Silk City Love Magazine: What church do you attend?
Elder Gale C. Richardson: The Greater Bible Way Church in Paterson, New Jersey. My pastor is Bishop Franklin Pettiford. He is the senior pastor.
SCLM: What are some of the activities that you are involved in with your church?
EGCR: Presently, I am one of the associate ministers of the Greater Bible Way Church. I am also the Sunday school teacher for the adult class; I am the minister of music, but I
am currently inactive; I also have a family retreat that was birth out of the Greater Bible Way Church, but it is now under my own entity.
SCLM: What led you to participate in all the ministries you are currently in?
EGCR: Some of the ministries that I have been involved in like the music ministry, I've grown up since I was four years old singing in the choir, and that enhanced from singing in the choir to becoming years of service as a choir member. I later became one of the main choir directors for the combined choir serving for 38 years in that ministry. From there, the praise team was formed. I was the leader and continued on to become the Minister of Music for the church for the last ten years.
SCLM: Have you had any formal training in directing music?
EGCR: My training was developed under the maestro and director, Theodore "Ricky" Burgess and Deborah Richardson Burgess. I served under their ministry singing for years as a member of the choir.
SCLM: Do you have a love for singing? Would you consider
singing a gift or talent?
EGCR: Yes, this is a gift that God has given me and blessed with me this talent. So yes, I am a worship leader.
SCLM: Have you ever thought about taking your singing career to the next level?
EGCR: Bringing my ministry to the next level would be making a music CD. I have been inquiring about CDs and performances, but I am not a lyric writer. I have been limited to moving forward in that capacity. But, I believe that the time is coming where I will be able to move in that direction.
SCLM: So, has singing brought you opportunities outside of the church?
EGCR: I have traveled various places as a worship leader. I have sung in the metropolitan area and abroad throughout the United States such as the Carolinas and Washington, D.C area and New York. So my singing, vocals, and music ministry has extended beyond Paterson, NJ.
SCLM: Wow, that's a lot of travel! You've mentioned that the family retreat was birth out of Bible Way. Can you tell us a little more on the retreat?
EGCR: The family retreat is a ministry that started from a youth development program in the early 90s. The program targeted single families and families in the urban
areas. It was basically to render services such as bringing families together, having a place for children to go that is not on the streets, and conduct weekly programs for children who were 3 three years old to 15-17 years old. I have to credit most of my attendance to my niece and nephew, Brian, who brought in their peers from school.
SCLM: What made you develop a program for the youth?
EGCR: Well, I was seeing the need for guidance for young people. They didn't have structure or anyone in their life to give them guidance. Instead of blaming them [for their behavior], I took on the responsibility that someone had to tell them; evidently, they did not know because no one was teaching them. So, I took on that role. My pastor had talked to me and asked me about doing it. I agreed and I began to seek out services that would enhance the ministry. It
started out as Christian Growth and Development, but as I began to write grants I needed to change the name so that it could not be just Christian-based, so it became The Youth Development Program.
SCLM: So, what is the family retreat?
EGCR: The family retreat is a ministry that piggy-backed off of the youth development program. It is a yearly function where everyone as a family comes together for spiritual guidance and natural enhancement and development.
SCLM: When did the retreat start?
EGCR: It has been in existence for almost 20 years in 1994, but I did have to take a break for about a little over 3 years, and I started it back up in 2007. We will be celebrating as of 2013, the 16 years of consistency for the retreat.
SCLM: What do you feel is your purpose in life?
EGCR: My purpose in life is to help build up others. I believe and know that I got that from my parents. My mother especially was a woman of God who loved and enjoyed serving people. I believe that in every aspect in life, I want to enhance people and encourage them.
SCLM: Besides the church community, have you done anything to help build up the community in Paterson?
EGCR: I have served the homeless during the holiday season like Thanksgiving. I would go down to the Masonic Temple and serve. My church yearly gives out baskets during the holidays, and I would give a donation to help serve the community. I also give a lot of clothes away. I used to see a
need and give the clothes directly to people, but I started giving it to Salvation Army. There is this new ministry in Paterson on Haledon Avenue called Ms. Maggie's. She takes clothing and different things from your home and help serve the community like that. So, now I give directly to that organization.
SCLM: That's wonderful being active in the community and to spread God's love to all people. What other ways are you able to reach the community?
EGCR: I am a part of the prison ministry where I go bi-weekly to the Passaic County Jail Correctional Facility and minister to male and female inmates. I spread the gospel of Jesus Christ that he is a deliverer and that he still saves
SCLM: What made you want to get involved with something like that?
EGCR: Basically, my pastor asked me to be a part of that ministry. Prior to that, I was going to and mentoring at the Fenwick House as a motivational speaker to the women that were in transitional homes for the incarcerated. Judy Foster was the director and would ask me to come in and speak to these women. I have received a lot of letters from the women telling me that they have been inspired to change their life around. I've seen grown men cry. I've seen God move in their lives.
SCLM: When you visit the prison, what is it like?
EGCR: There are a couple of settings like at times I would have to go into their cells, especially the women, when they didn't have enough security, but we all still wanted to minister to them. The people who I would go with were my deceased mother, Mary Richardson, and Mammie Allan, and my sister Pastor Laverne Squire. The majority of the time, I am having a chapel service where it is set up like a church service. My sister would play the piano and we will sing so they can be a part of the service. Since it is not an actual
church service, sometimes they have interjected to give their comments on how they enjoyed the service.
SCLM: As a Christian, have you faced any
challenges with your walk with God?
