Send This Page

Riverside Church News RSS Feed
Accepting Nominations for the 2017 James M. Washington Award

The Church Council invites you to submit nominations for the 2017 James M. Washington Award.

The James M. Washington Award commemorates the memory and spirit of the Rev. Dr. James M. Washington, Chair of the Riverside Church Council from May of 1996 until his untimely death in May of 1997 at the age of 49. Dr. Washington, a distinguished Professor of Church History at Union Theological Seminary, believed deeply in congregational service. His patience, good humor, and clear insight into the life of Riverside were admired by all who knew him. His intelligence was unequalled, and he used it to find solutions to intractable problems. He gave willingly of his time and treated all Riversiders with understanding and compassion.

The James M. Washington Award was created to remember his service and to honor his dedication, his profound sense of Christian discipleship and the firm gentleness with which he carried out his fiduciary duties as a lay leader of this Church. This award is given to a lay leader of Riverside Church who has best demonstrated principles of Christian discipleship in his or her services to the Church. The emphasis is on the quality of the service rendered, not the quantity of work accomplished.

The recipient of the award is determined by the Executive Committee of the Council based on nominations from the congregation, lay leaders, and staff of the Church. 

Each nomination should be accompanied by a brief statement explaining how the nominee demonstrated Christian faithful adherence to the Riverside Church leadership covenant, exhibiting “Christian maturity and charity in all endeavors.”  The recipient will be announced in the worship service on May 21, 2017.

Please submit your nominations to Ugochi Onyeukwu by April 16, 2017. If you have any questions or require any additional information, please contact the Senior Minister’s office at 212-870-6774.

2017 Lent at Riverside

Season of Lent Services

Click Here to Download the 2017 Lenten Devotional (PDF)

Wednesday, March 1 - Imposition of Ashes 

12:00-1:30 p.m. in Christ Chapel
All are welcome. Come anytime between 12:00 noon and 1:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 1 - Ash Wednesday Service with Imposition of Ashes
7:00 p.m. in the Nave
All are welcome for our traditional Ash Wednesday Service including the imposition of ashes.

Sunday, March 5 Worship - Everything Must Change: Paradise
10:45 a.m. in the Nave

Sunday, March 12 Worship - Everything Must Change: Home
10:45 a.m. in the Nave

Sunday, March 19 Worship - Everything Must Change: The Past
10:45 a.m. in the Nave

Sunday, March 26 Worship - Everything Must Change: Grief
10:45 a.m. in the Nave

Sunday, April 2 Worship - Everything Must Change: Death
10:45 a.m. in the Nave

Holy Week Services

Sunday, April 9 Palm Sunday Worship - Everything Must Change: Protest
10:45 a.m. in the Nave 

Wednesday, April 12 - Service of Footwashing
7:00 p.m. in Assembly Hall 

Thursday, April 13 - Maundy Thursday and Tenebrae Service
7:00 p.m. in the Nave  

Friday, April 14 - Good Friday Service
12:00-3:00 p.m. in the Nave   

Saturday, April 15 - Easter Vigil
7:00 p.m. in Christ Chapel   

Sunday, April 16 Worship - Easter Services
8:45 & 10:45 a.m. in the Nave 

Harlem Fine Arts Show Returns to Riverside on February 16-19

February 16-19
Click Here for More Information and to Purchase Tickets

Come to the Harlem Fine Arts Show and view art from around the world, which will be on exhibition and for sale. 80 plus artists and galleries from the African Diaspora. Great opportunity for collectors. $25 /$50.

Opening Night - Thursday, February 16
VIP Champagne Toast: 6:00-8:00 p.m. 
Sale & Exhibition: 6:00-10:00 p.m.
Click Here to Purchase Tickets 

A portion of the proceeds benefit the Riverside Community Services Corporation & Delta Sigma Theta Brooklyn Alumnae Chapter. The evening includes live music, hors d'ouerves, and a salute to African Americans in medicine and a Special Achievement award presented to Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III of Abyssinian B.C.

Coming in March: Death, Dying, and the Christian Life: A Lenten Journey

The Season of Lent provides us with a unique opportunity to reflect on our own mortality and explore the ways in which death plays a role in our lives. The Education Ministry invites you to attend a series of four programs designed to help you think critically about the topic of death. Whether you’re interested in what type of legacy you will leave or how our culture interacts with death through the arts, these programs will help you encounter death in a way that leads to a fuller life.

All programs are free and open to the public. 

Living our Passages Well
Thursday, March 9 | 2:00-3:30 pm | 9T | with Rev. Debra Northern and Rev. Lynn Casteel Harper 

Life is full of passages, as we experience transitions throughout our years: birth, relocation, marriage, divorce, illness, job change, retirement, death. As we begin our Lenten journeys, we gather to share our stories and reflect on how we might faithfully live each of life’s passages, especially as we prepare for our final transition: death.  Drawing upon the wisdom of our faith, we seek the strength and courage to make our passages well. 

An Interview with Death
Sunday, March 12 | 1:00-2:00 pm | Assembly Hall | with Rev. Kevin Wright and special guests Chaplain Meredith Lisagor and Jamie Tractenburg, LCSW, ACHP-SW, and Rev. Lynn Casteel Harper 

How do we encounter death in a healthy way? Is it possible to encounter death in such a way that it doesn’t seem so threatening? Join us as we seek answers to these questions and more in a conversation with three professionals who deal with death on a daily basis through chaplaincy, social work, and parish care.  We’ll talk about how a healthy view of death informs our view of things like wills, advanced directives, and end of life concerns.  

