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the Rev. Dr. James Green Somerville

Associate Pastor

the Rev. Deborah Cochran


about 70

Service Length

1 hour

Sample Worshipper Dress

blue pinstripe suit, lime-green-and-blue tie, giant golden cross, corsage

Origins of Famous Rocks in Church Walls

Hiroshima, Berlin, Hamburg

Classy Torn Edges on bulletin


Congregational Fervor

Though chatty on their way in, First Baptist attendees were rather reserved as a recent service commenced. Such uninspired hymns as “All Our Hope on God Is Founded” did little to boost the congregation’s spirits, and all that talk of circumcision in Ephesians 2:11–22 didn’t help, either.HHHHH

Food for the Soul

Although his sermon, “Jesus: Construction and Demolition Expert,” was eloquent and well-conceived, fill-in speaker Rob Marus nervously delivered the speech with a haste and anxiety not seen since the days of the Micro Machines man. “I am not a pastor, just a simple person,” he told the congregation. “Listen for what word God might have that somehow gets past my ability to speak it.” HHHHH

Food for the Body

Once the service ends, First Baptist regulars are basically on their own. Visitors, however, are invited to attend a “special coffee-hour prepared in their honor” in the church’s luxurious parlor, where rich and full-bodied coffee is served in elegant china. HHHHH

Overall Worship Power

The First Baptist congregation displays an admirable amount of economic diversity, so much so that one could easily mistake its coffee hour for a scene from a Luis Buñuel film. Among the ample and lavish parlor furnishings, a visitor can both shake hands with the former Liberian ambassador and observe a fellow in tattered man-capris passed out next to the armoire. HHHHH

—Aaron Leitko