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.


Download the 2023-2024 Lay Ministry Booklet

2024-25 Lay Leadership Election Results


Jean Schmidt


Mojubaolu Okome


Arthur Doyle

Tawanna Huguley

Sally Riddles

Marion Conteh


Sandra (Chap) Chapman


Mark Riddles

Charles Semowich

Download the 2024 Lay Leadership Candidate Booklet here to learn more.

Areas of Elected Lay Leadership at Riverside

Church Council

Description: The Church Council has overall responsibilities for the program, policy, property and all temporal affairs of the Church, subject to the authority of the Congregation. The members of the Church Council are deacons of the Religious Society, and assist the ministers of the Church in advancing the spiritual welfare of the Church. They are also trustees of the Religious Corporation, with the powers, duties and responsibilities of trustees under the Religious Corporations Law of the State of New York. Members of the Church Council shall have fiduciary responsibilities for the Church, and their actions shall, at all times, be informed by the mission of the Church and the spiritual needs and concerns of the Congregation.

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: It shall identify within the membership of the Church persons with leadership qualities and persons with talent and experience needed by various Commissions, Committees, etc. for possible service to the Church and shall give the names of such persons to the Appointments Committee and the Church Council; clarify, administer and assure the integrity of the processes and procedures to elect Church officers and lay leaders; prepare candidate slates that reflect the diversity of the membership of the Church for all elective Church offices; and formulate for congregational approval amendments to the By-laws regarding the nomination of candidates for Church office and the election, including, but not limited to, candidate eligibility requirements, including membership, pledging, re-election and office qualification criteria. It shall also implement procedures for handling and identifying candidates for Church office maintained by petition; voter eligibility requirements and balloting procedures; and policies regarding the filling of interim vacancies, and such other rules and procedures not inconsistent with these By-laws.

List of Desired Skills/Duties:
– Openness to speaking with Riverside congregants 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 Riverside congregants 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 Membership, Care, and Parish Life 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, Antiracism Taskforce, Beloved Earth C​ommunity, Black Lives Matter, Ecclesia Ministry, Latinos/as at Riverside, Maranatha – Riverside’s LGBTQ Ministry, Lift Every Voice and Vote, Men’s Class, Poor People’s Campaign, Prison Ministry, Sojourners, South Africa/Cuba Support Group, Theatre of the Oppressed and Wellbotics.

List of Desired Skills/Duties:
– Demonstrated passion for justice.
– 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: The Budget and Planning Committee shall establish and administer procedures for evaluating the programs of the Church; organize and coordinate a process for planning the programs of the Church and establishing goals and priorities to accomplish the Church’s mission, as embodied in its Mission Statement, including an annual planning retreat for laity and staff; and monitor and report to the Church Council and the Church at its Annual Meeting on the extent to which the programs of the Church are achieving the Church’s stated goals and priorities.

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.

2023-24 Elected Lay Leadership

Clarence Anderson (Chair)
Lee Sartain (Secretary)
Rueben Martinez (Treasurer)
Angela Aidala
Victoria Anderson (Rep: MSJ)
Lakeisha Aquino
Jerome Hairston

Annie Meredith (Rep: MCPL)
Lisa Kathryn Hinds-Salmon
Ernest Jones
Len Leach
(Chair, Budget & Planning)
David Orcutt (Rep: Worship)
Judy Turnock
Christian Rojas
Henry Williams

Staff Liaisons
Rev. Adriene Thorne, Natalie Fein (Chief Operating Officer)

Email the Church Council

Updates from the Church Council

Chiara Fuller (Chair)
Robin Veenstra-VanderWeele (Vice Chair & New Members Rep)
Luvon Roberson (Secretary & Education Rep)
Hylda Clarke 
Reginald Evans
(Rep: Buildings & Grounds)
Jonathan Favor-Grimes
(Rep: Nominating Committee)
Debra Lily (Rep: Scholarship)
Brian O’Dell (Rep: Church Council)
Mark Wallace
Julian Wharton

Staff Liaisons
Rev. Amanda Meisenheimer, Rev. Dr. Colleen Birchett (Curriculum Development)


Karen Diggs (Co-Chair & Nominating Rep)
Patricia Pell (Co-Chair & Social Services Rep)
Annie Meredith (Secretary & Church Council Rep)
Marion Conteh (Social Services Rep)
Bryant Harris
Laura Miraz (Budget & Planning Rep and Institutional Relations Rep)
Aida Montero (Buildings & Grounds Rep)
Jocelyn Selene Perry