What You Leave Behind
Sunday, March 19 | 1:00-2:30 pm | 411 MLK | with Ms. Christian Peele and Ms. Farley Lord

Our Biblical ancestors passed down the blessings of their work, even when they knew they would not experience the fruits of these blessings during their earthly lives. Stewardship & Development will lead a discussion of how we, today, can consider and craft what we will leave behind, trusting that God’s continuing creation honors the past and pulls to the future. Stewardship & Development will share its expertise in the practice of planned giving in the context of all elements of our legacies. 

The Art of Dying
Sunday, March 26 | 1:00-2:30 pm | Assembly Hall | with Rev. Ellen Robison

How have the arts contributed to our understanding of death, dying and loss throughout the centuries? In what ways have artistic expressions such as dance, visual art, music, theatre, film, poetry and literature been used to tell our stories of death and dying. This event will include historical context, live performances and opportunities for hands on creative experiences.

Live Justice Now

Live Justice Now

"Justice is really love in calculation. Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love."
--Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Live Justice Now is a monthly initiative of The Riverside Church's Mission and Social Justice ministries. Each month we will suggest actions that both respond to current events and challenges of our day, and advocate for greater justice for communities most vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.    

Our nation and world are experiencing a great need for truth, justice, and compassion. In response, Riverside is committed to providing faithful Christian witness and action. Please join us as we put our faith to work and follow the words of the prophet who told us what God requires: do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).

For more information about Live Justice Now events and actions from Riverside's Ministry of Social Justice, contact Daniel Conover at

“I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.” --Matthew 25:35

Flint Water Fund Campaign
Riverside is joining American Baptist Churches in Metropolitan New York (ABCMNY) in their year-long commitment to support youth and adults who are most impacted by the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan. In 2014, the lead levels in Flint’s water supply measured ten times higher than the safe level determined by the EPA. As late as Jan 2017, residents were cautioned to filter faucets and drink bottled water. Many children and seniors show signs of irreparable lead poisoning. The long-term impact of this is unfathomable.

Water means life for all of us. Riverside believes that all people are deserving of clear, safe water. Many residents cannot afford to buy the amount of water needed for daily life. Your contribution to “Flint Water” will support life and health for sons and daughters, parents and grandparents in Flint who need our help. Help us meet and exceed our goal of $10,000 during the month of March!
Give online: Select "Other" from the designation line and type in "Flint Water."

Your Words Offer Hope -  Prison Ministry's Letter Writing Initiative
Prisons can be lonely, hopeless, and isolated places. A monthly letter from a compassionate person will offer human interaction, spiritual support, and a bridge to the outside world. Riverside’s Prison Ministry is currently seeking volunteers to support an imprisoned man or woman through regular and supervised communication. You are invited to attend a training session for the Prison Ministry's Letter Writing Initiative on Sunday, March 19, at 1:00 p.m.

Just a short distance from the Statue of Liberty, there are more than 2,000 asylum seekers and other immigration detainees confined in detention centers and county jails. Many have no money to purchase stationery, stamps, or phone cards to be able to contact their families and to seek documentation to prove their fear of persecution and need for the United States’ protection.

Help break their isolation! Please contribute donations of envelopes, writing paper, Forever stamps (domestic), blank notecards with envelopes, and blank two-pocket folders to the “Stamp Out Despair” project of Riverside’s Sojourners Immigration Detention Visitor Program and its partner First Friends of New Jersey and New York. Click here to download a flyer with more information (PDF). You may also contribute toward the purchase of phone cards ($28.75 each and available for purchase only in the detention centers) for these families.

Here's how to donate:

  • Give online. Select "Other" from the designation line and type in "phone card."

  • Make checks payable to The Riverside Church - write "phone card" on the memo line.

  • Drop off your contributions (envelopes/stationary or funds) in Coffee Hour throughout February or leave them at the Security Desk at the Claremont entrance, attention Mission and Social Justice.  

Build Bridges, Not Walls! National Days of Prayerful Action on February 17-20

As people of faith, we must respond with one voice: "Build Bridges, Not Walls!" Together our voices can echo through the halls of Congress. Register today to join with Riverside and people of all faiths in prayerful witness locally in NYC and through the country via vigils, protests, and press conferences outside local Congressional offices. 

Women's March & Contacting Legislators 


The 2017 Grateful Campaign

We're letting gratitude inspire our giving.

The theme of our 2017 giving and serving campaign is Grateful. We’re all grateful for the love, community, and prophetic ministry of our church – and we’re expressing how we feel by giving more than ever before. This year, we’re reaching higher and increasing our financial commitments to the church we love. And, we’re trusting God every step of the way.

If everyone who is able gives $400 more this year than last year, we reach our goal. That’s an extra $33 per month. Are you ready to reach with us?

Whether you call it a pledge, tithe, or contribution, every gift supports Riverside’s ministries in full: our Sunday worship, the children of the Riverside Freedom School, the fearless graduates of Coming Home, the elders of the Tower League, the vibrancy of our social services, and all of the programs that impact thousands of our neighbors every year.

Yes, I’m in for this year’s Grateful campaign. Together, let’s do this!

Click here to Make a Gift Today

Click here for the Open Hands Volunteer Portal

You're Invited to our Quarterly Grateful Gatherings

It’s time to party! Join us immediately after worship in South Hall as we showcase the impact of your giving and serving at The Riverside Church during Riverside’s quarterly Grateful Gatherings on:

  • Sunday, February 5 at 12:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 7 at 12:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 30 at 12:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 29 at 12:30 p.m. 
Come enjoy music, food, and games for the entire family and see for yourself what gratitude-infused giving and serving can do!

