Lay Leadership


2018 Lay Leader Election Results

The Nominating Committee is proud to announce the elected lay leaders from the 2018 Elections, listed alphabetically. Please welcome your newly elected leaders to their new roles in our community:

Church Council
Dr. Kurt Karandy Adams
Rev. Dr. Alan Bentz-Letts
Dr. Frank A. Nelson
Dr. Challon Perry
Christian M. Rojas

Budget & Planning Committee
Michael Ellis
Allen W. Kratz
Lakeisha McCoy

Education Commission
David Jensen
Charmae Lewis
Rueben Martinez
Adelaide E. Sackeyfio
Robin Veenstra-VanderWeele

Membership Care & Parish Life Commission
Danielle Aviles-Griffin
Carolyn Bland
Stefany Blyn Jacobs
Patricia Pell
Hillary Puckett
LaSonya Thompson
Dr. Hsien-yu Wang

Mission & Social Justice Commission
Victoria Anderson
Sumati Devadutt
Karen Diggs
Jeremiah K. Drake
Jocardo Ralston

Nominating Committee
Kevin Bentley
Eleanor (Nora) Campbell
Una Tapper

Worship Commission
Becca Kesting
Anna Meyer
Diana Solomon-Glover
Michael Winger

Appointment to Church Council
Rueben Martinez – Education Commission

Church Council Officers

On May 24, 2018, the Church Council elected the following officers at its meeting:

Chair: Brad Jones
Vice Chair: Marilyn Mitchell
Secretary: Mary Biggs
Treasurer: Jean Schmidt
Chair, Budget & Planning: Len Leach

2017-18 Lay Leadership

2017-18 Lay Leadership Directory (PDF)

Church Council – 2017-18

Brad Jones, Chair
Marilyn Mitchell, Vice Chair
Phil Salmon, Treasurer
Mary Biggs, Secretary
Jean Schmidt
Jesse Wilkins*
Dr. Frank A. Nelson*
Lisa Hinds-Salmon*
Beth Ackerman*
Ed Lowe
Rick O’Keefe
Len Leach
Christian M. Rojas*
Howard Sanders
Jan Powell, Worship
Desi Ruiz, MSJ
Jerome Hairston, MCPL
Barbara Mellor, Education*

*Council members whose terms are ending

Areas of Elected Service 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: Attorney, accounting/finance/investment, 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.