Born in Concord, North Carolina, Reverend Dr. Ricky D. Helton was reared just a few miles away in Charlotte, North Carolina. He matriculated in the Charlotte school system and graduated from the Independence High School in 1979. After High School, he was accepted into North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham, North Carolina where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1983. Immediately following this, Rev. Helton applied and was accepted into Duke University's Theological Seminary where he completed a Master of Divinity degree in 1986. Not resting upon these academic achievements, Rev. Helton then enrolled into Hartford Theological Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut where he completed a Doctor of Ministry degree in 1992. In 1993, Rev. Helton was accepted into Yale Divinity School for Post Doctoral Studies to further pursue Black Church history. However, he was transfered to his next assignment in Grambling, LA before he could finish the academic program.
Rev. Ricky Helton's Christian experience began at an early age. He accepted the call into ministry at the age of seventeen during his 12th and final year in High School. In college, he headed the largest student lead Christian organization on campus for two years. He began pastoring immediately following his graduation from NCCU in 1983 at the Sweet Springs CME church in Holly Springs, North Carolina. His tenure there lasted four years. During those four years as pastor of Sweet Springs CME church, Rev. Helton also was a Campus Minister at Duke University for two years and also a certified Chaplain at Duke University Medical Center. In 1987, he transferred to Russell Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut where he led a successful church rebuilding program after a fire devastated the church. Rev. Helton remained in Bridgeport for seven years until he was transferred to the Lewis Temple CME church in Grambling, LA in August of 1994. While in Grambling, Rev. Helton paid off and burned the mortgage of the church, worked with the NAACP, served on the Board of Directors for the United Campus Ministries of Grambling State University and was involved in several community projects to enhance the city of Grambling, LA. Along with his pastoral duties, Rev. Helton found time to lend his skills to serve as an Adjunct Professor in the Earl Lester Coles' Honors College at Grambling State University for 10 years—from 1995-2005. He also served as an Adjunct Instructor at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) Extension Program and served as an Instructor at Wiley College. He also served on CORA’s (The Commission On Religion in Appalachia) Executive Board.
In July 2007, Rev. Helton was transferred to Israel Metropolitan Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, DC (est. in 1820--the oldest African American Free Church in DC existing now for 200 years) where he currently is serving as Senior Pastor. As of 2020, he has the longest tenure in the history of Israel Metropolitan CME Church, having served 13 years as the Senior Pastor. Under his administration, the Church has hosted the New York-Washington Annual Conference twice (2010 & 2013); paid off the mortgage on the parsonage; hosted two Black Methodist United Meetings; established the ‘Casting the Net’ Prayer Ministry which prays 3x a day – 6 days a week; successfully completed major renovations of the church that is scheduled to be completed by the end of May 2020 at a cost of nearly 1 million dollars; reinstituted the Lyceum Lecture Series at Israel Metropolitan Washington, DC which is a major lecture series regarding the state of the black church and served as President & Treasurer of the Washington Area CME Ministerial Alliance.
He has been married to Loretta Shaw Helton for nearly 34 years. They have three lovely daughters and one son-in-law--Crystal Faith (Julian), Candice Hope and Chloe Love. They are expecting their first grandchild in June 2020.