For more information, contact Stewardship and Development at or 212.870.6782.

Riverside Marched - Here's Next Steps

On January 21, Riverside joined an estimated 400,000 in NYC, and over 5 million worldwide, to march, speak, and make our voices heard for justice. It doesn’t end here - join us in printing and writing a postcard to our Senators about what matters most to you and how you’re going to continue to fight for it. Download your printable postcard (PDF) or pick one up in worship this Sunday, January 29.

Be sure to bookmark the Women's March website for more information about upcoming actions.

Be on the lookout for more events and actions from Riverside's Ministry of Social Justice.  For more information, contact Daniel Conover at

Riverside Launches Beyond the Dream: Living King's Legacy

Exactly one year before his April 4, 1968 assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood in The Riverside Church to deliver his Beyond Vietnam address against the sins of poverty, racism, and militarism. 50 years after these events, our nation praises King and pays tribute to his dream while we are closer than ever to being torn apart by the evils he gave his life to oppose.

Confronted by the fierce urgency of now, The Riverside Church launched Beyond the Dream:  Living King's Legacy, a year of education and action to call us toward a more just and peaceful society. Beginning with the 50th anniversary of King's Riverside speech on April 4, 2017 and spanning to the 50th anniversary of his assassination on April 4, 2018, Beyond the Dream will be highlighted by major events featuring activists and prominent voices for social justice. Throughout the year, Riverside will distribute multi-media resources and live stream content to open these critical conversations to communities across our nation.

Upcoming Events:

Beyond Vietnam 50th Anniversary Celebration
Tuesday, April 4 at 7:00 pm in the Nave
Free - Click Here to RSVP

Join The Riverside Church, Iliff School of Theology, and Veterans of Hope in a special evening with Michelle Alexander and Ruby Sales on the 50th anniversary of Beyond Vietnam. On April 4, 1967, against the advice of advisors, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr delivered Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence in the Nave of The Riverside Church criticizing the Vietnam War. Written by Dr. Vincent Harding, the speech called on America to address the triple social evils of racism, poverty, and militarism.

2017 MLK Weekend at Riverside

Mayor’s Clergy Advisory Council MLK Weekend Interfaith Service
Sunday, January 15 at 6:00 p.m.:

Sponsored by the Mayor's Clergy Advisory Council, this interfaith service features Rev. Traci Blackmon, preaching. This servicecaps a weekend that honors Dr. King while also asking New Yorkers to share resources that dignify the humanity of all New Yorkers.


Click Here to Watch Live Online

Click Here to Download the Tool Kit

#MLKNOW 2017 Celebration
Monday, January 16 at 2:00 p.m.:

Blackout for Human Rights and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA) host their second annual MLK Now at Riverside. MLK Now is a special MLK Day event to celebrate and honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and explore how his message and vision continue to resonate in today's racial, social and political landscape. Taking place at Riverside - where Dr. King gave his famous 1967 speech, "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence" - the event will feature historic speeches performed by some of today's leading actors and artists. MLK Now 2017 will also include special live music performances and conversations.

If you can't make it to the event, it will be livestreamed - details forthcoming. Presenting and supporting partners for this year's event include PICO National Network,, Magnolia Pictures, Black Lives Matter, Dream Defenders, Color of Change, and ARRAY.

For real-time updates and announcements, follow @UnitedBlackOut and @BMAchievement using the hashtag #MLKNow.

The event is free.  Click Here to RSVP.

Click Here to Watch Live Online

Winter / Spring Small Group Classes

Join a Riverside Church small group this fall! The Education Ministry offers a variety of group experiences that will allow you to study Scripture, engage in theological reflection, and deepen your faith - all in the context of a caring community. 

  • Psycho-Spiritual Aspects of Wellness, Thursdays @ 7:00 p.m. (2/9 to 3/16) • 419 MLK
  • Absolute Beginner’s Biblical Hebrew, Mondays @ 6:30 p.m. (1/23 to 6/5) • 419 MLK
  • Intermediate Biblical Hebrew, Sundays @ 12:30 p.m. (1/22 to 6/4) • 419 MLK
  • Advanced Biblical Hebrew, Sundays @ 2:00 p.m. (1/22 to 6/4) • 419 MLK
  • Now What? From Dream to Reality: A Radical Study of the Book of Acts, Sundays @ 9:30 a.m. (2/5 to 3/12 ) • Meditation Chapel
  • From Nature to Creation: A Christian Vision for Understanding and Loving Our World, Sun @ 9:00 a.m. (2/5 to 3/12) • 416 MLK
  • Half Truths: Things the Bible Doesn't Say, Sundays @ 9:30 a.m. (2/5 to 3/5) • 418 MLK
  • A Religion of Suffering?, Sundays @ 9:00 a.m. (3/5 to 4/9) • 420 MLK
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Testament to Freedom, Sundays @ 9:30 a.m. (3/26 to 5/28) • 418 MLK
  • Being There: A Study of the Life of Jesus, Sundays @ 9:30 a.m. (3/26 to 4/30) • 416 MLK
  • Open Bible Study, Sundays @ 9:30 a.m. (Ongoing every week) • 421 MLK

Click Here for Small Group Classes Brochure (PDF)

Click Here to Register Today!

Riverside's Christmas Eve, Christmas & New Year's Eve Services

Saturday, December 24:

Christmas Eve Service for Children & Families
4:00 p.m. in the Nave | Free | All are welcome
Congregational carols and the tellingof the Christmas story, "Journey to Bethlehem."

