Lay Leadership

Lay Leadership is the heartbeat of The Riverside Church. As a congregational church the various commissions and committees lead the way as we aspire to embody the love and justice of God in our neighborhood, across the nation, and around the world.

2021 Update & Election Results

The Nominating Committee is proud to announce the elected lay leaders from the 2021 Elections, listed alphabetically. All terms for newly elected candidates end in 2024. Please welcome your newly elected leaders to their new roles in our community.

Church Council
• Angela Aidala
• Challon Perry

Budget and Planning Committee
• Michael Ellis

Education Commission
• Jonathan Favor-Grimes
• Robin Veenstra-VanderWeele

Membership Care and Parish Life Commission
• Marion Logan Conteh
• Pat Pell

Mission and Social Justice Commission
• Sumati Devadutt
• Lissa Dodington
• Rainer Engelken

Worship Commission
• Meghann Vaughn

Commission Representatives to the Church Council
• Jennifer James Soto (Education)


Church Council Appointments & Reorganization Announcement

Upon the recommendation of the Nominating Committee, Church Council at its reorganization meeting on May 24, 2021 voted to appoint Rick O’Keefe and David Orcutt to fill two vacant positions on Church Council.  Those terms will run for one year, until the next Annual Meeting in May, 2022.

Also joining Church Council as a result of the congregation’s election at the conclusion of the May 16 Annual Meeting were Angela Aidala, elected by the congregation, and Jennifer James Soto, who the congregation affirmed as the representative of the Education Commission.  The congregation also re-elected Challon Perry to serve on Church Council.

During its reorganization meeting, Church Council elected the following officers:

• Chair:  Phil Salmon
• Vice Chair:  Geraldine Howard
• Treasurer: Clarence Anderson
• Secretary:  Allen Kratz

Serving with them on Church Council’s Executive Committee will be Hillary Puckett. She serves on Church Council as the representative of the Membership, Care and Parish Life Commission.  Her Program Commission colleagues on Church Council selected her to serve on their behalf on the Executive Committee.

Church Council also elected David Orcutt to serve as chair of the Budget & Planning Committee.

Additionally, new Council Chair Phil Salmon has made the following Chair appointments:

• Audit Committee:  Marilyn Mitchell
• Building Committee:  Rick O’Keefe
• Finance Committee:  Howard Sanders
• Personnel and Salary Committee:  Geraldine Howard
• Stewardship & Development Committee:  TBD

2020-21 Elected Lay Leadership

Note: Updated Commission/Committee membership rosters for 2021-22 coming soon.

Marilyn Mitchell (Chair)
Philip Salmon (Vice-Chair)
Allen Kratz (Secretary)
Christen Walker-James (Treasurer)
Clarence Anderson
Alan Bentz-Letts
Patrice Harrington

Geraldine Howard
Karen McVoy
Eugene Melino
Frank Nelson

Challon Perry (Budget & Planning Chair)
Christian Rojas
Howard Sanders
Rueben Martinez (Rep: Education)
Hillary Puckett (Rep: MCPL)
Victoria Anderson (Rep: MSJ)
Jesse Wilkins (Rep: Worship)

Staff Liaison
Rev. Michael Livingston

Email the Church Council

Updates from the Church Council

Rueben Martinez (Chair)
John Slorance (Secretary)
Charlene Wingate 
Raydale Blaylock-Shand
Hylda Clarke
Chiara Fuller
Bryant Harris
Jennifer James Soto
David Jensen

Charmae Lewis
Robin Veenstra-VanderWeele
Martha Wiggins

Staff Liaison
Rev. Bruce Lamb

Hillary Puckett (Chair)
Carolyn Bland
Stefany Blyn Jacobs
Millicent James
Elizabeth Figueroa

Danielle Hartley
Patricia Pell 
LaSonya Thompson
Hsien-yu Wang
Rosalyn Witter

Staff Liaisons
Rev. Debra Northern and Rev. Bruce Lamb

Sumati Devadutt (Chair)
Frances Connell (Vice-Chair)
Susan Wersan (Secretary)
Victoria Anderson
Michael Barnes
Derrick Biney-Amissah

Pam Davis

Jeremiah Drake
Linda Fentiman
Carol Fouke-Mpoyo
Karen Sawyer-Barro

Staff Liaison
Rev. Kevin VanHook

Jesse Wilkins (Chair)
Patricia Ali
Alexa Donaphin
Arelis Figueroa

Robbie Patterson
David Vaughn
Meghann Vaughn
Michael Winger

Staff Liaisons
Rev. Michael Livingston, Christopher Johnson, Carrie Quarquesso

Challon Perry (Chair & Church Council)
Frank Nelson (Church Council)
OPEN (Church Council)
Caroline Bland (Rep: MCPL)
Sumati Devadutt
(Rep: MSJ)
Michael Ellis
Lakeisha McCoy
Andre Nakashian
German Soto
Charlene Wingate (Rep: Education)

