Dr. Warner Antonio Richards, a fourth generation Seventh-day Adventist, began his pastoral ministry in his native country of Costa Rica at the age of 21. After serving for five months as an assistant pastor he was assigned his first district, consisting of seven churches, in the Province of Puntarenas on the Pacific Coast. After only four years of service he was ordained to the gospel ministry. At the time this was an unprecedented occurrence in the Central American Union of Seventh-day Adventists.
In his ministerial capacity he has served as pastor, counselor, influencer and community leader for more than 29 years. Accordingly, he has conducting seminars on leadership, family-life enrichment, conflict resolution, personal growth, mental health, and personal empowerment and on the everlasting end-time prophetic gospel throughout Latin America, North America and West Africa both in English and Spanish.
During his time as a pastor in Costa Rica (1989–1998), he planted two churches, and constructed three temples and one school. He also renovated 5 church buildings; paid off one church mortgage and produced two radio broadcasts. In February of 1999 after receiving an invitation from the Northeastern Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (NEC), Dr. Richards and his wife migrated to New York to assume the pastorate of the Corona SDA church, in Queens, NY (1999–2007).
The Corona SDA Church is an English-speaking congregation located in a rapidly growing Spanish-speaking community. He was commissioned, by the late President Stennett Brooks, with the task of bridging the gap between the two cultures. Leading out several community outreach events including yearly bilingual Crusades, a weekly Bible study in Spanish and starting wireless simultaneous translation at every worship service, as a result many Latinos joined the congregation. He also served as the speaker and director of a weekly radio broadcast “Voice of Hope” on WMCA 570 AM. During his tenure of eight and a half years at the Corona SDA Church, Dr. Richards co-founded and was a member of the board of directors of the Queens Congregations United for Action (QCUA), a faith-based organization, which is still active today. With the partnership of the QCUA organization and utilizing community organizing methods he was able to successfully broker deals between elected officials, the Corona community and the Sanitation Department for cleaner streets. In addition, he also participated in negotiations with the City and investors for affordable housing and small business opportunities for residents during the early planning phases of the construction of the New York Mets’ Stadium at Citi Field.
In August of 2007, Dr. Richards was assigned by former NEC President Dr. Pastor Trevor H.C. Baker to the pastorate of the Shiloh SDA Church in Crown Heights, Brooklyn (2007–2012). During his tenure at Shiloh his focus was on restoring connection with the youth, bridging the age gap between children, youth and seniors, enriching church worship through enhanced technology and music ministries, establishing programs for families and individual growth, solidifying spiritual leadership through training opportunities, promoting a more inclusive and community friendly atmosphere, restoring fiscal responsibility and investing in church beautification.
In May of 2010 Dr. Richards lead a charge for justice against a highly publicized unwarranted incarceration of one of his young members and the storming of the Shiloh Church temple during Sabbath hours by NYPD police officers. He hosted a press conference at the church with the support of elected officials, then organized a Community Prayer Vigil, inviting the media and galvanizing the attendance and support of multi-denominational clergy, national civic leaders, local politicians and the Brooklyn community. In an unprecedented turn of events charges were dropped and the good name of the church was preserved.
In January 2013, Dr. Richards was assigned by NEC President Dr. Daniel Honore as the Senior Pastor for The Linden SDA Church in Laurelton, Queens, NY (2013 – 2019). This responsibility included guidance to the Linden SDA BSMART School, Daycare, and Preschool, located on its compound.
During his time at Linden God blessed his leadership with the launching of a new mission statement for the congregation with a renewed projection on community outreach, member development and capital investments, which are the signature cornerstones of Dr. Richards’ tenure. Linden sponsored events such as: Mother’s Day Impact Evangelism, Father’s Day Impact Evangelism, Community Health Fair, an extended month-long Vacation Bible School, and a Back to School Fair that have become vanguards for community outreach in the Laurelton-Rosedale and Springfield Gardens areas.
In addition, The Linden Discipleship University (LDU) presented ongoing spiritual and personal development programming for Linden members. With the acquisition of a property on 227-20 137th Ave. in Laurelton, the Linden Daycare has been expanded. Then a major accomplishment under Dr. Richards’ leadership was the installation of an elevator in the temple. This fulfilled a longtime dream for the Linden Congregation. The sanctuary and school were renovated becoming a symbol of pride to all those involved.
Dr. Richards is married to Panamanian-born Professor Norka Blackman-Richards. She comes from a long line of Seventh-day Adventists ministers and missionaries. She has been his partner in ministry for the past 28 years. Norka is an educator, writer, sought- after empowerment speaker, and the President and Founder of 4 Real Women International, Inc. (4RWI), a non-profit organization that services women and their families in the USA and abroad. Norka has created and spearheaded 4RWI's International Conferences and its signature initiatives such as: The Leadership Academy 4 Women: L.E.A.D!, The International Power Call (The IPC), Empowering Possibilities 4 Women (EP4W), Women of Influence (WoI) and Voices of Women (VoW). She is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Empowerment 4 Real Women, 4RWI's signature magazine. Professor Norka is a member of several professional organizations and at present she lectures for the City University of New York at Queens College and is the Director of the Percy E. Sutton SEEK Program.
Both Warner and Norka love people and love ministering to God’s people; both share a passion for serving the community in innovative ways. Their visionary ministerial enterprises are driven by their tireless pursuit for excellence in service, for they believe that God deserves nothing less than their very best. They count it a privilege and an honor to be used as God’s instruments for the service of mankind.
As a testament to their leadership on October 22, 2011, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke honored Pastor Richards and his wife Norka Blackman – Richards with a Congressional Proclamation on behalf of the United States House of Representatives for their outstanding service and dedication to the Crown Heights, Brooklyn community.
In his academic training and development Dr. Richards holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theology (Union College), a Masters in Christian Counseling (American Christian College and Seminary), a Masters of Arts in Pastoral Ministry (Andrews University), and is a Clinical Chaplain (College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy). And he is a Doctor of Psychology with a specialization in Mediation and Conflict Resolution (University of the Rockies/Ashford University). His doctoral research was entitled, “The Meaning Clergy Derive from Congregational Conflict and How do they Describe its Effects on Motivation and Satisfaction.”
He holds several certificates in stress management, crisis intervention, and pre-marital counseling/marriage enrichment. He is a certified psychometric interpreter (Oscar Murphy Life Strategists [OMI] and The Assessment World [TAW]). He is also an active member of the (American Association of Christian Counselors [AACC]). He is the founder of Aubrey & Hugh Consulting LLC, and the author of “The Real Life Matrix Bible Study Guide: A Journey into The Born Again Experience.”
In May 2019 Dr. Richards was appointed as the Senior Pastor for the Hanson Place SDA Church in Brooklyn, NY and his journey there has just began. He loves the Lord and he loves people. He has a passion for serving the community in creative ways. He believes that every child of God who is born again in Christ has been called to a life of excellence. The scripture that motivates Pastor Richards’ ministerial philosophy is Luke 4: 18 -19:
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”