Distinguished pastor to speak at annual banquet

February 4, 2011

Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church will host the Ellendale Community Civic Improvement Association special banquet at 5 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 19. This year marks 30 years of the mission Serving the Community Today for a Better Tomorrow. The keynote speaker will be Bishop Richard Franklin Norris, presiding bishop of the First Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The event will be at Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, 18211 Beach Highway, Ellendale, where the Rev. Linda A. Powell serves as pastor. All tickets are $25 per person in advance only and may be purchased by calling Harold Truxon at 422-4304, Diaz J. Bonville at 645-7544 or Sherry White at 422-3178. There will be no tickets sold at the door and no refunds. Checks should be made payable to ECCIA.

Norris was born in Atlanta, Ga., to the Rev. David Norris and Mabel E. Brown Norris. In his early years, Norris’s family moved to Philadelphia, where he was educated in the public school system. After graduating from West Philadelphia High School, Norris attended Morris Brown College. He then transferred to Rutgers University, where he received his bachelor of arts 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.

Norris has since earned honorary doctorates from the Lee Theological Seminary, Monrovia College, Wilberforce University and Payne Theological Seminary. His fellowships have included the Ford Foundation Urban Training Center in Chicago, the Lily Foundation, the New York City Mission Society and the New York Theological Seminary.

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

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.

Norris was elected and consecrated the 116th bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church during the Forty-sixth Quadrennial General Conference in June 2000. 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, Norris was a leader in the spiritual and educational development of the people in the areas where 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 was in jeopardy.

Norris was sent in June 2004, 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.

Norris’ wife of more than 40 years is Episcopal Supervisor Mary Ann Hill Norris. As the supervisor of missions for the First District, she is an integral component of the Episcopal team.

The Ellendale Community Civic Improvement Association welcomes everyone to attend this opportunity to enrich their understanding and support of helping low-income poverty communities.

Included with the banquet will be the presentation of the 2011 community service awards presented to William “Bill” W. Collick, head football coach at Cape Henlopen High School; Fred Bowden; Raymond White Sr.; and Jane Hovington, president of the Lower Sussex County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Sacred Movement will provide the entertainment.

For additional event details, call 302-422-4304 or 645-7544.

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