Category Archives: Featured

Riverside Readers Discuss “Morning Poem”

At noon this Sunday, August 2, Riverside Readers will discuss and critique “Morning Poem” by Mary Oliver after the 11:00 am prayer meeting. Please read it, and if you have time, join us at the discussion. Details on how to join the discussion are on the Online Community Services page.

Morning Poem
by Mary Oliver

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches—
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead—
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging—

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted—

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

The Time for Unity is Now

Riverside Family,

Over the past several months, we have faced one of the most challenging periods in our church history. The impact of COVID-19 has been felt across the congregation and I cannot thank you enough for the incredible faith and flexibility you have shown so far. This crisis is far from over, we know that, but it is your resilient spirit that will see us emerge as one unified Christian body once this pandemic is eventually behind us.

Over the coming weeks, the health and safety of our congregation must remain our number one priority. I would ask that you continue to take care of yourselves and of each other. We are all in this together.

Indeed, if recent weeks have taught us anything, it’s that the time for unity is now. The recent and tragic events in the US have highlighted the social injustice and racial inequalities that still exist in society, fueled by a divisive narrative of bias and discrimination. I want to be very clear that these beliefs hold no place at Riverside, and in no way reflect the values we live by as a church body. The inclusion of everyone, irrespective of skin color, gender, where you are from or who you love, is paramount.

Let’s never forget, the very things that make us different also make us better. We are an inclusive church, and our inclusiveness fosters a strong sense of belonging. It empowers us to be our best and to demonstrate God’s love in our actions. So, let’s all play our part. It is up to each of us to actively embrace inclusion in our daily lives, and in doing so, we drive positive change for all.

God bless you,

Deacon Laurel

Pastor Search Suspended

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, church leadership has temporarily suspended the search for a full time pastor. This is not an appropriate time to introduce new leadership. Leadership will instead focus their energies on the current needs of the church.

Fortunately, interim pastor Rev. Nicolas Mumejian is committed to serving Riverside throughout this period. The church will resume the search for a full-time pastor once members are able to return to the sanctuary and precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are relaxed.

Remembering Rev. Paul Clark

Photo of Rev. Paul Clark

Riverside Church family,

It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Rev. Paul Clark who went to be with the Lord on April 3, 2020 after a long battle with ALS.  Please pray for his wife Brenda and his family.

Rev. Clark was instrumental in our pastoral selection process, acting as consultant and spiritual leader to our church during the transition from full-time Pastor to interim Pastor. Our church has been enriched by his faith and wisdom and he will be missed by all who knew him.

A funeral service will be held at The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC sometime in the near future.

God bless you,

Deacon Laurel

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.