Christmas Eve Service of Lessons & Carols
8:00 p.m. in the Nave  | Free | All are welcome

Featuring the Riverside Choir and the Riverside Ringers, with a prelude on the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon at 7:00 p.m.

Click Here to Watch Live

Sunday, December 25:

Christmas Day Worship Service
10:45 a.m. in the Nave  | Free | All are welcome

Click Here to Watch Live

Saturday, December 31:

New Year's Eve Watch Night Service
11:00 p.m. in the Nave  | Free | All are welcome 

With Rev. Kevin Vandiver, preaching. Preceded by carillon and organ recital at 10:00 p.m.

Click Here to Watch Live

New Advent Small Group Classes

Classes Meet December 4, 11 & 18 at 9:30 am - Open to all

This Advent Season, you're invited to join our Education Ministry for one of two new Sunday morning classes: 

“Political Theology: A Politics of Hope for Advent and After the US National Election”with Dr. Andrea White in 430 MLK

Join Dr. White for a discussion on how our theology is inherently political but perhaps not in the way that most people imagine. This group will be meeting in the aftermath of an incredibly contentious election and explore how our theology calls us to a particular type of politics in light of God's presence, love, and revelation in our lives.

Being There: A Study of the Life of Jesuswith Dr. Hsien-yu Wang in 418 MLK

This class will discuss selected events in the life of Jesus core to the Christian story, while working with the power of imagination and reflection to envision what "being there" with Jesus would have been like as he formed relationships with people different than him. Emphasis will be placed on building a bridge from "being there" with Jesus to "being here" at The Riverside Church today.

As If... Advent 2016 at Riverside

This Advent our theme is As If … As a community we will come together to hear again the stories of our faith that call us to imagine a different world is possible and give us the courage to live as if it is coming into being. The devotions in this booklet were written by Riverside members and staff to help us walk through this season with intention. The artwork throughout was lovingly created by our children. Many thanks to all who participated in creating this beautiful Advent devotional.

In these coming weeks, may we live as if hope is greater than despair, as if peace is more courageous than war, as if joy is more abundant than fear, and as if love will always, always conquer hate.

Sunday, November 27
Advent I Worship Service at 10:45 a.m. in the Nave

Sunday, December 4
Advent II Worship Service at 10:45 a.m. in the Nave

Sunday, December 11
Advent III Worship Service with Riverside Church School Christmas Pageant at 10:45 a.m. in the Nave
Service of Hope & Consolation at 6:00 p.m. in Christ Chapel

Sunday, December 18
Advent IV Worship Service at 10:45 a.m. in the Nave
Candlelight Carol Festival at 3:30 & 6:00 p.m. in the Nave

Saturday, December 24
Christmas Eve Service for Children & Families - 4:00 p.m. in the Nave
Christmas Eve Service of Lessons & Carols - 8:00 p.m. in the Nave

Sunday, December 25
Christmas Day Worship Service at 10:45 a.m. in the Nave

Saturday, December 31
Carillon and Organ Recital - 10:00 p.m. in the Nave
New Year's Eve Watchnight Service - 11:00 p.m. in the Nave

Where We Go From Here: Post-Election Letter from Pastor Amy

Dear Riverside Church Family, 

Many of us woke up today afraid, uncertain of our future or what to say to our children. This morning I'm sending you my deep love and a strong reminder that in this dangerous world we must insist on radical love, as Jesus taught us.  

The excruciatingly close election we just lived through has exposed so much pain, anger, and hurt in our country, including the indelible misogyny and racism that runs deep in America. Today now becomes an alarming wake up call to face the deep divides in our country, some of which we have never been able to face with honesty. As a country, the level of soul searching we need to do now is deep, if not deeper, than ever before. We must commit ourselves again to keep working toward justice and reconciliation on every level of American society. 

Today, the Christ Chapel of The Riverside Church will open starting at noon for all who need a place of sanctuary and prayer. Your pastors will be on hand there throughout the day for those who need to talk. Then tonight at 7:00 p.m., join me as we gather for a special Space for Grace worship service in the Nave. 

Though the prospect is increasingly treacherous, insisting on love is the only way to live.  Let's do that together. 

With God's Peace,
Pastor Amy

Watch Live: The Community Gathers for the Worship of God Service on Wednesday, November 9 at 7:00 p.m. EST

Riverside Hosts Screenings of the Documentaries RIKERS and Out of Order


Sunday, November 13 at 1:00 p.m. in the Riverside Theatre:

RIKERS, a film from acclaimed journalist Bill Moyers, is the first documentary to focus exclusively on people formerly detained in New York City's notorious Rikers Island Jail and give them the opportunity to tell their compelling stories, direct to camera. The film captures their vivid memories, revealing the violent arc of the Rikers experience - from the trauma of entry, the extortion and control exercised by other inmates, the oppressive interaction with corrections officers, the frightening beatings and stabbings, the torture of solitary confinement and the psychological challenges of returning to the outside world. Co-sponsored by Jewish Theological Seminary and Union Theological Seminary.

Free, but space is limited. RSVP at

Friday, November 18 at 7:00 p.m. in the Riverside Theatre:

Join the cast and crew of Out of Order for the first East Coast screening of this groundbreaking documentary. The film reveals the complex and painful struggles faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) faith leaders as they confront entrenched bigotry and work to build loving support within their churches.

