By Jeff Cooper
On June 26th during the AME Church’s Annual Council of Bishops and General Board Meeting Worship Service at the Birmingham-Jefferson County Convention Center in Birmingham, Alabama, the Right Reverend Adam Jefferson Richardson, Jr. was installed as the Senior Bishop of the AME Church.
The Senior Bishop is the active Bishop with the longest tenure of service in the AME Church and is first in order of precedence among the Council of Bishops. The position occupies a key role in the polity and practice of the AME Church. While a Senior Bishop has existed since the incorporation of the church as a denomination in 1816, the first formal investiture ceremony occurred at the 2004 General Conference. The ceremony includes the passage of the Senior Bishop’s regalia-a solid gold medallion with the logo of the denomination donated by the family of Claude Stephens.
During his investiture, Senior Bishop Richardson commented, “I am honored for service at this time in the history of our church I seek an interest in your prayers that I may rise to the occasion, that inadequacies may not be too glaring. Whatever successes, whatever achievements, the credit, the glory will belong to God in Christ.”
Bishop Richardson succeeds the Right Reverend McKinley Young who died in January 2019. He was elected and consecrated the 115th Bishop at the 1996 General Conference.
With service in pulpits throughout Georgia and Florida, the last church he pastored prior to his election was Bethel AME Church in Tallahassee, Florida where he served for 18 years. He obtained the Bachelor of Arts degree from the Florida A&M University (where he was noted as the head drum major of the “Marching 100” Band). He received his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Sacred Theology degrees at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
As a Bishop, he has served churches in Sierra Leone, Ghana Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Togo and Benin (14th District), the Republic of South Africa (19th District), Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and Washington, DC (2nd District) and currently Florida and the Bahamas Islands (11thDistrict). Within he has served as chair of the Health Commission, Lay, Commission on Seminaries, Colleges and Schools and as President of the Council of Bishops.
He has represented the AME Church in a number of Ecumenical bodies including the World Methodist Council and the National Congress of Black Churches. He is also a prolific author with articles or chapters in several books including the African American Devotional Bible and Headlines to Homilies.
Bishop Richardson will serve as Senior Bishop until his retirement in 2024. Reflecting on his time as a FAMU drum major he said, “There are quite a few steps (literally and figuratively) between the Patch (the practice field) and Senior Bishop!”
He and his wife Dr. Connie Speights Richardson are proud parents of two adult children Monique (a Leon County Judge) and Trey (a certified hospital radiographer and professional saxophone player).
Founded in 1787 by Richard Allen, the African Methodist Episcopal Church is the world’s oldest denomination founded by African-Americans. It has over 2 million members in 40 countries on five continents. For more information visit www.ame-church.com.