Staff Liaison
Rich Glassey (Director of Operations), Matthew Kerner (Director of Finance)

Abosede George (Chair)
Carol Fouke-Mpoyo
Glenessa Gordon
Imelda Isles
Beth Wynne-St. Louis
Allen Kratz (Rep: Church Council)
Elizabeth Figueroa (Rep: MCPL)
Charmae Lewis (Rep: Education)
Patricia Ali (Rep: Worship)

Staff Liaison
Rev. Michael Livingston

2020-21 Appointed Lay Leadership Positions

Mary Biggs (Chair)
Karen McVoy (Rep: Church Council)
OPEN (Rep: Church Council)
Don Bickford (non-voting member)
Patrick Mouton (non-voting member)

Staff Liaison
Matthew Kerner (Director of Finance)

Christian Rojas (Chair)
Desiree Baxter
Derrick Biney-Amissah
Ken Eisner
Patrice Harrington
Linda LeShanna
Karen McVoy
Barbara Mellor
John Slorance
Rosalyn Witter
Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele

Staff Liaison
Rich Glassey (Director of Operations)

Marilyn Mitchell (Chair, Church Council)
Phil Salmon (Vice-Chair, Church Council)
Christen Walker-James (Treasurer, Church Council)
Allen Kratz (Secretary, Church Council)
Hillary Puckett (Rep: Commissions)

Staff Liaison
Rev. Michael Livingston

Howard Sanders (Chair)
Marilyn Mitchell (Rep: Church Council)
Phil Salmon (Rep: Church Council)

Staff Liaison
Matthew Kerner (Director of Finance)

Sandy Thomas (Chair)
Geraldine Howard
Eugene Melino
Martha Wiggins
Geoff Martin
Jo Cameron
David Vaughn

Staff Liaison
Rev. Michael Livingston

Geraldine Howard (Chair)
Eugene Molino
Rick O’Keefe
Forrest Taylor
Sandy Thomas
Joanne Toran

Staff Liaison
Sarah Brown (Director of HR)

Marilyn Mitchell (Chair, Church Council)
Phil Salmon (Vice-Chair)
Geraldine Howard (Personnel and Salary)
Challon Perry (Budget and Planning)
Jesse Wilkins (Worship)
Rick O’Keefe
Geoff Martin

Staff Liaison
Rev. Michael Livingston

Alan Bentz-Letts (Chair)
Michael Barnes (Rep: MSJ)
Stefany Blyn Jacobs (Rep: MCPL)
Hylda Clarke (Rep: Education)
Robbie Patterson (Rep: Worship)
Jacqueline Hopkins
Janette Kemp
Lee Sartain

Henry Williams

Staff Liaison
Meighan Corbett (Director of Stewardship and Development)

Areas of Elected Lay Leadership at Riverside

Church Council

Description: The Church Council has oversight responsibility for all affairs of the Church – temporal and spiritual. The Council has fiduciary responsibility and sets policies. Each Council member is also appointed to at least one of the following standing committees: Audit, Budget and Planning, Building, Finance, Communications, Institutional Relations, Ministerial Relations, Ordination, Personnel and Salary, and Stewardship.

List of Desired Skills/Backgrounds: List of Desired Skills/Backgrounds: accounting, finance/investment, legal, human resources/organizational behavior, educational background, conflict resolution / governance / leadership, non-profit experience, managerial/secretarial, and audit.

Nominating Committee

Description: Administers the overall process for the election of lay leaders, and is responsible for the integrity of Riverside annual election process. The Committee works to ensure that each member included on the slate of candidates:
– Meets stated requirements of elected office.
– Meets qualifications as specified by and for each Commission or Committee.
– Reflects the diversity of Riverside’s membership.
– As necessary, the committee also recommends changes to the Riverside By-Laws.

List of Desired Skills/Duties:
– Openness to speaking with Riversiders about the elected offices available to members.
– Have a welcoming and friendly manner with congregation members, particularly those new to the Riverside community.
– Discerning through listening and open discussions those who would be assets as Lay Leaders.
– Working with Commission leaders as well as Riversiders at large to encourage qualified folk to run for elected office.
– Hold positive attitude towards Riverside Church leadership and speak of the integrity of Nominating Committee and elections.
– Agree to faithfully attend all meetings and volunteer with Sunday morning tabling.
– Willingness to help during the election process including Meet the Candidates and voting counting at the conclusion of the Annual Meeting.
– Organizational and/or secretarial skills.

