddy, Virginia, and a few who are with the Lord. He joins the First Baptist Church staff after spending seven years as a chef at Rockbridge Alum Springs, a Young Life camp near Lexington, VA, having previously been a Kitchen Manager for Chick-fil-a in the greater Charlotte, NC area. They are excited to be in Richmond where they can experience everything the city has to offer and be close to Tim‘s family.
Emma Tilley serves as Compassion Ministry Associate. At First Baptist, you will find Emma serving in weekly Community Missions, coordinating the Charlotte Acres farm team, and leading young adult small group. She sees the Church as a powerful force for uniting people together to work towards the flourishing of the community and a space for being formed in Jesus’ vision for the kingdom. Emma grew up at First Baptist Church and is honored to serve on staff and give back to the community that encouraged her to start her ministry journey. She studied Religious Studies and Art at William and Mary and received a Masters of Divinity from Duke Divinity School in 2020 with a certificate in Baptist Studies and Theology & Art. Emma loves ceramics, trying new art mediums, and soup recipes, taking photos of plants, and spending time with her sisters.
Eunice Kim has served for 22 years at First Baptist, and she says, “it’s been an amazing honor and blessing for me to be a pianist at FBC. My husband John and I have two sons, Jonathan and Joshua. I run Pink Belle Cake House and Eunice’s Piano store. I love to bake and decorate cakes, and of course teaching piano as well.”
Cheryl Van Ornam
Cheryl Van Ornam
Cheryl Van Ornam is humbled and honored to be the Organist at First Baptist Church. She says, “It’s a special privilege to be a part of the vibrant worship experience at First Baptist.” Her masters degree is in Organ Performance and Church Music from Northwestern University, with undergraduate degrees in Piano Performance and Piano Pedagogy. She also teaches piano privately. After living in various parts of America and in Kenya, she moved to Richmond with her husband, whose relatives settled in Hanover County eight generations ago. They have two married children and three young grandchildren. Music Ministry for church is an exciting opportunity to help fulfill the Gospel Commission of Matthew 28: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” Soli Deo Gloria.
Alex Hamp serves as the Week Day Preschool Director. She is passionate about nurturing children, helping parents navigate early childhood, and supporting the teaching staff.
A Richmond native, Alex graduated from James Madison University and taught kindergarten at William Fox Elementary. The Fan connection brought her to First Baptist Preschool in 2003, first as a mother and then as a teacher. In 2014 she became Director of the Week Day program. Alex is wife to Dave and mother to four: Madeline, Ellie, Brooke, and Scott. She enjoys traveling, reading, attending her son’s sporting events, and dining out at the many fabulous Richmond restaurants.