"The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living"
Marcus Tullius Cicero
Apostle Eric F. Ricks
Apostle Eric F. Ricks
Life Story of Apostle Eric F. Ricks
Eric Furl Ricks was born on September 30, 1940 to the late William Furl Ricks and Margaret Boggs Ricks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended public schools in Philadelphia and graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School. Shortly after high school he landed a job as a Bike Messenger with the old Western Union Telegraph Company, and worked his way up to Motor Messenger. Although he enjoyed his job there, the Lord had greater plans for him as a “messenger”.
He met the love of his life, Vernell Starkes, in 1961 and they were married in 1962. In 1965 Eric rededicated his life to Christ and served at Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Philadelphia, PA under the pastorate of the late Rev. Benjamin Smith, Sr. Together Eric and Vernell became active members of Deliverance in its early days at 17th and Venango Streets. As a passionate Bible teacher at Deliverance, Apostle Ricks along with Rev. Marcellus Martin and Tyrone Chappel were key at the inception of Bible classes while the church was still located at 17th and Venango.
Beginning of the Pastorate
Following up on revival services by Pastor Smith at the High Street Theater in Burlington, New Jersey in 1971, Eric and Vernell, along with several other members from the home church in Philadelphia, led a series of evangelistic crusades and Bible studies that resulted in dozens of teenagers and young adults getting saved. To disciple the new converts, Eric and Vernell along with the home church team made weekly trips to New Jersey to nurture them through home Bible studies and prayer meetings. Many older saints who had been praying for evangelism to come to the area opened their homes for the weekly Bible study and prayer meetings. As the Lord continued saving more and more souls through the ministry, Eric was led to establish Deliverance Evangelistic Church of Burlington, New Jersey in 1972. The church’s early services were held in homes of the saints, followed by services in Millbrook Elementary School in Willingboro, New Jersey. When the congregation outgrew that space, the Lord blessed them to acquire their first church building, located at 909 Bordentown Road in Burlington, New Jersey. The church thrived and became a beacon of light in the community through its strong evangelistic efforts, all-night prayer services, Bible courses, seminars and men’s, women’s and youth annual retreats. After more than 20 years at that location, the Lord gave Pastor Ricks and the church leadership the vision for Faith Center, a multi-phase project still in progress today. The church name changed to Faith Deliverance Worship Center and moved to 1304 Route 130 in Burlington.
As Founder and Pastor his vision was for a wholistic ministry that he described with the acronym SAVE—Spiritual, Academic, Vocational, and Economic development and empowerment. He believed Christians needed to be well-rounded in all areas of their lives, not just in spiritual matters. Throughout his 43 years of service as Pastor, one of his greatest desires was to ensure his membership (as well as anyone he came in contact with) was empowered through knowledge and understanding of the Word of God…but more importantly that they LIVED by it. He was a pastor that did not allow “flesh on parade”. If you were not living right, and you were in ministry, Pastor Ricks had no problem meeting with you in the “UPPER ROOM” for spiritual discipline. He sought for his members to not only know how to rightly divide the Word of Truth, but also how to rightly maintain their personal finances, how to practice discipline in their lives away from church, to obtain and maintain meaningful employment, encouraging higher education and entrepreneurship. He wasn’t afraid to bring in other powerful preachers of the Word, like John Perkins, author of many outstanding books, including Let Justice Roll Down. Pastor Ricks led by example, continuing his own spiritual maturation by studying and receiving a Certificate in Ministry from the Center for Urban Theological Studies (CUTS) in Philadelphia in 1978. He went on to eventually teach at CUTS for several years, during which time he developed the course Spiral of Ministry. He also served on the Board of CUTS for a period of time as Chairman of the Board of Directors. He was instrumental in establishing the relationship between CUTS and Geneva College. That partnership was key to CUTS becoming an accredited educational institution that offers Associate and Bachelor degrees.
The Lord saw fit to elevate Pastor Ricks to the office of Apostle in 2005, and confirmed it through the leadership of ministers of the gospel that included the esteemed Apostle John Eckhardt.
Eric and Vernell served in various Christian organizations and preached on foreign mission fields, that took them to Jamaica, Haiti, and Ghana, West Africa. Their ministry included teaching family enrichment seminars, ministering at various leadership conferences and church development workshops. His passion to help young pastors succeed led him to mentor hundreds of men and women across the nation and around the world, many of whom were members of other churches. Ephesians 4:11,12 -“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,” Even after retiring in 2015 from the full-time Pastorate, he followed the Lord’s leading to the next phase of ministry as a Christian apologist and mentor with the mandate: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen." (Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV).
One of his favorite scriptures was Proverbs 3:5-7, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path. Be not wise in your own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil."
He will forever be remembered as a fiery preacher of God’s Word, a dynamic teacher of the scriptures and compassionate brother you could count on to give you good counsel, who loved the Lord with all his heart, mind and soul. Many pastors will miss him being a confidante, the voice of reason, and a general in the army of the Lord.
Our Lord saw fit to call his beloved son home from labor to reward on the morning of Friday, June 25, 2021.
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2Timothy 4:7-9)
He leaves to cherish his memory and legacy: his loving wife of 58 years, whom he absolutely adored, Rev. Vernell Ricks, one daughter Elizabeth Modupe, three grandchildren: Timothy Moment, Alisha Moment and Amir Moment; one very dear nephew. John Wesley Shuman, his wife, Josette, and six grand nephews and nieces along with many great-grand nephews and nieces; four sisters-in-law; three brothers-in-law; a host of other relatives; godchildren Faith Anderson Woodward and Aaron Brokenborough; and one very special son in the Lord, Bishop Michael O. Brokenborough, Senior Pastor of Household of Faith Deliverance Worship Center in Ardmore, Pennsylvania; and a heartbroken church family, the members of Faith Deliverance Worship Center, Burlington, New Jersey under Pastor Linda M. DeSeignora, whom he named his successor upon retiring; one very special daughter in the Lord, Pastor Staci Williams, Garden of Prayer, Pemberton, New Jersey, along with a host of close friends in the ministry and past members who live near and far. He was preceded in death by his only sister, Elaine Shuman.
Celebration Services will be held, Saturday, July 10, 2021 10am at the Deliverance Evangelistic Church, Lehigh Ave. Phila. Pa
Viewing 8am-11am. Community, family and friends may also view Friday, July 9, 2021 5pm-8pm at the Faith Deliverance Worship Center, 1304 Rt. 130 N. Burlington, NJ. Service to the family by TL Hutton Family& Friends Funeral Services, Burlington, NJ
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