In the song, It’s Alright Ma’ (I’m only bleeding), Bob Dylan sang, “he not busy being born is busy dying…” This Sunday on your way to church, you will see our church building—a building we love and for which we’ll forever be grateful—razed. We knew the day would come when the building would be razed in order to make way for the new. We are busy being born.
Sunday, January 15th, MLK Sunday was a magnificent day of empowerment. We who attended will never forget the power of thirty different groups represented in the auditorium of Jefferson Academy Middle School as we sang (and wow, did our singers sing!), as we prayed and as I preached about the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his relevancy for today and for this week as a billionaire is elevated to the White House, in my sermon The Untweetable and Ineffable Beauty of Justice. Today, we were busy being born! Tomorrow, we rise in hope!
And that church building, now razed, is a stark reminder of the courage of this congregation that believed more in the promise of the future than the diminishing aura of the past. And because we believed that, we created an endowment. And the first thing we did with that endowment was to take $100,000 from it and disperse it to groups that are repairing our world. What a magnificent day of beauty. It’s alright. We’re busy being born. Amen. Hallelujah.
Below are the grantees who received grants from us today:
The Alliance of Baptists, a denomination whose mission and values are congruent with ours that works to reconcile the world through voices that speak for peace and justice. http://www.Allianceofbaptists.org
Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, working for LGBT civil rights especially within Baptist conventions and associations. awab.org
Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, an institution that works within the public square and legal arenas to secure separation of church and state and religious liberty. http://bjconline.org/
Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, works for peace and justice while networking Baptist churches in these efforts. In honor of Rev. Robert Troutman who helped establish this group and through whom Pastor Bledsoe was introduced to Riverside Baptist Church. bpfna.org/
DC Baptist Convention Historically and presently we have been a member of this convention and we seek to empower ministry through our association with local Baptist churches. http://dcbaptist.org/
Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries (RMM) of Metro Baptist Church in New York City RMM runs a gamut of social ministries including tutoring, summer day camp, food pantry, clothing closet, HIV/AIDS services, life skills empowerment, and a teen center that operate out of the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. In honor of Deacon Stephen Bouchard. http://www.rmmnyc.org
Riverside Church Arts Project: The Burning Fountain ~ Art and Imagination Riverside Baptist Church in collaboration with Blind Whino and The Luce Center for the Arts and Religion present exhibits of religious and nonreligious artists in an effort to understand “the burning fountain” (Philip Wheelwright) of artistic imagination.
The Gay Christian Network is an international nonprofit that strives to change the Church to bring about full inclusion of LGBT persons. Deacon Bukola Landis-Aina serves on their board. http://www.gaychristian.net/
National Council of Churches For over sixty years, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has joined hearts and voices to proclaim the One who embodies God’s love and promise of unity: Jesus Christ. As a covenant community, we are 40 million Christians in over 100,000 congregations from 38 diverse member communions. In honor of former member and General Secretary, Michael Kinnamon. http://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/
Evangelical Environmental Network that works to educate evangelicals and others about climate change and seeks to influence legislators to pass meaningful measures to thwart pollution and save our planet. In honor of member and colleague, Dr. Jim Ball. http://www.creationcare.org/
Amidon-Bowen Elementary School, Southwest Washington DC Providing a rigorous, responsive, challenging, and joyous learning environment where every student will develop a love for learning, an innate curiosity, and be eager to fully participate in the learning process. http://www.amidonbowen.org
AppleTree Early Learning Center AppleTree’s mission is to close the achievement gap before children get to kindergarten by providing three- and four-year-olds with the social, emotional, and cognitive foundations that enable them to thrive in school. Housed at Riverside for a dozen years, they got their start here and have expanded to other campuses in the city. http://www.appletreeinstitute.org/about-appletree/
BISTA supports bilingual schooling in Honduras by paying for teacher’s salaries. This effort is led by our own Upshur Whittock. http://www.Bista.org
DC Mentoring and Achievement Program (DC MAAP) A workforce readiness and mentoring program helping low income and low skilled DC residents find jobs in the Southwest/Waterfront community. Founded and led by Deacon Roy Potts.
Jefferson Middle School Academy, Southwest Washington DC Nurturing the academic, social, and emotional needs of every child through rigorous, interdisciplinary, developmentally appropriate curriculum, and positive, collaborative relationships with all members of our JA family. http://www.jeffersontrojans.org
Malala Fund whose goal is to enable girls to complete 12 years of safe, quality education. Named after the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan. https://www.malala.org/
The Arc of Montgomery County Each day, The Arc Montgomery County directly supports over 500 children, youth, adults and families. Given in honor of Wyatt Evans. http://thearcmontgomerycounty.org/
Casa Ruby A bilingual multicultural LGBT organization providing life-saving services and programs to the most vulnerable in the LGBT community. http://www.casaruby.org/
DC LGBT Center – Global Division The U.S. is a frequent destination for LGBTI individuals seeking a new and safer life. The mission of the Center Global is to help provide safe passage for our brothers and sisters from other parts of the globe. http://www.thedccenter.org/programs_global.html
Emergence Community Arts Collective Empowering the human spirit through social activities, traditional arts classes, support groups and educational seminars. http://ecacollective.org/mission.html
Equal Justice Initiative The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society. http://eji.org/about-eji
Martha’s Table works to support stronger children, stronger families, and stronger communities by increasing access to quality education programs, healthy food, and family supports. Riverside has supported Martha’s Table over the years with donations of food to help the hungry. http://marthastable.org/
Mary’s House Based in NE DC, Mary’s House for Older Adults, Inc. is working to develop housing and inclusive environments that comprehensively address affordability and access, and eliminate the constant worry of discrimination or even violence based upon the LGBTQ/SGL status of the individual. http://www.maryshousedc.org
Micah House, Temple Micah DC provides support and social services to homeless women with long histories of alcohol and drug abuse. Residents arrive at this sunny, spacious home from shelters or drug rehabilitation programs. They receive individual and group counseling to meet their needs in maintaining a job, managing a budget, staying healthy, meeting education goals, and finding a place of their own. Given in honor of Rabbi Daniel Zemel and our congregations’ abiding friendship. http://www.micahhouse.org/
S.O.M.E. (So Others Might Eat) SOME offers comprehensive supportive services to meet the needs of the people at each point on their journey from homelessness to independence, whose efforts have been supported by our congregants who serve there monthly. http://some.org/
Safe Shores – The D.C. Children’s Advocacy Center Safe Shores provides intervention, hope and healing for children and families affected by abuse, trauma and violence in the District of Columbia, and prevents child abuse through education and training. http://www.safeshores.org/
Sasha Bruce Youthwork Improving the lives of runaway, homeless, abused, and neglected at-risk youth and their families in the Washington area. http://www.sashabruce.org/
Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL) Supports and empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the Washington, DC, metropolitan region. http://www.smyal.org/
Sickle Cell Disease Association of Greater Washington Providing research, education, testing, and counseling of persons living with the disease or carrying the trait. Housed at Howard University Hospital.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Founded in 1962, pioneering research and treatment for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. HTTP://www.stjude.org/