EGCR: I would say trusting God in every situation. I know that God is a provider. I'll use the retreat as a prime example. I've seen God meet the needs of the retreat when there was not enough money. I've seen the bill paid. Last year--I like to be prepared and have all my bills paid before I leave home, so I am not dealing with taking up offerings and so forth. One of the things I'd experience was that at the retreat, there was not enough to take care of my speakers or every expense that I had. An offering was raised and with only 28 people, the first night with Dr. Tucker, we raised over $500 dollars; the second night with Apostle Tims, on Saturday night, we raised an additional $550 dollars. That was over $1000 dollars with only 28 people. The bus was not full, and half the people that came did not have any money. So, it was definitely a miracle and a move of God.
SCLM: You know, as a Christian, we have our own beliefs that are different from other religions. Do you feel that other religions that are under the umbrella of Christianity pick and choose what they want to believe from the Bible?
EGCR: I'll say according to the Word of God that Jesus Christ says I am the door and you have to go through him. There is no other way to get to heaven. I respect other people's religion and what they feel, but if you don't acknowledge him as your Lord and Savior, then you are none of his. I don't believe that I am in a religion, I believe that I am in a relationship with the Lord. You can't get to God any other way than through his son Jesus.
SCLM: What do you see yourself doing in the next three years?
EGCR: Well, I do see the retreat growing. I've been ministered to and prophesied over. The retreat is my passion and to see the retreat in several locations. I would like to expand and house the retreat in a particular location that would be my own every year. Outside of the retreat, I would love to move forward as a motivational speaker which would be ministering and preaching the word of Christ for encouragement.
SCLM: Have you always lived a purpose driven life?
EGCR: I've always been purpose driven, but purpose driven for God [laughing], I've always been driven; I'll put it like that. One of the things that make me move the way that I am is that I am a task-oriented person. I like to see things get done, so when it comes down to purpose driven, one is always Christ driven. I can't do anything without God and I don't want to do nothing without him. A purpose driven life for me would be whatever God says.
SCLM: Outside of being a Christian, have you had any desires that you have been tempted with?
EGCR: I'm always faced with challenges, sin, and temptation. That does not exempt me from being a Christian. You are always presented to do wrong as a Christian, it's just how wide you open up the door to do wrong. I've always been under the umbrella of the church. I was raised and reared in church, so I didn't go so far outside the box. As I started growing older, I started experiencing things on my own like being in relationships that wasn't always pleasing to God. Have I been tempted, yes. Have I failed and yielded to temptation, of course; but has that knocked me out from being a Christian, no. But it is all about asking for forgiveness. Not saying that you walk a perfect life, but when you are in a relationship with the Lord, you want to stay in fellowship, but when you are out of fellowship, you feel uncomfortable. The bottom line is that being saved and being a Christian sinning, you will feel out of place. Have I messed up or will I do something wrong tomorrow, probably. But the wages of sin is death...you can't continue to operate and sin and do what God wants you to do.
SCLM: How are you able to balance your spiritual life with your natural life?
EGCR: I've learned that it becomes one. As we were talking about being out of fellowship with God, that is my natural life. Having a relationship with God, I begin to blend it as one because after while it can't be separated. One of the scriptures say acknowledge him in all my ways. My spiritual and natural life is just my whole journey in life. I learn how to balance it. In my opinion, as a saved Christian you can't do what you want to do and be a Christian.
SCLM: What are some interesting things you would like our
readers to know about you?
EGCR: I am a lot of fun. I am a detail person in some areas of my life. One part of me is so driven that makes me unstoppable, and there's the other part where I am a procrastinator. Some things take me to get a little bit of fire to get moving. When I make up my mind to do something, it is a done deal. Also, I am family oriented. I love God, first and foremost, and I just like to have a good time. I enjoy people. I love people.
SCLM: As God elevated your spiritual life, what do you consider the most rewarding?
EGCR: I'll say the Youth Development Program expanding into the retreat is the most rewarding because there I've seen lives changed. I've seen young people as well as old people get filled with the Holy Ghost. I've also seen healing taking place. One of my greater testimonies is where a young lady was sentence to 20 years in prison. She came to the retreat, not filled with the Holy Ghost. Before the weekend, she was filled with the Holy Ghost, and she went back to the judge. He said, "I don't know why I am doing this, but there is something about you." Instead of the 20 years in prison, he gave her 30 days in solitude.
SCLM: Oh wow! That was it?
EGCR: So, I don't know what she did, but God had mercy on her. She got filled with the Holy Ghost at the retreat, and God changed her entire life.
SCLM: When is the Family Annual Retreat?
EGCR: August 16-18th of 2013, this year at the Pocono Manor in Pocono, Pennsylvania.
SCLM: Who has influenced or impacted your life greatly?
EGCR: My mother, Mary Richardson. She was a prayer warrior; she was an intercessor and supporter. My mother was my greatest influence, and I love her.
SCLM: If God could describe you in one word, what would it be?
EGCR: Faithful...Crazy. (Laughing)
SCLM: Yeah, how about that. Faithfully-Crazy. We can blend it together mixing your personal with your spiritual. Crazy-Faithful. (Laughing) How about if you could describe God
in one word, what would it be?
SCLM: Is there anything else you would like to tell someone who will read your interview?
EGCR: You've covered a lot. I think that is it.
SCLM: Would you like to say anything about Silk City Love
magazine, since you are (clears throat) the first interview of the online issue. (Laughing)
EGCR: This is an upcoming online magazine that I wish much success. I am really inspired and blessed by this young lady who has great vision and a lot of talent.
SCLM: But, you know what, you inspire me. I look at all the things that you have started yourself. I look at you, and you are an entrepreneur. You start things and then it happens. You are amazing, and this interview was amazing. Thank you and may God continue to bless your Annual Family Retreat.