Richardson Steps Down as Board Chair
The Rev. Dr. David L. Richardson will step down as Chair of the Claremont School of Theology Board of Trustees following its meeting on Monday, May 19th. Richardson joined the board in 2011 and began his tenure as chair shortly after in 2012. He is the first alumnus of the school to serve as board chair. The Rev. Patricia Farris, Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica will succeed Richardson as Chair. He will remain a member of the Board of Trustees.
“We are tremendously grateful for Dave Richardson’s thoughtful and steady leadership,” says CST President Jeffrey Kuan. “As the first alumnus to chair the Board of Trustees, he has set the bar high for future alumni to guide this School with dignity and grace.”
Richardson’s tenure as Chair of the CST Board of Trustees coincided with one of the most challenging periods in the School’s history as it struggled in its relationship with Claremont Lincoln University. As the schools’ paths diverged, Richardson lent a pastoral presence in the difficult process that led to the end of their strategic relationship last month.
"It was my privilege to work side-by-side with Dave Richardson as he led the board through one of the worst crises in the history of this seminary,” says Philip Clayton, Ingraham Professor of Theology at CST. “Most people will probably never know the wisdom, the calm, and the commitment that he showed as board chair during this period. In leadership you find relatively few people who are built out of integrity from the ground up. Dave Richardson is one of those people."
David Richardson first arrived at CST in 1964 to begin his studies for a Doctor of Religion degree, shortly after completing his bachelor’s degree at the University of Redlands. He was awarded a full scholarship to pursue his studies at CST, which culminated in a dissertation titled “The Problem of Freedom for Christianity” advised by Professor Emeritus John Cobb and Howard Clinebell and completed in 1969.
Richardson’s distinguished career in ministry began with a series of student pastorates in the 1960s – first locally at United Methodist Church in Redlands, and then across the American West with the Christian Ministry in the National Parks, serving at Yosemite and Grand Tetons National Parks. He was ordained a Deacon in The United Methodist Church in 1965 and began as Associate Minister at San Luis Obispo UMC in 1969. He was ordained an Elder in 1971. That same year he was licensed as a Marriage & Family Counselor by the State of California.
Over forty years in ordained ministry, Richardson served United Methodist congregations throughout the California-Pacific Conference, including Los Osos, Long Beach, and Northridge. He returned to congregational ministry in 2000 as Senior Pastor at Pasadena First UMC before retiring in 2005.
Throughout his career, Richardson has been appointed to key positions within the California-Pacific Annual Conference. From 1995-2000, he was appointed as District Superintendent for the Santa Ana and Santa Barbara Districts of the Cal-Pac Conference, respectively. For 21 years, he was a member of the Conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry, which he chaired from 1988 to 1992. Richardson’s leadership within the United Methodist Church continues in his retirement. He currently sits on the Board of Pensions for the Cal-Pac Annual Conference and chairs the Conference’s Committee of Investigation. He also serves as Special Assistant to Bishop Grant Hagiya of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference.
Among the hallmarks of Richardson’s life in ministry has been founding of several social service initiatives to benefit those in need in the local communities surrounding the United Methodist congregations he served. In San Luis Obispo, he contributed to the founding of the Child Development Corp., a full-day Head Start program to provide fundamental early childhood education for the underprivileged. He helped to found People’s Self-Help Housing, a non-profit low-income housing program for those in need who reside in San Louis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties. He later served as the organization’s president.
Richardson has a long-standing commitment to improving the lives and experiences of refugees. Since 1975, he has worked directly with Vietnamese, Hmong, Iu-mien, Guatemalan, Burmese, and Iraqi refugees as they adjust to their new communities and American culture.
Since completing his studies at CST in 1969, he has remained active as an author and adjunct professor. He has contributed chapters to two edited volumes that explore the Christian theological response to disability, terminal illness, and the right to die. In 1981, he also co-authored a book with Dr. Michael Emmons entitled The Assertive Christian, which explores emotional awareness within the Christian context.
For ten years, Richardson taught at colleges and universities in and around San Luis Obispo, including courses on family development and world religions. He has also returned to CST several times as an instructor. In 2005, he co-taught a course on Theology of Ministry with Emory Purcell. In the summer of 1998, he offered a course on Church Administration for the School of Local Pastors at CST. This summer he will offer another such course on Pastoral Care and Counseling.
In his retirement, Richardson enjoys indulging his great love of family and the outdoors, taking advantage of every opportunity to hike, fish, garden, and bird-watch – preferably in the company of his wife Anne, whom he married in 1963, their three children, and eight grandchildren.
Incoming Board Chair Rev. Patricia Farris frames Richardson’s contributions to his alma mater in light of these commitments to family and nature. “Who in their right mind would take time out of Retirement in beautiful Gig Harbor, Washington – time with family including grandkids, time watching birds, to come back and serve as Chair of the CST Board of Trustees at a critical juncture in the life of the School?” she asks, “An alum, of course. But not just any alum – Dave Richardson.”
“Dave's love of the School goes back to his time as a student, and continues through countless on-going relationships with alums, faculty, clergy colleagues, and friends. He has brought the heart of a pastor, the loyalty of a friend, the clear-eyes of a reader and thinker, the focus of an administrator, the rock-steadiness of a person of deep faith, the expansive heart of a lover of all the people of God, and the conviction of the resurrecting power of Christ to the work of our Board. We are deeply grateful, far beyond what words can express. And Claremont School of Theology is a stronger and more vital place as a result of his leadership.”
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