Category Archives: Featured

Fellowship Amid COVID-19

Dear Church,
I hope and pray this message finds you doing well.

With the continued recommendation from the CDC and local authorities, Riverside’s building will remain closed until further notice. Please do not hesitate to contact our staff should you need anything.

We are continuing to offer our Sunday service virtually. The service will be posted online Sunday morning at 10:00 am along with the bulletin for you to follow along at home.

I wish to share with you an invitation to virtually join together each Sunday at 11:00 am though Zoom. Our hope is that this prayer meeting will allow us to connect, see, and pray with each other. The format of the meeting will allow each person the opportunity to share a bit about how they are doing and how we can pray for them. This format does not allow for multiple individuals to speak at the same time, so I kindly ask you respect the time and one another’s turns. I also encourage you download and register for the Zoom application before Sunday to make sure you have as little difficulty joining as possible.

On Sunday morning, to join the prayer meeting via Zoom please go to the link – https://zoom.us/j/766901652 a little before 11:00 am. Again, please allow yourself enough time to register and launch the Zoom application.

Additionally, if you already have the Zoom application you can find our meet through the meeting ID: 766 901 652

If you do not have a smart phone or video capabilities through your computer, you can dial one of the following numbers and then enter the meeting number when prompted.

  • +13017158592, meeting number 766901652#
  • +13126266799, meeting number 766901652#
  • +16465588656, meeting number 766901652#

As this is our first attempt at such a meeting please be patient with us as we begin this process. It is our hope to continue to meet virtually through Zoom each Sunday at 11:00 am until we are back in person.

With appreciation,

Rev. Nick

Challenging Times

Dear Riverside Family,

I am reaching out today to extend my love and prayers for you and your family during these unprecedented and challenging times. I know many of you are worried about your jobs, your income, and your health. These are scary times for all of us.

Now, perhaps more than ever before, we have an opportunity to trust in God in a new and different way. Won’t you join me in praying for our church community and for our world? If each of us prayed just ten minutes more each day, what an impact our prayers would have on our world!

Let the words of Jeremiah 29:11 comfort you:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.

When anxieties begin to rise, turn off the noise and rest in the promise of God’s word. He is faithful. He is true. And he has your best interests at heart.

This is our promise, and today is our opportunity to live it. As we adjust to our new realities, and the temporary closure of our church home, let’s love and serve one another well through this season. Reach out to those around you who may be alone and fearful. Spend a few minutes on the phone reassuring a neighbor or a friend that God loves and cares for them.

If you need prayer or assistance, please feel free to call our church office at (202) 554-4330. Someone from our pastoral care team will get back in touch with you.

Praying God’s continued blessings over you.

In Christ,

Deacon Laurel

Interim Pastor Announced

Riverside’s deacons and trustees are pleased to announce they have selected Rev. Nicolas Mumejian as an interim pastor for Riverside Baptist Church. Rev. Nick joined Riverside February 2, 2020.

Ordained within the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and in communion with and support of the Alliance of Baptists, Rev. Nick has served in pastoral positions at Baptist churches in North Carolina and Connecticut. Rev. Nick is personally passionate about matters of interfaith relations, ecumenism, reconciliation, and LGBTQIA advocacy. He has organized, led, or participated in religious events at churches, synagogues, mosques, and cultural centers in North America and abroad.

Nick’s academic background includes a Master of Divinity from Duke University and doctoral studies in Hartford Seminary’s joint PhD program with the University of Exeter, which focused on comparative religion. He is is the Managing Editor of The Muslim World, a peer-reviewed academic journal housed in Hartford Seminary’s Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian – Muslim Relations where he has served for over a decade working for both the journal and teaching seminary courses.

Rev. Nick happily spends his time outside of work with his wife, Virginia, and twin sons, Declan and George.

Our Duty

Keep Moving Forward!