Membership Care and Parish Life Commission

Description: The Commission accompanies church members on every step of their spiritual journeys. Programs include: Pastoral Care, New Members Class, Barber Training Program, Clothing Service, Faith Development and Spiritual Growth, Food Pantry, Laity Empowerment Series, Shower Project, Spiritual Life Retreat, and Wellness Programs.

List of Desired Skills/Duties: Should have a history of volunteering at Riverside or other organizations, or demonstrate willingness and devotion to carry out the task required for the success of the commission. MCPL Lay Leaders should be able to engage with the purview of ministries our commission supports (Membership, Parish Care, and Parish Life). We welcome members in the profession of trades, law, social services, and the arts.

Education Commission

Description: Oversees the development and implementation of the comprehensive Christian Education Ministry at the Church. Programs include: Sunday Morning Bible Study, Youth and Young Adult programs, English Language Training, Infant and Toddler Nursery programs, and the Scholarship Fund.

List of Desired Skills/Duties:
– Attended or led Adult Bible study at TRC, whether small group or Open Bible study.
– Sat for 1 year on Riverside Committee such as ACEC, Budget & Planning, Ordination, Global Justice & Peace, etc.
– Ability to cast vision as it relates to the direction of the overall congregation’s faith formation and learning experiences.
– A desire to invest in the lives of people of all ages with special attention to children, youth and young adults.
– A willingness to lead the congregation in exploring practices related to spiritual formation and Christian education.
– An appreciation of the various ways in which people who are differently abled might learn or receive information.
– Sensitivity to cultural and racial diversity as it pertains to Christian education and formation.
– A desire to practice servant leadership and humility; a willingness to learn from others even as you lead them.
– Organizational and/or secretarial skills.

Mission and Social Justice Commission

Description: As agents of God’s justice, healing and love, the Mission and Social Justice (MSJ) Commission seeks to transform individuals, communities and systems of racial, social, economic and environmental oppression. MSJ ministries include: African Fellowship, Beloved Earth Community, Black Lives Matter, Coming Home, Ecclesia Ministry, Knitters and Crocheters at Riverside, Latinos/as at Riverside, Maranatha – Riverside’s LGBTQ Ministry, Men’s Class, Movies@Riverside, Prison Ministry, Sojourners, Sharing & Densford Funds, South Africa Support Group, and Theatre of the Oppressed.

List of Desired Skills/Duties:
– Demonstrated passion for justice, evidenced by their life work – either paid or volunteer.
– Ability to communicate how faith in God moves us to act for justice.
– Experience in team building and effective communication in Riverside and/or Harlem and NYC.
– Practiced in creative thinking to achieve positive change.

Worship Commission

Description: Responsible for the worship programs of the Church. It advises on the overall planning of the Sunday services, other worship services, and special services. It consults with the Director of Music on the music program of the Church for Sunday services and for special occasions. Primary among the duties of Worship Commission members is to remember that the Church is a living body, kept alive by responsive and meaningful worship in many forms.

List of Desired Skills/Duties:
– Regularly attend worship services and see it as the core of your involvement at Riverside.
– Be open to all forms of worship – traditional as well as innovative.
– Have imagination in envisioning the depth and richness of worship.
– Be willing to participate in the service as communion servers/preparers, greeters, and liturgical participants on a regular basis.
– Have organizational/secretarial skills.
– Have a positive and supportive attitude toward the leadership of Riverside Church.
– Respect the liturgies and rituals of the church as a primary means of meeting the spiritual needs of all the people.
– Appreciate the power of Word and Sacrament as understood by our affiliated denominations, i.e. ABC and UCC.
– Strive to envision new worship services (grounded in traditional forms of worship) that are responsive to the needs of changing times and diverse worshipers.

Budget & Planning Committee

Description: Reviews and revises the proposed annual operating and capital budgets prepared by Church staff for presentation to the Church Council and the Congregation for approval. The Committee is also responsible for monitoring spending through the year.

List of Desired Skills/Duties:
– Financial background.
– Ability to read and comprehend budget spreadsheets.
– Experience using excel or similar financial programs.
– Managerial/secretarial skills.
– Open to innovative ideas relating to budget planning.
– Committed to the financial health of The Riverside Church.

Senior Minister Search Committee

Information about the Senior Minister Search Committee can be found here.