Born in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, and raised in Bridgeport, Alabama, Richard started preaching on a regular basis at age 15. He preached in his home church, First Baptist Church in Bridgeport, as well as other Southern Baptist and United Methodist churches in the area.
At First Baptist Church, Bridgeport, Richard served as the interim pastor from 1985-1986 before being ordained a Southern Baptist minister in September 1986 and moving on to Kennedy Baptist Church in Kennedy, Alabama. The last 5 years at Kennedy, he served as pastor.
Richard graduated from the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa) with a major in History and a minor in Religious Studies and attended the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. After leaving Kennedy, Richard served as the Executive Crusade Administrator for the Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association (SDEA) based in Birmingham. During his tenure with SDEA, Richard organized several area-wide crusades in the Southeastern United States and organized a mission crusade in Nicaragua. He also received invaluable training from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in preparation for the 1993 Pittsburgh and the 1994 Atlanta crusades.
After coming out, Richard became involved with Covenant Metropolitan Community Church (now Covenant Community Church) in Birmingham. Soon, he became student clergy and was sent by Covenant to plant a new work in Gadsden. The Gadsden Bible Study started in a private residence with less than 10 and within a year, the Bible Study was given a storefront to hold the crowd that had grown to around 60. Gadsden MCC had its first Sunday morning worship service in September 1997.
Richard accepted Covenant’s call to become its associate pastor. Richard served as the associate pastor from September 1997 to December 1999. During that time, he was involved in the gay community of Birmingham. He served on the board of directors of Birmingham AIDS Outreach and served as treasurer on the founding board of directors of Central Alabama (Gay) Pride. In November 1999, Richard was ordained as a minister in the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC).
The Metropolitan Community Church of Huntsville (now the Spirit of the Cross Church) extended a call to Richard to become its pastor in November 1999. He accepted and has been in Huntsville since December 1, 1999. The church has experienced growth in membership and in every area of ministry and worship. In August 2007, Spirit of the Cross completed the new worship center that was built to help accommodate the growth. In March 2009, the church completed the addition of new classrooms in the Celia Reynolds Fellowship Hall.
Over a nearly two-year discernment process, Pastor Richard led Spirit of the Cross' effort to affiliate with the United Church of Christ denomination. By a congregational vote in October 2018, Spirit of the Cross became a member of the United Church of Christ. On November 1, 2018, Spirit of the Cross was designated an Open and Affirming (ONA) congregation by the ONA Coalition of the United Church of Christ.
Since coming to Huntsville, Pastor Richard has served on the board of directors of the AIDS Action Coalition of Huntsville (now Thrive Alabama), including a year as its second vice president. He served on the board of Soulforce Alabama, an organization that supports freedom for LGBT people from religious and political oppression through nonviolent resistance. For nearly five years, he served as a founding board member of the GLBT Advocacy and Youth Services organization in Huntsville. He is also a frequent guest on local college panels and local media regarding gay and religious issues.
Family Life and Personal
Pastor Richard comes from a loving and supportive family. He has a wonderful mother and stepfather, father and stepmother, three younger sisters, a stepbrother, a stepsister, six nieces and three nephews.
Pastor Richard is a lover of all things Crimson Tide, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Sports (Steelers, Penguins, Pirates), RuPaul's Drag Race, Liberace, and Elvis Presley. He enjoys discussing history and theology. Some of his favorite theologians and authors include Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Walter Brueggemann, Brian Zahnd, Rob Bell, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Tony Campolo.