Transparency and Trust
At Riverside Church, we know that far too many people have been hurt by the church – through abuse, secrecy, exclusion, and exploitation. In repentance for these historical patterns, we engage in a model of vulnerable transparency in the hope of re-earning the trust of both our congregation and community. We don’t hide anything that belongs to the church, and we only shield identities in matters related to ethical confidentiality.
Riverside Church at Park & King Community Covenant
Being called into existence by God, redeemed by the work of Christ Jesus, and daily empowered by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we, the people of Riverside Church at Park & King do promise and covenant to be a welcoming, affirming, diverse, progressive, nonjudgmental community of Christian discipleship and service. We honor these commitments in this statement of mission:
We are a people of faith, rooting ourselves and our community in the ancient Scriptures and in daily communion with God and each other. We promise to believe the best about each other – forgiving freely, listening with curiosity, and disagreeing without division. We promise to be ever attentive to the movement of the Spirit, discerning God’s call in community and remembering that God often speaks to us in unexpected ways.
We are a people of hope, attaching ourselves to the unwavering optimism that comes from the knowledge that God’s kingdom is coming and is already among us. We affirm that God’s kingdom is a society of radical justice, with kindness, mercy, economic and personal agency, and inclusion for all. We promise to be a model of transformative and beloved community, with people of every race, class, gender, sexuality, and age finding a place in our leadership, membership, and circle of care.
We are a people of love, offering not simply tolerance, but abundant and extravagant love. We affirm that God’s love is unconditional and sufficient; we will never be diminished by showing love. We promise to love people who are difficult to love, to forgive people as many times as they need, and to use accountability as a tool of reconciliation rather than condemnation.
In recognition that the Sermon on the Mount – the ethical teaching of Jesus – is the central and guiding teaching for the daily action of Christians, we state our core values after the pattern of the Beatitudes – those attributes which Jesus said were blessed by God:
We are poor in Spirit, remembering that every good gift comes from God.
We mourn, remembering that we cannot be comforted without naming that which is broken.
We are humble, remembering that we are only a small part of something greater.
We hunger and thirst for justice, remembering that the only true satisfaction is to do the will of God.
We are merciful, remembering that we are all in daily need of mercy.
We are pure in heart, remembering that hypocrisy is the surest destroyer of our relationship with God and each other.
We work for peace, remembering that God’s peace is found not in the absence of conflict, but in the presence of justice.
We will persist in setback and persecution, remembering that the prophets before us were also persecuted.
We are a congregation in the Baptist tradition, believing that the freedom of conscience gives rise to authentic faith, sustainable community, and equitable society. We speak of these freedoms in four ways:
Soul Freedom: we believe that every person is given agency by God to make choices in their spiritual lives, and that each person is responsible to God, not the church, for those choices. In our commitment to this freedom, we recognize that our pastors join us on the journey as guides and teachers, not dictators or judges.
Bible Freedom: because we are ultimately accountable to God for the choices in our spiritual lives, no interpretation of the Scripture is binding on another believer. Rather, we recognize the freedom of each person to study and interpret the Scriptures for themselves. In commitment to this freedom, we recognize that our congregation will have theological diversity without division; we will not force agreement.
Church Freedom: we recognize no ecclesiastical authority over our congregation, but rather assert the freedom of our local faith community to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow in the way that we believe that God is calling us. In commitment to this freedom, we will work cooperatively with the Alliance of Baptists and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, but those groups will not have control over the mission and ministry of our faith community.
Religious Freedom: we believe that these freedoms can only truly be exercised within a society where every person has the right to pray and worship – or not – as they choose. In commitment to this freedom, we will partner with those in the interfaith community to create a societal framework that promotes liberty and justice for all.
May God keep us from falling as we walk together in this covenant, and deliver us into the presence of Christ with great joy at the coming of the kingdom.