Screening: 7:00-8:30 p.m.: $10 | Cast & Crew VIP Champagne Toast Reception: 8:30-10:00 p.m.: $20
Click here to purchase tickets to both the Screening and Meet the Cast & Crew VIP Champagne Toast Reception

Riverside Hawks to Host 10th Annual Hope And Hoops Gala on October 18

The Riverside Hawks will host the 10th Annual Hope and Hoops Gala to benefit their non-profit youth basketball and education program on Tuesday, October 18 at 6:30 p.m. in the South Hall of The Riverside Church. This year, the Hawks will honor WNBA Champion Swin Cash, Sportscaster Ahmad Rashād, Founder and Managing Director of Auldbrass Partners Howard Sanders, and Hawks Alumni and NBA Great Kenny Anderson.

"The Riverside Hawks make a huge difference in the lives of so many children academically and athletically," said Tony Hargraves, Riverside Hawks Program Director.  "The generous support from the community for our Hope and Hoops Gala allows us to recognize key contributors to the Hawks family while ensuring excellence and continuing the growth of our programs.  We are appreciative and humbled by the blessings we receive every day."

The gala, the largest fundraising event for The Riverside Hawks, helps to promote athletic achievement, educational excellence, and character development for New York City youths. The event gives the Hawks the opportunity to honor alumni, corporate sponsors, and individuals that have been instrumental to the program and the development of student athletes since 1961.

The success of The Riverside Hawks program is evident, graduating several hundred alumni that have gone on to achieve academic and athletic excellence in college as well as playing professionally in the NBA and overseas. Some former Hawks alumni include Chris Mullin, Tiny Archibald, Kenny Smith, Kenny Anderson, Malik Sealy, Omar Cook, Lamar Odom, Metta World Peace, Elton Brand, and others.

The Riverside Hawks academic and athletic program is a year-round organization for boys and girls in the New York Metropolitan area with the purpose of encouraging excellence in sports that cannot always be taught in a classroom setting. This unique atmosphere and learning environment teaches leadership skills, strong moral character and the value of fair play. Together, this program creates a foundation and support system for young people by giving them the necessary tools needed to ensure success in all their pursuits. The Hawks have a tremendous reputation for supporting academic excellence, with over a 90% college attendance rate, the organization has been nationally recognized. The Hopes for Hoops Gala is a critical event that continues to sustain this life changing organization. Without the support of honorable donations, The Riverside Hawks program would not be possible today. Ticket and auction items are available now at and for any further information about The Riverside Hawks and the Hopes for Hoops Gala please visit

Letter from Pastor Amy - Fall Festivities: God And Guns, Welcome Alice Perkins, More

Dear Riverside Church Family,

It was so wonderful this past Homecoming Sunday to look out from the pulpit and see so many of your smiling faces.  Thank you to all of you who participated in Homecoming and the Festival of Lay Ministries last Sunday.  It was a wonderful day that fully celebrated the richness of our life together!   Friends returned from summer travels, the laughter of our children and Weekday School kids, and all the activity that comes with the launch of fall programs and ministries--there is so much to be excited about this fall!  I wanted to share some exciting things ahead:

This Sunday, October 2 we'll continue the spirit and festivities of Homecoming with our All-Church Picnic.  Join us in Sakura Park immediately after worship for a time of fellowship, games, and lunch.  Main dishes and other essentials will be provided, but we need your help to make the picnic a success!  Please consider bringing a side dish, dessert, or lawn game.  

blessing of the animals 2015

The following Sunday, October 9 at 2:00 p.m. will be our second annual Blessing of the Animals in the Riverside Garth.  All furry friends and family members are welcome.  Please invite your neighbors and friends!  The blessing will happen immediately after our next Congregational Conversation on Change at 1:00 p.m. in Assembly Hall.  

As you all certainly know by now, on October 6-7 Riverside is hosting God and Guns:  Faith Leaders Address Gun Violence.  This is a training for faith leaders from across the country to give them concrete tools for engaging and mobilizing their congregations to combat gun violence.  The training opens Thursday, October 6 at 7:00 p.m. with a screening of The Armor of Light followed by a panel discussion with the filmmaker and subjects, moderated by Dr. Serene Jones.  The screening of this powerful documentary is one of the recommendations to come from our Gun Violence Taskforce.  On Friday, October 7 at 7:30 p.m. God and Guns will close with a service keynoted by Rep. Jim Himes (CT 4th).  Both the screening and service are free and open to the public.  I hope you all will attend.  Be sure to get your tickets at  

Over the summer I wrote to you about Howard Haughton's decision to step down from his position as Chief Finance Officer at Riverside.  We are grateful for Howard's six years of service and are working with him to schedule a Sunday when we can publicly express our deep gratitude for his significant commitment to The Riverside Church.  The work of the church doesn't stop for these changes, though, so it is my pleasure to introduce you to our new Director of Finance and Revenue, Ms. Alice Perkins.  Alice has more than 25 years of finance and management experience. Her extensive background includes her last position held at the Allied Urological Services as a Senior Financial Executive & CFO. Alice also headed the financial operations at Morehouse Medical Associates in Atlanta, Georgia for over 4 years, serving on the executive leadership team and playing an integral part in developing the organization's strategic plan.  Alice received her bachelor's degree at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia and is a practicing CPA. She holds a Master of Banking and Finance from Boston University.  I'm delighted to welcome Alice to our staff team! Please join me in welcoming Alice warmly to our community.

I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday, and eagerly anticipate all the ways in with God will work within, among, and through us this programming year!

With God's Peace,
Pastor Amy

Homecoming is September 25 | All-Church Picnic is October 2

The Riverside Church is gearing up for Homecoming this year on Sunday, September 25. The annual Festival of Lay Ministries happens again in South Hall after worship.

