Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson
Chairman of the Board
The Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson was born on June 14, 1949, in Philadelphia to William and Amanda Richardson. The Richardson family, like many other African American families , was anchored in the church during the pivotal 1950’s. As a youngster growing up in one of the nation’s major cities, the young man who would grow to national prominence as a religious leader and activist, received his early education in the public schools of Philadelphia. He graduated from West Philadelphia High School in 1966 and enrolled in the Community College of Philadelphia.
Rev. Richardson surrendered to God’s call to ministry early in life and on May 28, 1967, he preached his first sermon at the Community Baptist Church in Philadelphia were he was issued a license to preach. After attempting to follow his dreams, Dr. Richardson came to the humbling conclusion that maybe college life was not for him when he received less than exemplary grades in his first year. However, as Rev. Richardson often times recounts. “God was not through with him yet.” With the advice of his pastor and mentor, the Reverend James B. Hamlin, Dr. Richardson enrolled in Virginia Union University in Richmond and his life’s path was forever changed. At Virginia Union, Rev. Richardson received close academic and moral guidance that set him on the road to life-long service and development.
While at Virginia Union, Dr. Richardson was elected president of his freshman and sophomore classes, president of the Council of Religion and he was inducted into the national service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. At the age of 19 W. Franklyn Richardson became the full-time pastor of two churches in Richmond. He served as the spiritual head of Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church and St. James Baptist Church. Later he earned a B.A. degree with honors from Virginia Union and in l97l wed his college sweetheart, Inez Nunnally, who is also a Virginia Union graduate. He served as pastor of both Rising Mount Zion and St. James Baptist Churches for six years until 1974. He became Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in April of I 975. Rev. Dr. Richardson earned masters and doctorate degrees in theology from Yale University School of Divinity in New Haven, CT and the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH, respectively.
Rev. Dr. Richardson serves on the board of several corporations and national organizations and was the youngest person to serve as General Secretary of The National Baptist Convention, USA Inc. As Pastor of the historic Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, NY, Dr. Richardson leads the largest African American church in Westchester County, New York. He continues to guide and administer to the spiritual needs of Grace’s more than 3,000 parishioners. Dr. Richardson has been able to succeed in this effort by developing and retaining a progressive and professional staff. At Grace, Pastor Richardson established “Windows of Grace” the church’s TV ministry, which broadcasts on The Word Network and MBC in much of the country. Under his leadership, Grace Baptist Church has become involved in many community programs. The church ministers to persons in prisons, visits and ministers to the sick and shut-in, has established relationships with senior citizens, the homeless and others. Dr. Richardson has been an advocate and provider of support for persons with problems such as alcohol or drug addictions and AIDS.
In the span of Pastor Richardson’s tenure, Grace Baptist Church has evolved into one of the most progressive religious centers in the nation. Rev. Richardson has instituted a congregational philosophy that recognizes the importance and historic role of women in the church and has re-emphasized the significance of stewardship within the Christian experience. Pastor Richardson has ordained several ministers and hosts of deacons, including the first female minister from the Grace family and the first female Chairperson of the Deacon ministry.
Reverend Richardson has become a renowned leader and preacher who has traveled to Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America. Despite interaction with U.S. Presidents, and heads of states he has made sure that he uses the power of the pulpit to uplift and support local issues in Mount Vernon. Throughout the past decade he has been an advocate of community empowerment and as a leader and founder of the Coalition for the Empowerment of People of African Ancestry, Rev. Richardson was able to galvanize Mount Vernon residents’ to elect Westchester County’s first predominately African American School Board in 1997.
Rev. Richardson has continued to be sustained and balanced by his loving family. Rev. Richardson and Mrs. Inez Richardson are the proud parents of two adult children, a daughter, Orchid Richardson-Burnside, and a son, Minister W. Franklyn Richardson, III. Dr. Richardson believes that Grace must be at the vanguard of liberation and empowerment of African American people through our Christian faith.