MEET OUR FIRST FAMILY
Turner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church of Marietta, Georgia is pleased to announce that Rev. Dr. Tar-U-Way Richard Allen Bright, Sr. was recently appointed as their Senior Pastor.
Rev. Dr. Bright will maintain pastoral, administrative, and ministerial responsibilities for the 153 year-old, 4000+ congregation. A native of Liberia, West Africa, he is the son of Rev. Canon J. Jellico Bright (a retired Episcopal Priest) and Mrs. Eliatha Ketter Bright (former 14th Episcopal District WMS President). He professed salvation at age 17. Three years later, he distinctly recalled the moment during his mom’s church concert when he felt in his heart that his gift from God was that of ministry. He went on to obtain his Bachelor of Theology Degree with honors from Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary. He graduated with honors from the Turner Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, Georgia in 2001 obtaining a Master of Divinity in Theology and Homiletics. He obtained his Doctor of Ministry Degree with distinct honors and awards from ITC in 2008.
He became an Assistant Pastor of Eliza Turner Memorial AME Church at age 25. A year later, he was appointed Pastor after the previous Pastor (Rev. David R. Daniels, Jr., now the Presiding Prelate of the 15th Episcopal) had to leave due to the Civil War. Rev. Dr. Bright’s Liberian high school sweetheart and love of his life Retta Bright was his biggest supporter and impacted his life decisions greatly. He visited her in 1997 while she was attending school in the United States (Atlanta). A year later, he returned to begin his studies in the US. The two married in 1995 and will soon celebrate their 23rd wedding anniversary. They are parents to two children – Tar-U-Way, Jr, a high school junior and TaRetta Melody, a high school freshmen.
Rev. Dr. Bright attended a traditional Atlanta area AME Church while in seminary. He recalls his first visit to Turner Chapel AME, “I accompanied my then Pastor for a very brief visit to deliver an offering and I was ecstatic to hear the music and see young people praising the Lord. Turner Chapel was on fire and I wanted to be connected.” He soon joined as an Ordained Minister in 1999 and became responsible for the Intercessory Prayer Ministry. Shortly afterwards, he and Retta moved to Texas to receive support from family during a challenging pregnancy. They returned to Atlanta a year later and the late and former Pastor of Turner Chapel AME, Rev. Dr. Kenneth Marcus offered him the position of Worship Pastor, where he served for five years. He was later appointed Executive Pastor in 2008 and served until he was appointed Interim Pastor in January 2018.
Rev. Dr. Bright was appointed by the Presiding Prelate of the 6th Episcopal District of the AME Church, Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, to become the Senior Pastor of Turner Chapel AME on June 1, 2018. Dr. Bright said of his appointment, “I felt like God performed a miracle,” when asked about his reaction to hearing the Bishop call his name. The loud music in the air were the screams of his wife, Retta and Rev. Dr. Cassandra Marcus, the church Co-Pastor and widow of Rev. Dr. Kenneth Marcus. The prayers of the congregation were answered as they prayed for his appointment.
Rev. Dr. Bright is excited about the opportunities at Turner Chapel. He feels that Rev. Dr. Marcus “did what a good leader does and trained me to lead and serve.” He looks forward to continuing vibrant, spirit-filled worship services, maintaining and increasing millennials and young adult presence; expanding community and international presence, and helping the congregation to establish a second church location, to name a few goals. He also looks forward to internal and external health initiatives. Retta is a Family Nurse Practitioner and will soon earn her Master’s Degree in Psychiatric Nursing.
Rev. Dr. Bright loves music, plays keyboards, and is an avid runner. One of the church’s upcoming initiatives under his leadership is sponsoring a 5K Road Race next month named in honor of Rev. Dr. Kenneth Marcus. The Brights plan to run as a family. Retta and their two children joined him recently for the third year in a row to run the Atlanta Peachtree Road Race as a family, which Rev. Dr. Bright has run since 2005.