As we grieve the departure of our dear Pastor Bledsoe, we must not forget our calling.  Sunday is not about us. Church is not about us.  It’s about our mission to reach every man, woman and child in need of refuge.  It’s about the poor, the sick, the downtrodden — looking for an open door or a lifeboat to keep from drowning.

We, your deacons and trustees, are committed to continue the legacy that defines our beautiful church.  It is not just our responsibility, it is our duty.

There is work to do.  Don’t look back!  We are not heading in that direction.

Onward in Christ,
Riverside Deacons and Trustees  

Models of Pastoral Transition

Pastor Bledsoe addressed in his first sermon back from Sabbatical, the examples of leadership transition with Moses and Elijah–both examples of an authoritarian style of transition where a leader selects his successor. This may never have been a “model” but an example. Indeed, it is not what we strive for in today’s analytical style of sorting through qualified candidates for any position.

Sunday August 18th, Part II of Biblical Models of Transition will be preached and we’ll look at the selection of the apostle who replaced Judas the Betrayer. You can read Acts chapter 1 and be prepared. Again, the question will be: is this a model for our church or any church to follow? You’ll have to show up and listen to the sermon to know what “this” is.

We are trying to sort through what, if any, biblical instructions there are for selecting the next pastor. How are we to be guided? But to put our process in a nutshell, perhaps we should simply become familiar with what our church constitution says should happen when a pastor resigns (retires). ” Vacancy – Whenever the office of Pastor shall become vacant, or be officially pending, without delay it shall be the duty of the deacons, in conversation with at least one of the Baptist conventions with which the church is aligned–the Executive Minister of the D.C. Baptist Convention, and/or the Alliance of Baptists and/or the American Baptist Churches, USA –to select a minister of the Gospel to fill the vacancy.  A Pulpit Committee of no less than five members shall be nominated by the Deacons and elected by the church in order to search out and present prospective candidates for the office.  … [Article VI.1.c]

Currently, our two boards have been meeting with a consultant, Rev. Paul Clark, and have led the congregation through listening sessions. Sometime in the early Fall, we should be ready to nominate and elect the search committee. What is YOUR role? You and I are to be in prayer, practice patience, be discerning and we ought each to ask ourselves what we are prepared to do in order to make any of our “wants” for the next generation of leadership to become reality. What will you support? What will you show up to do? Because the Church is not the pastor but all of us. Let us be guided by the words of the Apostle Paul to the church at Philippi: “be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” The Good Shepherd is our First Pastor, our First Shepherd. Amen.

Preachers lined up for summer

Top of a crosier, a hooked staff carried as a symbol of pastoral office.

As Pastor Bledsoe is on sabbatical, the following preachers have agreed to step into the pulpit at Riverside. Please honor them by your presence. These two months will be a time for growing and embracing the transition in store for us since we now have some time for a “dress rehearsal” before we say goodbye to Pastor Bledsoe. Let’s pull together, take a deep breath and enjoy hearing from these faithful servants. Let us be faithful and not grow weary from doing well.

JUNE

2 Rev. Countess Cooper  Countess has known Pastor Bledsoe since she had him for World Religions at Howard Divinity in 1999. She also served as music director for our early service in 1999.  She earned her MDIV from Howard Divinity and is ordained in the UCC.  She can preach and sing. You can get a glimpse of that double gift in this video.

9 Rev. Roland Weah Associate Minister for over 12 years, Roland was a student of Pastor Bledsoe’s at Howard Divinity.  No stranger to Riverside, Roland has a pastor’s heart as he ministers to our shut-ins and visits the hospital. Roland will be overseeing services even though he is not preaching every service.

16 Rev. Jill McCrory Pastor of Twinbrook Baptist Church and a long-time colleague Jill is a DC native and graduate of the Leland Center Baptist Seminary in northern Virginia. Jill has been intensely involved in AWAB.  You can find a wonderful interview with her at the Metro Weekly site

23 Rev. Brian Hamilton Co-Pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church with his wife, Ruth, Brian is not stranger to us. He and Westminster welcomed us with open arms during our interim journey.  A long time resident of SW and deeply committed to safeguarding the musical culture of Jazz and the Blues, we are honored to have Brian preach to us.

