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Riverside News
Riverside Welcomes Julie Johnson Staples
Posted on Riverside Blog August 31, 2012

Dear Members and Friends of The Riverside Church

As the conclusion of our ministry with Rev. Dr. Arnold Thomas nears (Sun September 2 will be the final occasion of his celebrating in worship at Riverside) many in the church have been wondering and asking how the work of the Education Department will be directed in the immediate future. After all, in September, all church programs turn on like a faucet at full force.

It is my pleasure to announce that I have made the appointment of Rev. Julie Johnson Staples to serve as our Interim Minister with Education. A short biography of Rev. Johnson Staples is appended to this message.

Rev. Johnson Staples will begin her work at Riverside in the fourth floor education offices on Tuesday, September 4th. On Sunday, September 16th -Homecoming Sunday- she will for the first time join with the clergy in the chancel in the Lord's Day Worship celebration.

Please extend a warm greeting of Christian fellowship and collaboration as you meet Rev. Johnson Staples in the course of our joined ministries.

Rev. Stephen H. Phelps


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.