Bishop David Richey and the Rev. Margaret Richey, often preach together at Gulf Coast Christian Center. Married 26 years, the couple, who are both popular speakers around the country, and give presentations internationally, as well, describe their experience of preaching together as deepening their faith and their marriage. "It's a dance," says Margaret Richey. (Press-Register/Bill Starling)
They met in Detroit in October 1985, both in their 30s, out of first marriages, each with two children and working in ministry.
He was a Full Gospel pastor with a radio show, "Prayer, Healing, and Deliverance."
She was in the same church, attentive to the spiritual needs of women, and resisting the call to preach.
Both were wary of getting involved with someone ever again.
One day, as they were praying over a woman in need, they noticed each other in a new and special way.
After that moment, recalls Bishop David Richey, 62, "I went to my pastor and said, ‘There’s something about her.’"
"I knew this was the guy," remembers Margaret Richey, 61, who fasted and prayed to make sure her instinct was true.
Days later they confessed to each other their feelings.
Soon, he proposed by quoting a passage from Psalms 34: "O magnify the Lord with me. Let us exalt his name."
The psalm, she says, is one she had prayed to hear from a man she could love.
Within three months of meeting, they got married.
Bishop David Richey and the Rev. Margaret Richey preach together now at Gulf Coast Christian Center, a large, new building five minutes from Mobile Regional Airport.
A nondenominational church with an appeal to charismatic Christians, as the bishop describes it, the center is at the crossroads of the Richeys’ many activities.
The couple, who had one child together, moved south in 1988 to plant a church, then became affiliated with International Gospel Outreach, based in Semmes.
They started a nonprofit organization, Operation Mobile, that became an avenue for them to engage the wider community in prayer and civic activities.
The Richeys talk about their life and love in a relaxed moment at Gulf Coast Christian Center. (Bill Starling/Press-Register)
With projects like Sidewalk Sunday School — prayer and teaching to people in their neighborhoods — and food outreach, Operation Mobile grew to create a network of churches far beyond.
"We love Mobile!" she said.
In the entrance foyer at Gulf Coast Christian Center, clocks set to time zones around the world show that connection — churches from Mexico to Nigeria — where the Richeys maintain ties to religious leaders.
They are in demand as visiting speakers.
David Richey’s great theme, he says, involves notions of religious unity.
"I like building people up," he says.
Margaret Richey talks often at women’s conferences, her interest being to help women in different cultures feel free to express their spiritual lives.
"My purpose," she says, "is to ignite and inspire and motivate God’s people into action."
Whether abroad or close to home, they are dedicated to community.
In Mobile, he mentors students in area schools; she is a volunteer chaplain for the Mobile Police Department.
And when they preach together, they work closely, finding the right rhythms.