Dr. Peter James Flamming
Pastor, BA 1955
Peter James Flamming was born February 3, 1934, in a farmhouse eight miles from the small town of Burlington, Colorado, to Peter and Elsie Flamming. Jim began school in Flagstaff, Arizona, where his father was the pastor of the Baptist church. The family eventually moved to Oxnard, California, where Jim was chosen as the outstanding athlete at Oxnard High School. This enabled him to earn a football scholarship to Hardin-Simmons University in 1951.
While at HSU, Jim lettered in football for three years, was president of the senior class, named to the “Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities,” was included in Alpha Chi, the national collegiate honor society, serving as its president, and graduated summa cum laude as second in his class.
During his sophomore year, Jim laid aside his music major to become a minister, changing his major to history with minors in English and psychology. He studied under Dr. Rupert N. Richardson, Drs. Hoyt and Lena Ford, and Dr. Lindell Harris, the newly chosen chairman of the Bible and religion department, finding great encouragement under their influence.
Also while a student, Jim met Shirley Northcutt, the daughter of the former pastor of First Baptist Church in Abilene. They were married in 1955, shortly after Jim’s graduation.
The newlyweds began their ministry in Eastland, Texas, at Bethel Baptist Church, which has recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. While serving at Bethel, Jim earned the bachelor of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth in 1959, and later earned his doctor of theology degree in 1963, specializing in New Testament.
After serving as the director of the Baptist Student Union and as a Bible teacher at Texas Women’s University in Denton, Jim became associate pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church and then Royal Lane Baptist Church in Dallas, respectively, before accepting the pastorate of the First Baptist Church of Abilene in 1966. Jim remained as pastor of FBC Abilene for 17 years, serving also on the Board of Trustees for HSU and for Hendrick Medical Center, and as chairman of the executive committee for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, preaching the annual convention sermon in 1972. Elected as a vice president of the BGCT, Jim also served as a member of the Foreign Mission Board, and as chaplain of the HSU Alumni Association. Locally, he served two terms as moderator of the Abilene Baptist Association.
In 1983, the Flammings were called to First Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia. Founded in 1780 during the Revolutionary War, it remains a vibrant historical inner-city church. While in Richmond, Jim honed his leadership skills under the tutelage of Peter Drucker, often thought of as the dean of leadership and management in America. After serving the congregation and community of Richmond for over 23 years, Jim retired as pastor of First Baptist Church of Richmond on December 31, 2006.
In addition to his denominational activities, such as serving on the Board of Trustees for Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and the Baptist World Alliance General Council, preaching for the Baptist Hour on radio and television, and becoming an adjunct professor of preaching at Richmond Baptist Seminary, Jim also has published books and articles. His books include The New You, God and Creation, Poking Holes in the Darkness and Other Sermons You Can’t Sleep Through. He assisted Peter Drucker in The Non-Profit Drucker, and has written articles for Sunday school curriculum and The Baptist Standard, Baptist Student, Upward, Southwestern Journal of Theology, and Pulpit Digest.
Jim also has served as a guest preacher on numerous occasions, including revivals, lecture series, student weeks, Holy Week services, and for the East African Crusade in Kenya and Tanzania. In 2003, Jim was invited to preach the sermon for the state of Virginia at the National Cathedral, giving it the second largest attendance for a state Sunday. The invitation to preach was itself an honor, as Jim is a non-Episcopalian minister.
Jim has long been recognized as an exceptional man of integrity. In 1981, Jim was named as one of the ten most influential leaders in Abilene, the only clergyman chosen. His other awards include an honorary doctorate from HSU, the Distinguished Alumni Award, also from HSU, the W.T. Conner Award as Outstanding Student in the School of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and was recognized as one of the “Outstanding Young Men in America.” He was the 2001 recipient of the Humanitarian Award presented by the National Conference for Community and Justice, and the 2006 recipient of the Good Shepherd Emblem presented by the Heart of Virginia Council of Boy Scouts of America. This last award has special meaning for Jim, since he received the God and Country merit badge when he himself was a Boy Scout. As a citizen of Richmond, VA, he was recognized as “the most inspirational clergyman in Richmond,” and was chosen as one of the city’s hundred most influential leaders of the 20th century.
As well as giving their devotion to ministry state-side, Jim and his wife, Shirley, dedicate time to the mission field, giving part of their vacation time each year to service in such places Kenya, Tanzania, Brazil, Spain, Costa Rica, China, Hong Kong, Austria, and England.
Jim also enjoys civic service, sitting on the Century II Committee in Abilene, the Board of Directors for the Abilene YMCA, the Abilene Housing Authority, the Abilene Boys Club, and participating in “The Club,” a literary interest group of men and women in Richmond, Virginia, formed in 1885. His hobbies include gardening, playing the piano, photography, flying, and golf.
He and Shirley are the parents of three children: J.D., Dave (who passed away in 1991 of leukemia), and Doug, with one of their greatest joys in life being their eight grandchildren.
Upon being notified of his induction into the Hall of Leaders, Jim sent HSU this statement, “Upon leaving home from Oxnard, California, to attend Hardin-Simmons University, his mother handed him this verse from Philippians 1:6: ‘Being confident of this, that He who has begun a good work in you will continue until the day of Christ Jesus.’ He is honored to accept this honor from Hardin-Simmons on this day, from a school he dearly loves.”
It is the high honor of Hardin-Simmons University to recognize one of her own and to formally induct Peter James Flamming into the HSU Hall of Leaders.