N.C. Baptists are mourning the sudden and unexpected death of a beloved pastor who was active in ministry and community life through a variety of leadership roles.
David Richardson, pastor of Peace’s Chapel Baptist Church in Kittrell, N.C., died unexpectedly on Sept. 6 after suffering a pulmonary embolism following an extended hospital stay due to an infection. He was 41.
“My David went to be with Jesus last night and got the ultimate healing that we have prayed for,” Richardson’s wife, Becky, wrote in a Facebook post on Sept. 7. “He was able to spend a few hours at home last night before it happened and I was able to be with him before he became unconscious. He had a Pulmonary Embolism. He went peacefully and I am thankful that he was able to come home even if it was only for a few hours.”
A pulmonary embolism is a sudden blockage of an artery in the lung. They are often caused by blood clots that travel through the bloodstream to the lungs.
Richardson had served as pastor of Peace’s Chapel Baptist Church since September 2020. In addition, he was the current chairman of the board of education for Granville County Schools. Richardson was first elected to the school board in 2016 and then re-elected this past spring.
Richardson also served in a variety of leadership roles with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. He was currently serving as chairman of the state convention’s Committee on Convention Meetings, which plans each year’s N.C. Baptist annual meeting.
In July, Richardson and the committee announced that “On Mission Together” would be the theme for this year’s annual meeting, which is scheduled for Nov. 7-8 in Greensboro, N.C.
N.C. Baptist Executive Director-Treasurer Todd Unzicker described Richardson as a humble servant of the Lord.
“David served his local church and fellow N.C. Baptists with contagious humility and joy,” Unzicker said. “His presence will be missed by so many, but we do not grieve without hope. David loved to point others to his Savior, Jesus, and so that is exactly where we will look for comfort during difficult days. Your N.C. Baptist staff is praying for the Richardson family, Peace’s Chapel Baptist Church and all who grieve with them.”
Richardson also served two terms as a member of the state convention’s board of directors. He first served from 2006 to 2010 and then again from 2016-2019. Richardson has also served on the state convention’s executive committee and business services committee.
“He was the epitome of a faithful servant,” said John Butler, director of operations for the state convention. “No matter what you’d ask him to do, he’d say, ‘OK.’ He had a heart to serve.”
Angela Kilby said Richardson was the first person she met after being elected as the board’s secretary in 2019.
“I recall his kind, gentle spirit and servant’s heart,” Kilby said. “During his service as a board and executive committee member, he exemplified God’s heart for people and modeled a Christlike spirit toward others.”
Prior to becoming pastor at Peace’s Chapel Baptist Church, Richardson served as associate pastor and church administrator at First Baptist Church of Creedmoor, N.C., for more than 11 years from March 2008 to June 2019. He also served two stints as First Baptist Creedmoor’s interim pastor.
“He was the best supporter a pastor could have,” said James Shelley, who served as First Baptist Creedmoor’s senior pastor from 2013 to 2018.
Shelley praised Richardson’s administrative skills, and credited him with helping grow First Baptist Creedmor’s preschool ministry to more than 130 children.
“David was an excellent administrator, planner and resource person,” Shelley said. “But even greater than that was his heart for missions and outreach and special projects. He was a student of the Scripture and loved digging deep and learning. He was blessed with his wife, Becky, who shared his kingdom ideals. Pastors are blessed when they have a helpmate like Becky.”
David Herman first met Richardson when they were both involved in youth ministry in 2007. Herman, who now serves as senior pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Creedmoor, N.C., said that was the start of a “deep friendship” that lasted for the past 15 years.
“David was a friend to pastors,” Herman said. “He was my greatest confidant. We talked about life and ministry almost every day. He was a dear friend and a fellow pastor who was serving in the trenches.”
Herman said Richardson worked together on a variety of missions and ministry efforts through their local Baptist association. Herman said Richardson was a “huge proponent” of encouraging others to serve in various leadership roles in ministry on the local, regional and state levels.
In addition to his other leadership roles, Richardson was currently serving as treasurer of the Flat River Baptist Association at the time of his death. Through the years, he had served on the association’s finance committee and executive committee, as well as the association’s discipleship director, vice moderator and moderator.
“David was the glue that held the Flat River Baptist Association together when we were without a DOM (director of missions) for several years,” said Gus Gillespie, who became Flat River’s associational mission strategist (AMS) in September 2019. “He had institutional knowledge and willingness to work to get the job done that helped us during that season.”
Prior to becoming Flat River’s AMS, Gillespie worked with Richardson in the local school system. Gillespie retired as associate superintendent of Granville County Schools in 2017, about a year after Richardson was first elected to the school board.
Gillespie said Richardson was well respected in the community as a pastor and school board member.
“Even though he was well-known, he was also modest and humble when given praise,” Gillespie said.
As news of Richardson’s death spread, so did tributes on social media from pastors and other ministry leaders.
N.C. Baptist president Micheal Pardue, pastor of First Baptist Church Icard in Connelly Springs, N.C., called Richardson a “faithful pastor and friend.”
“David Richardson will be greatly missed,” Pardue said in a statement to the Biblical Recorder. “He was a caring pastor, thoughtful convention leader and a humble public servant in his community. I appreciated the constant encouragement he gave me over the last couple years as we served N.C. Baptists together. He had become a true friend.”
Pardue and Unzicker were among several N.C. Baptist leaders who preached at a revival conference that Richardson hosted at Peace’s Chapel Baptist Church this past spring. The revival also included Seth Brown, N.C. Baptist director of convention relations, and Jordon Willard, pastor of First Baptist Church of Weddington, N.C.
“It pains me to speak of David in the past tense,” Willard wrote in a Facebook post. “But I will always remember David as a kind, gentle, loving follower of Christ, a devoted husband, a strong leader in the church and community, and a faithful preacher of the Gospel.
“The world needs more David Richardsons, but heaven is richer now that he’s home.”
A funeral service for Richardson will be held Friday, Sept. 9, at 6:30 p.m. at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Creedmor, N.C. The service will also be livestreamed on Peace’s Chapel Baptist Church’s Facebook page.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — This story has been updated with Richardson’s funeral arrangements. Chad Austin is managing editor of the Biblical Recorder.)