Sunday, January 29, 2006


Biographical Sketch of Bishop Richard Franklin Norris, Presiding Bishop, First Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

Bishop Richard Franklin Norris was born 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, then 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 has since received honorary doctorates from the Lee Theological Seminary, and Monrovia College. His fellowships have included the Ford Foundation Urban Training Center (Chicago, Ill), the Lily
Foundation, the New York City Mission Society and the New York Theological Seminary.

Bishop Norris has 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, PA from 1986 through 1993, and St. Matthew AME Church, also in Philadelphia, from 1993 to 2000.

Bishop Norris has many civic affiliations to his credit and has done much to improve the quality of life in the communities in which 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, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Cote D’Ivoire. There, Bishop Norris was an able and effective leader in the spiritual and educational development of the people in the areas in which he served. He rebuilt churches, schools and universities that had been destroyed in the ongoing unrest in the area. He has traveled to and from Africa frequently 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, the Episcopal Committee met to carry out the business of the Church and to appoint Bishops to its 20 districts. The AME Church is the fourth largest church in the National Council of Churches. Its 20 districts include: The U.S. and Canada, Africa, Europe, the Caribbean and South America.

At the General Conference, the presiding elders, ministers, delegates and lay people of the First District requested that the Episcopal Committee send Bishop Richard Franklin Norris 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. We are happy to have Bishop Norris here and…

We cannot introduce Bishop Norris without including our beloved Episcopal Supervisor, Mrs. Mary Ann Hill Norris, his wife and soul mate for over thirty years. As the Supervisor of Missions for the First District, Mrs. Norris is an integral and important component of our Episcopal Team. Bishop and Mrs. Norris are the proud parents of two sons. The oldest, Richard Franklin Norris, II, is a successful computer company executive and an accomplished musician and music director in the First District. His brother, the Rev. Marcellus Norris, is the pastor of historic Bethel AME Church in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Bishop and Mrs. Norris reside in Philadelphia.



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