FAMU Announces AME Church Senior Bishop Adam Richardson Jr., will be Summer Commencement Speaker

Newly elevated African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Senior Bishop Adam Jefferson Richardson, Jr., will address Florida A&M University (FAMU) graduates as the Summer Commencement speaker on Aug. 2. 

The commencement ceremony for graduates from all schools and colleges will be held at 6 p.m. in the Alfred Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center and Teaching Gymnasium, 1800 Wahnish Way, Tallahassee. More than 300 undergrad, graduate and law degrees will be conferred during the ceremony.

Bishop Richardson said he is excited about speaking since this year has a special significance in his relationship with the University. 

“This is my 50th year out of FAMU. It’s quite an honor,” said Richardson. “I look forward to sharing whatever insights and wisdom I have gained over these five decades.” 

This will be Richardson’s third return as a speaker at FAMU. He plans to savor it. 

“I don’t expect to have another one,” he said. “I am really grateful for this one.” 

Richardson, who studied philosophy and religion and was the head drum major in the FAMU Marching “100,” was named senior bishop during the AME Church’s Annual Council of Bishops and General Board Meeting Worship Service on June 26, 2019, in Birmingham, Alabama. 

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 former pastor of Tallahassee’s Bethel AME Church, Richardson obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree from FAMU in 1969. He earned his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Sacred Theology degrees at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta.  

Before being elected as the 115th AME Bishop in 1996, for 18 years, Richardson served as pastor of Bethel AME, which is located near the FAMU campus. 

As a bishop, Richardson’s ministry has had global reach. He served churches in West Africa, including Sierra Leone, Ghana, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Togo and Benin, South Africa, Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Florida and the Bahamas. The AME Church has more than two million members in 40 countries across five continents. 

Richardson will serve as senior bishop until his retirement in 2024. At his consecration, reflecting on his time as a FAMU drum major, Richardson said, “There are quite a few steps (literally and figuratively) between the Patch (the practice field) and Senior Bishop!”

He and his wife, Connie Speights Richardson, are the parents of two adult children: son, Trey, a certified hospital radiographer and professional saxophone player, and daughter, Leon County Judge Monique Richardson, who is also a FAMU alum.

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