MANA Joins AME Church in Mourning the Loss of Bishop Richard Norris

he Right Reverend Richard Franklin Norris was the 116th consecrated bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Bishop Norris was the sixth of eleven siblings in Atlanta, Georgia to the Rev. David Norris and Mrs. Mabel E. Brown Norris. In his early years, Bishop Norris’ family moved to Philadelphia, where he was educated in the Public-School System. After graduating from West Philadelphia High School, Bishop Norris attended Morris Brown College and transferred to Rutgers University, where he received his B.A. Degree. Having received the call to ministry at age 15, he attended the New Brunswick Theological Seminary and the New York Theological Seminary, where he received his Doctor of Ministry Degree. Bishop Norris also received honorary doctorates from the Lee Theological Seminary, Wilberforce University, Payne Theological Seminary, and Monrovia College. His fellowships have included the Ford Foundation Urban Training Center (Chicago), the Lilly Foundation, the New York City Mission Society, and the New York Theological Seminary.

Bishop Norris pastored throughout the First Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Pennsylvania, Bermuda, New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia. He was Pastor of Mother Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1986 through 1993, and St. Matthew AME Church in Philadelphia from 1993 to 2000.

Bishop Norris had many civic affiliations to his credit and has done much to improve the quality of life in the communities he has served.

In June 2000, at the Forty-Sixth Quadrennial General Conference, Bishop Norris was elected and consecrated the 116th Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He was sent to serve the 14th Episcopal District in West Africa, which includes Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Cote d’Ivoire. There, Bishop Norris was an able and influential leader in the spiritual and educational development of the people in the areas where he served. He rebuilt churches, schools, and universities destroyed in the area’s ongoing unrest. He has frequently traveled to and from Africa for the good of his pastors and the people, even when his life would have been in jeopardy.

In June 2004, at the Forty-Seventh Quadrennial General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Bishop Richard Franklin Norris was appointed to the First District, where the AME Church started under Bishop Richard Allen in 1787. This district includes the eastern half of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, New England (including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut), and Bermuda.

In July 2012, Bishop Norris was appointed at the Forty-Ninth Quadrennial Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church to serve the Seventh Episcopal District, which is the state of South Carolina.

Bishop Norris died on June 14, 2023. He was predeceased by his wife of over forty years, Mrs. Mary Ann Hill Norris. Bishop Norris was the father of six children: daughters Crystal Gale Norris, Dawn Denise Norris, Katherine Elizabeth Lillian Norris, and sons the Rev. Richard Franklin Norris II (pastor of Bethel-Hosanna AME Church in Pennsauken, New Jersey) and the Rev. Dr. Marcellus Norris (Executive Director of the Department of Church Growth and Development of the AME Church). Among his grandchildren is Richard Franklin Norris, III, Connectional President of the Young People’s and Children’s Division of the Women’s Missionary Society.

Please be in prayer for the family.

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