In Memoriam: The Rev. Emily Richards

Thursday, January 18th, 2024

The Reverend Canon Emily Barr Richards

July 23, 1971 – January 16, 2024

The Rev. Canon Emily Barr Richards, an Episcopal priest serving as Priest-in-Charge at the historic parish of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, Whitemarsh, died peacefully on January 16, 2024, after a courageous battle with cancer.  Previously, she had served as Rector at St. Peter’s in Glenside, PA, Associate Rector at St. Stephen’s in Ridgefield, CT, and Vicar of St. Alban’s in Morehead, KY.

Born and raised in Lexington, KY, Emily will be remembered as an unstoppable force. Diagnosed as an infant with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, she spent much of her childhood in and out of hospitals. Not always sure how she fit in to an able-bodied world, she found a home and a sense of belonging in her church, Christ Church Cathedral, Lexington. She graduated from Lexington Catholic, as “Girl of the Year,” and went on to study Latin at Sewanee: The University of the South. She thrived in college, making hundreds of friends, graduating cum laude, and winning the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. As a student at Sewanee her call to be ordained a priest was confirmed, and several years after graduating she would return to earn her Masters of Divinity.

Emily’s ministry was always about radical hospitality. She was dedicated to making all people feel welcome, whether they were a long-time parishioner or just a casual visitor. Emily’s authentic leadership held many gifts for the church, but her greatest passion was for pastoral care. She approached every situation with an open heart and a collaborative spirit. On a diocesan level she served as Dean of the Montgomery Deanery, as a member of the Cathedral Chapter, and as a delegate to the Episcopal General Convention. Despite many accomplishments and accolades, she felt one of her greatest blessings was in welcoming and fully incorporating the parishioners of St. Phillip’s into the church family of St. Peter’s.

Emily leaves a loving and grateful family. Her husband, Daniel, was her partner in both marriage and ministry. He was entrusted with her safe keeping 27 years ago by her parents and brothers. Their daughter Maggie was Emily’s greatest joy and treasure. She loved watching her grow into a beautiful ballerina and marveled at all her creative endeavors. Her family in Lexington, KY includes her parents Garland and Donna Barr, brother Andy (Davis), brother Peter (Colleen). Her nieces and nephews, Eleanor, Mary Clay, Bobby, and Hale. Her aunts Elsie Barr, Barbara Faulconer (Richard), and uncle Jim Faulconer. Her Vermont family, father-in-law Dan Richards and sister-in-law Holly. Her Philadelphia family of devoted friends and loving communities of St. Peter’s and St. Thomas’.

The memorial service will be held Thursday, January 25 at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, 7020 Camp Hill Rd, Fort Washington, PA 19034 at 3 p.m. Clergy are asked to arrive at 2:30 to vest.  (Please contact the Rev. Canon Jane Gober,, for details if you did not receive them.)  

In lieu of flowers, Emily has requested that donations be sent to Episcopal Community Services, 225 S. 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106; The Saint James School, 3217 West Clearfield St, Philadelphia, PA 19132; or St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, 7020 Camp Hill Rd., Fort Washington, PA 19034.

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