Staff Liaison
Rev. Lynn Casteel Harper


Pamela Davis (Chair, Budget & Planning Committee Rep)
Derrick Biney-Amissah (Vice-Chair & Building Committe Rep)
Gary Bogle (Secretary & Nominating Committe Rep)
Milly Akinsulure
Victoria Anderson (Rep: Church Council)
Sumati Devadutt
Lissa Dodington
Rainer Engelken
Arelis Figueroa
Janette Kemp
David King
Susan Walcott

Staff Liaison
Rev. Mira Sawlani-Joyner

David Vaughn (Chair)
Alexa Donaphin (Vice Chair & Budget & Planning Rep)
Karissa Garner (Rep: Nominating Committee)
Irene King (Rep: Stewardship)
Zachary Tyler Newton (Rep: Building Committee)
Douglas Miller
Patricia McClure
David Orcutt (Rep: Church Council)
Robbie Patterson

Staff Liaisons
Rev. Adriene Thorne, Rev. Lisa Weaver & Rev. Charlene Wingate

Len Leach (Chair, Church Council)
Clarence Anderson
Lakeisha Aquino
Alexa Donaphin
Rueben Martinez
Andre Nakashian
Pat Pell

Jean Schmidt
German Soto

Staff Liaisons
Natalie Fein (Chief Operating Officer), Rich Glassey (Director of Operations), Matthew Kerner (Director of Finance)

Abosede George (Chair)
Beth Wynne-St. Louis (Vice Chair)
Glenessa Gordon
Imelda Isles
Patricia Ali

Staff Liaison
Rev. Adriene Thorne

Jerome Hairston (Chair)
Angela Aidala (Rep: Church Council)
Don Bickford (non-voting member)
Henry Williams (Rep: Church Council)

Staff Liaison
Matthew Kerner (Director of Finance)

Christian Rojas (Chair)
Lakeisha Aquino
Desiree Baxter

Derrick Biney-Amissah
Ken Cummings

Ken Eisner
David King
Linda LeShanna
Barbara Mellor
John Slorance
Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele

Henry Williams

Staff Liaisons
Natalie Fein (Chief Operating Officer), Rich Glassey (Director of Operations), Shanniel Morrison (Property Manager)

Clarence Anderson (Chair, Church Council)
Rueben Martinez (Treasurer, Church Council)
Lee Sartain (Secretary, Church Council)
Victoria Anderson (Rep: Commissions)

Staff Liaison
Rev. Adriene Thorne

Lisa Kathryn Hinds-Salmon  (Chair)
Clarence Anderson
Rueben Martinez

Staff Liaison
Matthew Kerner (Director of Finance)

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

Staff Liaison
Rev. Adriene Thorne

Clarence Anderson
Ernest Jones (At Large Council Member)

Staff Liaisons
Rev. Adriene Thorne, Pablo Molgora (Director of Human Resources)

Clarence Anderson
Len Leach
Geoff Martin
Mark Yim

Staff Liaison
Rev. Adriene Thorne

Ernest Jones (Chair & Church Council Rep)

Hylda Clarke (Rep: Education)
Marion Conteh (Rep: MCPL)
Pam Davis (Rep: MSJ)
Chris Doyle
Jacqueline Hopkins
Irene King (Rep: Worship)
Will Nichols
Pat Pell (Rep: MCPL)

Staff Liaison
Natalie Graves Tucker (Director of Communications and Development)

2023-24 Elected Lay Leadership (Terms)

These are the elections listed by terms:

Church Council

  • Clarence Anderson (2nd term)
  • Lisa Hinds (1st term)
  • Ernest Jones (1st term)
  • Christian Rojas (1st term)
  • Lee Sartain (2nd term)
  • Henry Williams (1st term)

Education Commission

  • Debra Lilly (1st term)
  • Brian O’Dell (2nd term)
  • Mark Wallace (1st term)
  • Julian Wharton (1st term)


Membership, Care, and Parish Life Commission

  • Bryant Harris (1st term)
  • Laura Miraz (1st term)
  • Aida Montero (2nd term)
  • Jocelyn Perry (1st term)


Mission and Social Justice Commission 

  • Derrick Biney-Amissah
  • Pamela Davis (2nd term)
  • Arelis Figueroa (1st term)
  • Janette Kemp (1st term)
  • David King (1st term)
  • Susan Walcott (1st term)


Worship Commission

  • Alexa Donaphin (2nd term)
  • Karissa Garner (1st term)
  • David Vaughn (2nd term)
  • Mark Yim (1st term)


Budget & Planning Committee 

  • Andre Nakashian (2nd term)
  • Jean Schmidt (1st term)


Nominating Committee

  • Pat Ali (1st term)
  • Glenessa Gordon (2nd term)
  • Beth Wynne-St. Louis (2nd term)