May 2020 RDC Update

An Update from the Riverside Development Committee

Revelation 21:4-5 says: ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

We pray you are well and safe. As Riverside Church reflects on its rich 90-year history, we prayerfully seek to envision what the Next 90 years of our vibrant community will look like. To that end, we are continuing the work of developing a plan that combines money with mission and achieves both social justice objectives and financial sustainability. We’re pleased to provide our latest updates as we march forward towards delivering a plan to the congregation by the end of 2020:

Sunday, May 17, 2020
During Coffee Hour (Online Only)

The Riverside Development Project is an endeavor put in place by the Church Council to engage the Riverside community and help facilitate a path towards sustainability. The congregation, and staff of Riverside as well as the communities serviced by our church, needs to have a voice in these efforts. Many of you may have questions about the history, purpose and next steps of Riverside’s Development Committee and our role in the Project. So, we’ve created a forum for you to engage, ask questions and share ideas. Please join us for the kickoff of “Ask RDC” Sunday, May 17 after the main service, during coffee hour (online only). We will begin having regular dialogues with you, the Riverside community, to collect your feedback and flesh out a plan that addresses our most pressing needs while driving sustainability that aligns money with mission.


Join members of our community as we re-imagine and discuss how we might use social enterprise to address big justice issues we face in our city such as health disparities, hunger and poor nutrition, lack of job inequality, lack of affordable housing, mass incarceration, and more.

Sunday, May 31
Main Service and Talkback (Online Only)

We are thrilled to announce the Sam Wells will be virtually visiting The Riverside Church to talk with us about the principles of social enterprise and how they can be integrated into the life and mission of the church. Rev. Dr Sam Wells has been Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields since 2012. He has served as a parish priest for 20 years – 10 of those in urban priority areas. He also spent 7 years in North Carolina, where he was Dean of Duke University Chapel. Sam is also Visiting Professor of Christian Ethics at King’s College, and a member of the Multi-Stakeholder Council that advises the G20 meetings. He is a regular contributor to Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4’s Today program. He has published 30 books, including works on Christian ethics, ministry, liturgy, and preaching.

We kicked off our monthly Next 90 Speaker Series in February with Pastor Jonathan Brooks, “Pastah J”, senior minister of Chicago’s Canaan Community Church. Pastah J, led a dynamic session where he outlined the steps Canaan took to become a sustainable community church. If you were not able to attend, no worries, you can view the replay here.

And in April, in celebration of Earth Day, the Development Committee teamed up with Riverside’s Beloved Earth community to invite Rev. Jim Antal, denominational leader, climate activist, author and public theologian, to Riverside’s virtual pulpit. He serves as Special Advisor on Climate Justice to the General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. Please enjoy his sermon here.


The Real Estate Assessment Subcommittee is continuing its research into the possible uses of Riverside’s two block campus. The Subcommittee recently hired a firm to perform a zoning study. This study provided the possibilities for development of our campus. In addition, the subcommittee is also in the process of commissioning a Property Condition Report to determine the condition of McGiffert Hall and the costs of upkeep and repair. This report will give us guidance for the future development of our campus, both near term and long term. Additionally, to assist the church in understanding the possibilities for our two block campus, the Real Estate Assessment Subcommittee is currently interviewing real estate professionals who can guide us through the process of developing and narrowing the possibilities for development of the property in coordination with staff and the congregation.