W. Franklyn Richardson is Senior Pastor of the historic Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York. He has been the head of this vibrant, diverse, multi-staffed ministry since April, 1975. Under his leadership, the congregation has continually thrived, growing to include more than 4000 members, as well as a second church in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Dr. Richardson began his career in 1969, serving as pastor of Rising Mt. Zion Baptist Church, located in Richmond, Virginia, and then St. James Baptist Church in Varina, Virginia, prior to taking the helm at Grace Baptist. A graduate of Virginia Union University, Dr. Richardson received his Divinity degree from Yale University Divinity School and his Doctorate of Ministry as a Wyatt Tee Walker Fellow from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Richardson has received extensive recognition for his dynamic and impactful leadership in ministry with Honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from several colleges and universities including his alma mater, Virginia Union University.
In 1989, Dr. Richardson was inducted into the Martin Luther King, Jr., Board of Preachers at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. His tireless efforts to defend and promote justice, fairness, and equality for all people were recognized in 2013, when Morehouse paid tribute to Dr. Richardson once again by inducting him into its International Hall of Honor. Established to celebrate extraordinary persons of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries who have made significant contributions to the global nonviolent movement for civil and human rights, Dr. Richardson’s portrait now resides in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, alongside images of the greatest leaders of the modern era.
A longtime community builder and organizer, Dr. Richardson has played a pivotal role in the grass root efforts of reestablishing a cultural bridge between community and education. He is singularly responsible for leveling the ground by fighting for equitable opportunities in public education in the Mount Vernon community and he has manned the front lines in the battle for just and affordable housing development. His steadfast efforts have resulted two Grace Church related Community Development Corporations which have constructed more than 100 million dollars in affordable housing to date.
Dr. Richardson served as General Secretary for twelve years of the eight-million-member National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., which thrust him into the international arena of the World Council of Churches where he served on its prestigious Central Committee. The World Council represents more than 400 million Christians in 150 nations. He also served on the boards of the Congress of the National Black Churches, the National Urban League, and the Constituency for Africa. A life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Dr. Richardson is also a member of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity.
This distinguished theologian is an internationally sought after preacher, lecturer and facilitator, having preached on several continents. For the past thirty years, he has been heard throughout the tri-state area on WVOX radio and is viewed on national television every Sunday morning. He is the author of the widely acclaimed, Power of the Pew, and has written extensively on faith-based community developments. Of note: “Mission to Mandate,” in the National Urban League’s State of Black America. In addition to such articles, Dr. Richardson’s most powerful sermons can be found in publications including, Keep the Faith (Welcome Rain Publishers) and Joy to the World (Simon & Schuster).
A man of enormous compassion, intuitive reason, absolute commitment, and an incisive mind, Dr. Richardson demonstrates in his persona the marvelous union of passion and intellect. He is a national advocate for economic equity and his counsel and advice are widely solicited in several major corporate boardrooms throughout America. Dr. Richardson currently serves as a director or trustee for Pepsi Cola (Ethnic Advisory Board); the Harvard University Divinity School Summer Leadership Institute for Church-based Community and Economic Development; Comcast Corporation and NBC Universal Joint Diversity Council; and Grace Community Development Corporation. He is Chairman of the Board of the National Action Network; the Conference of National Black Churches; American Legacy Magazine; and Virginia Union University.
Dr. Richardson is married to Inez Nunnally Richardson. They are the parents of three adult children and the grandparents of five.