You're invited to the annual all-church picnic on Sunday, October 2 in Sakura Park immediately after worship. Main dishes and other essentials will be provided, but we need your help to make the picnic a success! Sign up to volunteer, or to bring a side dish or dessert, at

Letter from Pastor Amy - Summer Update: Coffee Hour, Staff, Freedom School

Dear Riverside Church Family,

There's no doubt that the long days of summer are here. I hope you're surviving the heat and slowing down, taking some time to rest and enjoy the company of your friends and family. Last week I returned from my annual week-long planning retreat with close colleagues where I planned out sermons and major themes for worship focus in the year ahead. Your Riverside staff team along with committees and commissions have used the slower pace of the summer to dream big about what's ahead, and I'm excited to begin the year this fall.   

coffee hour
If you're in the city this summer you've already begun to see some of the exciting new things so many have worked to dream, imagine, and realize, most recently our brand new coffee hour in South Hall Lobby! At last year's Staff/Lay Leader retreat, congregation members expressed a desire to refresh coffee hour to make it even more warm and inviting. In the spirit of One Riverside, the Warm Welcome Task Force, comprised of lay leaders and staff, has been faithfully at work seeing this vision through. Our new fellowship hour features fair trade coffee, a children's play area, fresh new décor, and more. I've heard from so many of you who, like me, found it to be a wonderful and inviting experience. We even had so many more people come than expected, we ran out of coffee! Thank you to everyone who stayed after worship for coffee hour and helped make our first Sunday a great success. Please keep coming to coffee hour and especially inviting visitors and friends - we'll keep working to make it more and more welcoming, and to make sure there's enough coffee!  

If you were in worship last week, you were also introduced to Rev. Ellen Robison, our new Minister of Worship and the Arts. Selected by a unanimous vote of the search committee, Rev. Robison is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church who most recently served ten years as Minister of Worship and the Arts at Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC. Ellen believes it is in worship that we are formed and transformed to go out into the world to be the people of God, and her presence here with us will only help amplify that fact. Rev. Robison will be our preacher this coming Sunday, August 14, which will help you get to know her even better. It's always a challenge to move to New York, so when you see her in the halls, please be sure to extend a warm Riverside welcome to her.

As we welcome Rev. Robison to our Senior Staff team, we are also preparing to say goodbye to Mr. Howard Haughton. For the last six and a half years The Riverside Church has been blessed to have Howard Haughton on staff, first as our Director of Finance and then as our Chief Financial Officer. Howard has provided our church with critical leadership during a time of transition, shouldering a number of responsibilities with expertise and a tremendous depth of commitment; he has also been an invaluable resource to me as well as a trusted colleague and friend. As we enter a new phase of planning for the future health and stability of The Riverside Church, Howard has decided it is an appropriate time for him to move on to other endeavors. His leadership and presence on our staff will be greatly missed.   

Through Howard's careful management and responsible stewardship over the last six and a half years, we are now in a position to re-imagine the role of financial leadership on our church staff and restructure his duties into a Director of Finance position. Howard will remain with us through mid-September and we look forward to a seamless transition as we bring a new team member on board. In the meantime, please find the time to express words of gratitude to Howard and be on the lookout for plans to celebrate his service.  

freedom school

Lastly, just this week we concluded our first ever Freedom School. Words cannot begin to express my gratitude to everyone who made this tremendous experience possible - Revs. Kevin Vandiver and Kevin Wright, Mandy Meisenheimer and our entire Education Department, our Freedom School interns, our Harambe readers and congregational volunteers, the entire Riverside staff and community that rallied behind them, and those of you who donated generously to make Freedom School a reality. Together, we touched the lives of 50 children in our neighborhood, letting them know that within our walls they can find nurture, encouragement, and love. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

This week I have been invited to be a chaplain at the Chautauqua Institution, and at the end of the month I will be in New Orleans for a few days to help my youngest son Sam move into the dorm for his first semester at college. I wish traveling mercies to all of you who will be on the road in these final weeks of summer and look forward to seeing you when we all come back together in the fall. 

With God's Peace,
Pastor Amy

P.S. - Don't forget to mark September 24-25 on your calendars for Homecoming Weekend!

Small Group Glasses - Fall 2016

Join a Riverside Church small group this fall! The Education Ministry offers a variety of group experiences that will allow you to study Scripture, engage in theological reflection, and deepen your faith - all in the context of a caring community.
  • Hebrew: Introduction to Biblical Languages, Sundays @ 9:30 a.m. (9/18 to 10/2) • 4th Floor MLK
  • Absolute Beginner’s Biblical Hebrew, Tuesdays @ 6:30 p.m. (begins 9/20) • 4th Floor MLK
  • Intermediate Biblical Hebrew, Sundays @ 12:30 p.m. (9/18 to 12/18) • 4th Floor MLK
  • Advanced Biblical Hebrew, Sundays @ 2:00 p.m. (9/18 to 12/18)   4th Floor MLK
  • Women Leaders of the Bible: A Bible Study, Sundays @ 9:30 a.m. (9/25 to 11/13)4th Floor MLK
  • Progressive Christianity: Study of the Writings of Marcus Borg, Sun @ 9:00 a.m. (9/25 to 12/4) • 4th Floor MLK
  • Political Theology, Sundays @ 9:30 a.m. (12/4, 12/11 & 12/18) • 4th Floor MLK
  • How Can a Nation Repent of an Evil Past?, Sundays @ 1:00 p.m. (9/25 to 10/30) • 4th Floor MLK
  • The Psychology of Prayer, Tuesdays @ 7:00 p.m. (9/27 to 11/15) • 4th Floor MLK
  • Being There: A Study of the Life of Jesus, Sundays @ 9:30 a.m. (12/4, 12/11 & 12/18) • 4th Floor MLK
  • Belong, Believe, Become Together: Got Wisdom?, Sundays @ 9:30 a.m. (9/25 to 12/18) • Meditation Chapel
  • Open Bible Study, Sundays @ 9:30 a.m. (Ongoing every week) • 4th Floor MLK
  • Becoming Oneself: A Personal Pilgrimage through Biographical Writing, Sun @ 9:30 a.m. (9/25 to 11/6) • 4th Floor MLK

Click Here for Small Group Classes Brochure (PDF)

Click Here to Register Today!