30 Dr. Jay-Paul Hinds. Jay-Paul has been a wonderful colleague at Howard University School of Divinity where he has been Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care, Practical Theology and Psychology of Religion. A graduate of Princeton and Emory, Dr. Hinds brings urgent insights into our complicated world and culture.

JULY

7 & 14 Father Martin Smith. Father Martin has preached once for us at Riverside and we found him to be charmingly provocative or perhaps he was provocatively charming. Either way, he delivers insights with power.  Martin is well known throughout the Episcopal Church as writer, spiritual director, retreat leader, and teacher exploring contemporary spirituality. A priest since 1971, he most recently served as the Senior Associate Rector at St Columba’s church in Washington, D.C., in the Diocese of Washington

21 Rev. Lawrence Rodgers A graduate of Howard University School of Divinity, Lawrence graduated at the top of his class, and with the following honors: The Biblical Scholarship Award in biblical and theological studies. The Donald Barton Prize for most likely to succeed in Pastoral Leadership, and the Delores Carpenter Award for “exemplifying the highest levels of academic achievement and embodying the commitment to do justice, love mercy, and walking humbly with God.” He is currently pastor of Westside Church of Christ in Baltimore.

28 Rev.  Phillip Huber Pastor Huber is the pastor of St. Matthew Lutheran Church here in SW.  He has just led his congregation through a development process that took a dozen years. He is a graduate of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg.  He has served a number of parishes and was Visiting Professor of Missiology and Cultural Anthropology at Tumaini University, Iringa, Tanzania.  Phillip also serves as Disaster Response Coordinator for Maryland and Delaware, Lutheran Disaster Response.

For everything a season

In Ecclesiastes chapter 3:1 we read:  “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…”. With this beautiful strand of verse from Ecclesiastes, we are compelled to embrace the changing nature of the world and the unfolding of our lives. Consider the story of Riverside over the past two years.

We left a building, saw it razed and then worshipped in two interim spaces over the course of two years (Jefferson Middle School and Westminster Presbyterian); we built a new and beautiful church on a corner that is arguably the hottest corner in the District at the moment. We moved back in. We have adjusted and we have overcome. We have secured our church with an endowment and in the midst of all of that, we have continued to worship and care for one another. That’s a lot!

When we began that process, I promised the leadership and the church that I would remain until we had accomplished these two goals of an endowment and a new building. Now, five months after our move-in, I am convinced by way of lots of prayer and discernment that it is time for Riverside to also begin its transition to new pastoral leadership. Sunday, May 5th, I announced to the congregation that I am concluding my pastorate on December 22nd.

What happens next? A logical, purposeful process of consultation for the Deacons and Trustees with Rev. Paul A. Clark. Discussion about an interim pastorate and the hiring of an interim by January 2020; study of our context and hopes; and the eventual creation of a pastor search committee (that process is overseen by the Board of Deacons) which likely takes a year. Just as we intentionally addressed our hopes and fears in the transition from our previous building to the construction of our new church, we will construct a way forward. We hope and pray for a seamless handoff with a process that eventually brings new pastoral leadership for a new church in what is very much a new community. As I stated in today’s sermon about Joshua, we must now be of courage and dedicate ourselves to fearlessly moving forward. “We’ve come this far by faith,” as the song goes. We will carry on so this Baptist church of inclusion with its prophetic voice of justice and peace might continue to speak and remain a safe harbor for all people. ~PSTR

Palm Sunday – Holy Week

We have nearly completed our Lenten Journey. Palm Sunday is this Sunday, a moment we recall as the final entry of Jesus into the holy city, Jerusalem just prior to his arrest and execution by the Roman governor, Pilate. It is a day mixed with joy and sorrow.

