MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS, NY – Concluding a six-month-long search process, leaders of The Riverside Church have announced to the congregation this week that Rev. Stephen H. Phelps has been selected as Interim Senior Minister for the Church. In the weeks leading up to his first day, which is Sunday, January 3, Rev. Phelps will visit the Church to meet with clergy, staff and lay leaders. He will preach for the first time at Riverside on Sunday, January 9, 2011.
“We are delighted to welcome Rev. Phelps to the Riverside community,” said Jean L. Schmidt, Chair of the Riverside Church Council. “We look forward to the wonderful work we will do together under Rev. Phelps’ leadership.” As Interim Senior Minister, Rev. Phelps will play an important role in laying the foundation and preparing the congregation to call its next senior minister.
Rev. Phelps most recently served as Interim Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, and prior to that, as Senior Pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in Buffalo. He has served as pastor to Presbyterian congregations since 1986. Under his leadership, Rev. Phelps’ congregations have committed to transforming both the inward person and the structures of society, on which justice hangs.
Raised in the Hudson Valley and educated at Yale, Rev. Phelps worked on nationally recognized community-development projects with the Rensselaerville Institute before entering Yale Divinity School, where he earned the M.Div. In 2009 he moved to New York City to engage more fully with his vision of multi-faith and multi-cultural, spiritual communities.
He has taught and initiated programs to strengthen contemplative practices, prison ministries, multi-cultural community, justice and inclusion for gays and lesbians, and interfaith learning and dialogue. He has taken an active role with Faith House/Manhattan and teaches church history and Christian ethics in New York Theological Seminary’s Master’s Program at Sing Sing Prison.
The Riverside Church ( www.theriversidechurchny.org) is an interracial, interdenominational and international church built by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1927. The Riverside Church in Morningside Heights has a rich tradition of providing a forum for important civic and spiritual leaders. Past speakers include: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President William J. Clinton, the Dalai Lama, Fidel Castro, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.