THE KEY Art Exhibition Comes to Riverside 9/21-11/6; Space for Grace & Opening Reception in the Nave on 9/21

A peacebuilding art exhibition featuring 40 premier and emerging Egyptian, Middle Eastern and Western artists using the world’s most ancient symbol of harmony, the Egyptian Ankh (Key of Life), as a message of hope for a harmonious, peaceful and tolerant world.

At a time when stereotypes and media hype are increasing the ever widening divide between the Middle East and West, THE KEY, a strategic East-West art exhibition, seeks to change misconceptions and speak directly to the global unconscious.

THE KEY, the 2016 CARAVAN Exhibition of Art, uses the world’s most ancient symbol of harmony and pluralism, the Egyptian Ankh (known as the “Key of Life”) as the canvas for a contemporary message of hope for a harmonious, peaceful and tolerant world. THE KEY showcases the work of 40 premier and emerging Egyptian, Middle Eastern and Western contemporary artists using a modern 3D fiberglass portrayal of the Ankh (an ancient Egyptian hieroglyph that read “life”) as a means of engendering harmony and peace among people of different cultural heritages and faith backgrounds.

Designed to grab the imagination, the exhibition will inspire its viewers to realize what is possible and how we can all play a part in shaping our world into one where understanding and compassion are valued above all.

THE KEY was launched in Cairo, Egypt in March 2016 and was then exhibited in London, England at the beautiful Sir Christopher Wren designed St. James’s Piccadilly from June 15 through August 15. Opening on the UN International Day of Peace, THE KEY will be showcased at The Riverside Church from September 21 to November 6, 2016.

A percentage of all artwork sales during the exhibition’s international tour will go to Educate Me, an Egyptian charity providing hope and a future to underprivileged children. THE KEY’s founding sponsor is SODIC, a major real estate firm in Egypt. THE KEY is co-curated by CARAVAN founder and president, Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler, and noted Egyptian artist Dr. Reda Abdel Rahman, who also sculpted the form for the Ankh.


WHERE: The Riverside Church in the City of New York

WHEN: September 21 through November 6, 2016 / Daily 9:00-5:00 p.m. except during worship services and other scheduled events.

OPENING NIGHT: September 21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Nave

Join us on Wednesday, September 21 - the UN International Day of Peace - at 7:30 p.m. in the Nave, for our Wednesday evening worship service, Space for Grace, and the opening of THE KEY. 

Coffee Hour is Moving on Sunday, August 7
Our Coffee Hour fellowship, which happens every Sunday immediately after worship, is moving locations! At last year's Staff/Lay Leader retreat, congregation members expressed a desire to refresh Coffee Hour to make it even more warm and inviting, in the spirit of One Riverside. The Warm Welcome Task Force, comprised of lay leaders and staff, has been faithfully at work seeing this vision through since last fall, and now all we need is you!

Join us for Coffee Hour in our new location in South Hall Lobby beginning Sunday, August 7!

You’ll find fair trade coffee from Javesca Coffee (whose owners will be on hand to talk coffee and work of justice - learn more at, a children's play area, a new Membership Intake kiosk, indoor and outdoor seating, free goodies from local baker Allison Vohn, and fresh new décor.

Please bring a mug from home on August 7 to donate to our Coffee Hour Cupboard of reusable coffee mugs! We’ll see you on August 7 after worship!

Letter from Riverside's Pastors
July 9, 2016

Dear Riverside Church Family,

Tomorrow we will gather for worship with hearts heavy and souls weary. This week the sins of our nation were laid bare again in the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, and Lorne Ahrens. While their names grace the covers of our newspapers, there were many killed this week whose stories were not filmed and whose names we don't know. This is what it's like to live in America today, and it is soul-crushing.

We know too well the sins that are tearing us apart - racism, white supremacy, the idolatry of violence, poverty, hatred, anger, apathy, and so much more. As Christians, we also know that there is a power stronger than all of these, the power of love. And that Jesus calls us, again and again, to summon the courage to live that love with each other for a world so desperate to see love in action.

In a time similar to ours, one of fomenting nights and tear soaked days, Dr. King reminded our nation, "Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

We cannot allow the perpetuation of violence to deter us from our calls for justice. Our nation's original sins of white supremacy and racism are responsible for the shootings in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and Falcon Heights and the violence will not stop until we as a people truly create a culture, for the first time in our history, where black lives matter and where we come together instead of allow fear to destroy us.

Tomorrow we will gather for worship as we always do on Sunday mornings. We will hear the words of scripture proclaimed and share a time of silence together and beg the God of the universe to heal us and to make us bold prophets of the change that must come to our country.

At the end of service, we will light candles to recommit ourselves to being light in this dark night devoid of stars. As your pastors, we know you are feeling the weight of grief and pain and hopelessness too, and we are here for you in whatever way we can be. And as The Riverside Church, we will continue to be a living witness to the grace and hope of community and the power of love to heal the world. We hope you will join us in worship.

