Apr 27, 2010

Candidate James Coleman

by Abby Armbruster


James E. Coleman places emphasis on community service, not only as something he should do, but also as something God places on his heart. Coleman is a pastor of Baptist Providence Ministries International and the director of Providence Development Corporation.  

For inspiration, Coleman turns to the words of Martin Luther King Jr., who coined the phrase, “He who is greatest amongst you is a servant,” which also follows the same message as Coleman’s life verse in Mark 10:45. a

“Community service is what we’re called to do,” Coleman said.

In 2009, he was recognized by the Lynchburg Police Department for the annual Citizen Award.  He has volunteered with the Salvation Army, Playhouse Day Care, the Churches United for Service, food banks around Lynchburg, and also worked with the police department for a gun surrender program and schools in order to show students how local government works.  

“These are things I have been doing for 16 years,” Coleman said.

Coleman worked for Gov. Gerald Baliles (Democratic governor from 1986-1990), as a part of the Virginia government, and is now a member of the Lynchburg Board of BB&T and has spoken at the Pentagon.  Also, Coleman served as a chaplain for the Lynchburg Sheriff’s Department. 

“I ran for (city) council in 2006,” Coleman said. “I have learned a lot since then, (such as) people desperately need to know that someone cares about them.”

He was invited on a Liberty University expedition to Turkey and Greece in 2005.

In addition to being a pastor, he is also the director of the Doctor of Ministry program at the Virginia University of Lynchburg. 

After receiving his bachelor’s degree from James Madison University in 1988, Coleman continued his education with a master’s of divinity degree from Virginia Union University in 1991, and a master’s degree in theology from Duke University in 2001. 

In his free time, Coleman enjoys traveling, reading books, watching basketball, sharing the Good News of the Bible and conversation.  

Coleman, calling Virginia his home for all 44 years of his life and Lynchburg for the past 16, has four children ranging from ages 17 to 3 years old. Coleman has been married to his wife, Patricia, since 1991.

Coleman can be seen on television each Sunday morning, as his Providence Ministries International service entitled “Good News for Today” is broadcast weekly.

Contact Abby Armbruster at aarmbruster@liberty.edu.

Q and A with Coleman



On improving the roads

This is why I believe that Lynchburg needs an agent of positive change on city council such as James E. Coleman Jr. As a councilman, I will work hard with our city planner and other appropriate city staff/project managers that will aid in carrying out the CIP allocations for a pedestrian-activated crosswalk at the Sams Club entrance with a safe holding area middle way.  This first phase will cost $1 million. I will also fight for continued phased development along Wards Road beyond my first year. I will further support the midtown improvements that will help the general areas mentioned for safety and accessibility. 


On how many unrelated people may live in a single dwelling or share a single bedroom

Councilman Joe Seiffert suggested the current rule.  Maybe the current number could be reassessed with some serious dialogue between city property owners, neighborhood watch groups, etc.   I would set up an advisory committee to explore ways that both groups could mutually benefit.  


On marriage

I believe that the biblical model for marriage is between a man and a woman. This is also my personal belief. I do not see civil unions in the bible. Moreover, I am pro-life. These are my beliefs.


On his relationship with Liberty

In October of 1994, the first request to do ministry as a local pastor in Lynchburg was extended by Promise Keepers. This began my personal relationship with the late Dr. Jerry Falwell and through him the Liberty University family.  Subsequently, my wife was hired as a teacher at LCA and later became a technology department head. My daughter, who has been accepted and desires to attend Liberty University in the fall, served as a varsity cheerleader with LCA.  As a member of city council, I will treat the Liberty University family with the utmost respect as I would with any other business partner with the city. As Liberty or any of our local colleges grow, so grows the City of Lynchburg.


On campaign funding 

I have been supported with contributions from citizens from every ward across the city. My bipartisan support suggests a strong independent candidacy. I am the only candidate that is running in his early 40s who has billboards representing his or her campaign that is not on billboards promoting a ticket of three. There is nothing wrong with tickets, but I trust that you can see that I am not in anyone’s political or geographical camp. This allows me to be available to reach out across the city, listen and represent all of the 72,000-plus citizens of Lynchburg.


On how long he’s been in Lynchburg

I am a native of Richmond, Va., and I have been a resident of Lynchburg for 16 uninterrupted years. My wife and I love Lynchburg. We have chosen to rear our children here and enjoy the family friendly environment that the city provides. All of these experiences have impacted us positively to learn the wonderful character of the community and to reach out to build lifelong relationships with the residents of a place we call home.


On building community

This is what I have been doing across the four wards of the city since I arrived. I have volunteered my time and resources to make Lynchburg a better place to live. I participated with Dr. Falwell in a restoration jubilee prison initiative, healing the heart of Virginia at the 9/11 D-Day Memorial. I have led community-based initiatives in collaboration with the Lynchburg Police department to get guns off the streets, mentored youth to continue their education through the YMCA, as well as serving as the chaplain of the Sheriff’s Department. I received the 2009 Lynchburg Police Department Citizen Award.  On council, I will continue these community building efforts.


On Liberty’s CUP status

I understand that the current zoning ordinance has the effect of law and the intent of Liberty  University is to have the ordinance revert to its pre-1991 condition. If it is beneficial to both the City of Lynchburg and Liberty University, then I will support the reversion. The city should want to work with every organization that has the best interest of Lynchburg in mind. Liberty’s location in an industrial/commercial district should warrant relief from the CUP or proposed overlay requirements.


On long-term plans for Lynchburg and Liberty

I have no plan that would negatively impact Liberty in Lynchburg. I will foster a greater relationship between Wards I-IV in developing mutually beneficial outcomes. I intend to increase dialogue with the Liberty Commuter Affairs Office, city planning and other appropriate university officials in developing an economic strategy beneficial to Liberty University that will continue to positively impact Lynchburg. With this and other growing partnerships, Lynchburg by 2020 will be the number one city for business in our region.


On his party affiliation choice

As mentioned earlier, I am an Independent candidate for city council. The needs of Lynchburg at the local level are greater than partisan politics. My leadership is not restricted to any specific group but designed to reach out to bring everybody together to meet the common needs of the total community.


On priorities for spending

First, infrastructure (roads and water ways) because we are one of Virginia’s first cities and our waterlines are over 100 years old in some areas. Second, continuing to invest in youth services. Third, invest city dollars (Office of Economic Development) to attract businesses and keep them in our community.


On moving the Ward III-4 polling place

I would not be opposed to an additional voting place. In other words, I do not think it is helpful to move the current voting precinct but would support having an additional voting place that was centrally located to give the students of Liberty a safe place to vote.


On carrying out campaign promises

By keeping issues before council and getting fellow council members to deal honestly and fairly with all issues.  As a councilman, I will keep the issues before council that will move our city forward. This would include issues that relate to Liberty University. I will follow through on my intentions to work to bring the city together and keep the tax rate as low as possible without compromising essential services such as education, public safety and job creation/economic development. This will be done by my efforts to establish citizen advisory councils on issues that will meet periodically throughout the year. Remember, Coleman cares.




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