Wednesday is our Get Lifted! midweek service of praise and prayer at 7pm. Join us as Jonathan leads us in songs and Kevin Twine plays on the piano. Thursday evening at 7pm is our Stones Of Remembrance communion service–a solemn evening of song and prayer in which we remember those we love who have left this world. It is a moving service. Friday the church will be open from 11 a.m. until 1pm for prayer. While no formal service, Kevin will play softly in the sanctuary. You may drop in when you like to pray on Good Friday. And of course, Sunday the 21st is EASTER. Let us come into this holy week with meek hearts filled with gratitude.

on the front porch

Last week I spent two afternoons in a row sitting out front of our church with a sign that says, “The Pastor Is In.” A couple of guys (rightly) pointed out that I was outside. I was thinking more along the lines of Lucy in the cartoon strip Peanuts. “I’m in” as, “I’m available.” I will occasionally sit outside with my sign and an extra chair. Feel free to drop by for a chat, tea, coffee, a vent or a prayer.

We are right in the middle of Lent which for me has meant composing sermons around the temptation narratives in the Gospels. But I’m moving along a plot line that includes Christ’s baptism, temptation, withdrawal to Galilee, departure from Nazareth, setting up in Capernaum and then calling disciples. This coming Sunday we will find ourselves on a hill (or mount) listening to the teaching of the Christ. If someone asked you what Jesus taught, well, you could not do better than to point them to Matthew chapters 5-7. We’ll begin with the Beatitudes.

Worship is about one hour long. We praise, pray and hear a sermon. In one hour folks. One hour in a week, give yourself to worship. Some will say that is not much time and they are correct. But have you ever watched a large rock thrown into a lake? Worship ripples over our lives, pulsing across the web of our interrelationships with themes of peace, justice, healing and repair. We’re easy to access by metro and bus. The Circulator, #52 and #54 buses drop right at our corner and the free Wharf shuttle picks up at L’Enfant and delivers you at the Wharf a block and a half from our church.

See you Sunday or on the “porch” sometime this week (likely Tuesday and Wednesday). ~PSTR

New leadership, same mission

Deacon Laurel Eierman

As you may know, our beloved Chairperson of Deacons, Jacquelyn, is stepping down after more than twenty years of service. She has been the right hand of our pastor, a defender of our church’s mission in the world and a generous, kind servant. We are grateful for her leadership. She will remain on the board a while and continue to provide counsel to the pastor and the new Chair of Deacons.

The new Chairperson is Deacon Laurel. Laurel is well-known in our congregation. She is consistent, supportive, loving and kind. She possesses a deep spirituality and displays that spirituality through earnest service. She is devoted to the mission of our church and she has wonderful skills that will result in her being a superb chairperson. Please welcome Laurel, thank Jacquelyn and then offer to do what is needed to help our church continue being the Beloved Community on this corner.

If you haven’t signed up for our e-newsletter, please do so. You can email our Moderator, Karl, at Karl_Maxwell@yahoo.com and ask to be added to the list. This e-newsletter comes out weekly. We thank Karl for his service.

Coming up this week: our midweek prayer and praise service at 7pm on Weds. A free organ concert at 7pm on Friday. And please mark on your calendars the 7th of April when Rev. Dr. Al Staggs will preach in our morning service and then at 3pm, he will present his one-person play, “A View from the Underside: The Legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.” Bonhoeffer resisted the Nazis and paid for his resistance with his life. In this time of rising anti-semitism and racial hatred, this play is both timely and necessary. Rev Staggs will pull no punches in his sermon that will address this moment in our history. And his play is inspiring and will compel us to courage. Bill Moyers wrote about his play, “”When I watch Al Staggs as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I am confronted by the deepest moral questions of what it means to be a witness and how I am using my life.” You will want to attend this and invite a friend.

Be connected. Be committed. Be the Beloved Community. ~PSTR