With God's Peace,

Pastor Amy Butler, Senior Minister
Rev. Michael Livingston, Executive Minister
Rev. Bertram Johnson, Minister of Justice, Advocacy & Change
Rev. Rachel Johnson, Director of Communications & Public Relations
Ms. Mandy Meisenheimer, Director of Children & Families
Rev. Debra Northern, Minister of Parish Care
Ms. Christian Peele, Director of Stewardship & Development
Rev. Kevin Vandiver, Director of Youth & Young Adults
Rev. Kevin Wright, Minister of Education

God And Guns: Millennial Faith Leaders Address Gun Violence
American faith leaders can end the gun violence epidemic in our country. Whether we hunt on the weekends or have never held a firearm,


Evangelical Christians and mainline Protestants make up 40% of the US and own guns at higher rates than the rest of the country.

The power to change our culture of gun violence is in our pews.

The Riverside Church in the City of New York, along with a growing list of partners will host an intensive training on gun violence for faith leaders of all traditions beginning the evening of October 6 through the evening of October 7, 2016. Designed for millennial faith leaders, a demographic with the capacity to shift our culture, the training is also open to ministry teams of any age that include a millennial attendee. Attendees do not have to agree on the solutions to the epidemic of gun violence, only that something must be done. Attendees will gain concrete tools to educate, engage, and mobilize your congregations to enact change in your community. Each God and Guns 2016 participant will commit to taking concrete action in their circles of influence.

Space is limited!

Following the training, The Riverside Church will provide ongoing support, resources, and reporting mechanisms for attendees. This will help you stay connected and share the work you are doing in your congregations. Space is limited!

The training begins with a free, open to the public screening of "The Armor of Light" on Thursday, October 6 at 7:00PM. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with filmmakers Rev. Rob Schenck, Abagail Disney, and Lucy McBath.



Volunteer to house a participant or work the day of the training

Sponsor an attendee. A donation of $80 will cover the registration cost of one person. All donations are tax deductible.

Sign-Up for Riverside Freedom School Volunteer Opportunities

Posted on Riverside Blog June 07, 2016

Like Riverside Freedom School on Facebook!

We reached our goal to raise $50,000 for Riverside Freedom School, and we surpassed our goal by nearly $20,000.

Fifty children from our neighborhood will attend Freedom School for free and the surplus we raised will support next year's class of Freedom School scholars.

Thank you for your faithful generosity and dedication to our community, justice, and love in action. We are One Riverside!

Watch Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund congratulate The Riverside Church on the creation of the Riverside Freedom School:

Now we need your volunteer support!

Please Click Here to Sign-Up to Volunteer. Please note you will need to create an account and log into Volunteer Spot to sign-up. Opportunities include:

Breakfast Crew
Come join us as we serve our scholars and interns breakfast (already pre-made). This runs from June 29-August 10 from 7:30-9:00 a.m.

Lunch Crew
Come join us as we serve our scholars and interns lunch (already premade). This runs from June 29-August 10 from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Staff Treat Crew
Every week, we will treat our interns to a little “thank you” from The Riverside Church. Will you volunteer to bring treats for the staff right before their debriefing sessions? This runs weekly (on Fridays) from 3:00-3:10 p.m.

Big Trips Crew
Are you interested in lending a helping hand on a field trip? We have limited spots available for chaperoning. Please email Rev. Kevin Vandiver to sign up.

Weekly Supply Shopper
Every week, interns will compile supply lists for their classes based on weekly lesson plans. This volunteer position is open for people who are interested in doing the weekly supply shopping. Riverside Freedom School supplies the funds. This runs once a week for the duration of the camp.

Please Click Here to make a gift to Freedom School today.

Please visit Children’s Defense Fund to learn more about Freedom School.

June Is Pride Month at Riverside
June is Pride Month at Riverside! All are welcome to participate in a variety of fun activities Maranatha has lined up to celebrate Pride's 38th year at Riverside:

Sunday, June 12:

Pride Kick-Off Potluck Picnic at 2:00 p.m. in Riverside Park-Claremont Lawn (behind Grant's Tomb). Bring a dish to share and join Maranatha to celebrate Pride's 38th year at Riverside! Hot dogs and beverages provided by Maranatha. All are welcome.

Wednesday, June 22:

Space for Grace at 7:00 p.m. in Assembly Hall with Rev. Bertram Johnson, preaching, and Stacey Robinson, soloist.

Friday, June 24:

Pastor Amy will speak at NYC Pride 2016's The Rally on Pier 26, which kicks-off at 7:00 p.m. Click here to learn more and purchase tickets.

Sunday, June 26:

Pride Breakfast at 9:00 a.m. in Assembly Hall, with special music, delicious breakfast, and presentation of Scholar Awards.

Worship Service at 10:45 a.m. in the Nave with guest preacher, Rev. Dr. Brad Braxton.

Annual Pride Parade: Join the Maranatha marchers downtown at the beautiful Riverside float, as we celebrate 38 years of participation in the Parade. More information TBA.

Education Ministry: Summer Study Series
Riverside's Education Ministry presents the Summer Bible Study Series, taking take place each Sunday from June 26 to August 21 at 9:30 a.m. in 430 MLK. Each session will be led by a member of the clergy and senior staff, and invite participants to reflect on the lectionary gospel text for the day. All are welcome to attend free of charge.

June 26: Rev. Michael Livingston
July 3: Rev. Kevin Wright
July 10: Rev. Bertram Johnson
July 17: Rev. Dr. Amy Butler
July 24: Rev. Debra Northern
July 31: Rev. Kevin Vandiver
August 7: Ms. Mandy Meisenheimer
August 14: Rev. Rachel Johnson
August 21: Ms. Christian Peele