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Clergy and Senior Staff
Rev. Dr. Amy K. Butler, Senior Minister

Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, "Pastor Amy," was called as the 7th Senior Minister of The Riverside Church on Sunday, June 8, 2014.

Read Amy's full spiritual biography.

Rev. Michael Livingston, Executive Minister

As Executive Minister, Rev. Livingston oversees the operational and administrative needs of the church. Prior to joining The Riverside Church, Michael served as the Director of National Public Policy for Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) and directed their Washington, DC office. Previously, he worked for the International Council of Community Churches and also served as President of the National Council of Churches. In both places Michael traveled nationally and internationally engaging in the work of peace building, reconciliation, and interfaith dialogue. He has served congregations in Los Angeles and New York City, and holds two degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary, a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology.

Read Michael's full spiritual biography.

Rev. Linda Tarry-Chard, Minister for Membership, Care & Parish Life

Linda Tarry-Chard holds a Master of Science in Education from Fordham University and a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary. Shortly after receiving her religious degree, Linda became an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and served as the Minister for Social Justice at Broadway United Church of Christ. She now serves as the Minister for New Membership, Care & Parish Life at The Riverside Church in New York City.

Linda Tarry-Chard has been involved in public service for over 40 years and has held executive positions in voluntary child-care agencies and with the New York City Human Resources Administration. Her career has focused on the welfare of disadvantaged urban children and their families, diversity and social justice issues. She was the Director of Adoption Services at Graham Windham Childrenís Services; Director of Victim Services Agency/ Community Outreach in the five boroughs of New York City; and Director of Special Projects for the New York City Board of Education where she developed educational enrichment programs for talented high school students in Central Harlem Community School District #5 and raised private funds for the Frederick Douglass Academy, one of the most rigorous college preparatory schools in Harlem.

In 1995, Linda Tarry-Chard broadened the population she serves to include women and children from U.S. inner cities to the townships of South Africa. She is the founding President of Project People Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that encourages multicultural and interfaith relations through training and employment projects for women and leadership projects for high school students.

Linda Tarry-Chardís innovative work with Project People Foundation earned her a 2009 Purpose Prize Fellowship awarded by Civic Ventures. The Purpose Prize, now in its fifth year provides awards to social innovators 60+ in encore careers. It is the nationís only large-scale investment in social innovators in the second half of life.

Linda Tarry-Chard is a lifetime member of the NAACP, and a founding Board Member of the Sister Fund, a private foundation that supports women and girls in New York City. In addition, she served as a docent and member of the Advisory Committee of the New York Womenís Foundation and serves on the Advisory Committees of the Jewish Museum and the Facing History and Ourselves Teacher Training Foundation. Among many of her credits, she is also the co-author of a childrenís book entitled King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.

Rev. Julie Johnson Staples, Interim Minister for Education

Ordained in 2011 as a Congregational minister, Julie Johnson Staples currently serves as Moderator of the New York-New Jersey Regional Association of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches. She is also a member of the NACCC national ambassador team, acting as a regional advisor to ministerial search committees and a resource representative for member churches in the NACCC.

Rev. Johnson Staples also is a fellow of the Congregational Foundation for Theological Studies, which is dedicated to developing and sustaining ministerial excellence within her denomination.

Rev. Johnson Staples recently completed a Th.M. degree in Religion, Literature and Culture at Harvard University. Her research focused on inter-racial and multicultural liturgical experiences in American religious history. She also studied critical exploration in Teaching & Learning at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, applying the work of developmental psychologist Jean Piaget to the theory and practice of religious education.

Rev. Johnson Staples was raised in Des Moines, Iowa. She has spent most of her life in active lay ministry - including serving as vice-chair of her church council, participating on church endowment strategy committees, teaching Bible study, and leading Adult Christian Education classes.

Prior to ordained ministry, her professional career included work as a journalist in Washington and as an executive in finance on Wall Street. Before leaving to enter seminary, Rev. Johnson Staples was a Managing Director of Warburg Pincus, the global private equity firm based in New York. Earlier in her career, she was the Justice Department correspondent for ABC News and the Supreme Court correspondent for TIME Magazine. In addition to reporting on law and politics, she has twice worked as a White House correspondent, for The New York Times and for The Baltimore Sun.

Before her education at Harvard, Rev. Johnson Staples completed her Master of Divinity at the Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, graduating with distinction in Biblical Studies/Hebrew Bible. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Georgetown University Law Center, and is an emeritus member of the board of visitors. Rev. Johnson Staples completed her undergraduate degree in journalism at the William Allen White School of Journalism and Public Information at the University of Kansas. She is a member of the Journalism School's Board of Trustees. In May, Rev. Johnson Staples was appointed to the board of the Congregational Library of the Congregational Christian Historical Society in Boston, Massachusetts. She is also former Chair of the Board of Directors of healthywomen.org, a national women's health organization and a former visiting professor in the School of Communication, Information and Library Studies at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Rev. Johnson Staples is married and has one son, who is studying philosophy at the University of Central Florida.


Christopher Johnson, Director of Music and Organist

Christopher Johnson is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and a graduate of The Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University.  He presently serves as Director of Music and Organist at The Riverside Church in New York City, Artist-in-Residence at Union Theological Seminary, and as Director of Music at the Interchurch Center in New York City.  In addition to previous appointments as Director of Music and Organist for the Woodstock/St. Paul Community at Columbia University, Assistant Organist and Associate Director of Music at The Riverside Church, he also served as Assistant Organist at Christ Church United Methodist in Manhattan.

An orchestral musician by training, Chris held a two-year tenured position as section violist with the Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra. He has performed as section violist, as well as solo violist, flutist and bassoonist with the Tulsa Philharmonic and a number of other professional orchestras throughout the Midwest.  Having studied at The Cleveland Institute of Music and Manhattan School of Music, his teachers have included Thomas Murray, Todd Wilson and Adeline Huss for organ studies and Joshua Smith, John Mack, and Robert Vernon, Principals of The Cleveland Orchestra, for orchestral studies.  Chris is proud to be a flutist with The Knights Chamber Orchestra, an exceptional young orchestra that has toured extensively and has to its credit a number of recordings.

A prizewinner at the 2001 San Marino Organ Competition and the 2003 National Association of Negro Musicians’ Organ Competition, Chris maintains an active concert schedule, presenting recitals throughout the United States and Europe.  During the summer, he also presents concerts with Ensemble Eccolo, a chamber ensemble based in Altenburg, Germany, performing throughout Europe and the Middle East.  An enthusiastic and avid flyer of airplanes, Chris is also a commercial pilot and flight instructor at Century Air in Fairfield, NJ.