Reverend Adriene Thorne has been voted in by the historic Congregation of Riverside Church as their Senior Minister. Rev. Thorne will be the first African American woman to serve as Senior Minister and the third PSR alumnx to serve at the church. Her post will begin on October 1st, 2022.
Riverside Church is a leading voice of progressive Christianity, sharing PSR’s long history of social justice and action and hosting influential speakers including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Marian Wright-Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund.
Two other distinguished PSR alumnx have served at Riverside Church. Rev. Patricia De Jong (MA/MDiv 78), now the Chair of the Board of Church World Service, served from 1984-89 and Rev. John Vaughn (MDiv 85), the Executive Pastor at Ebeneezer Baptist, served from 1996-2000.
After graduating with a Master of Divinity from PSR in 2008, Rev. Thorne spent eight years at Middle Collegiate Church, a dually aligned United Church of Christ and Reformed Church of America in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood, leaving as Executive Minister. Since 2016 she’s served as Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn.
Asked about the impact of her time at PSR, she said, “As I reflect on all the steps that led to my becoming Senior Minister of The Riverside Church, I must acknowledge the Pacific School of Religion, who helped equip me with the leadership and pastoral skills needed to fully develop an embodied ministry of care. To have enjoyed the mentorship of the Rev. Dr. Archie Smith, Carla de Sola, and many other creative theologians was transformational for my life and ministry. PSR gave me a powerful theological grounding and the care and healing focus to embark on the journey that led me to The Riverside Church.”
Rev. Thorne’s appointment comes after an 18-month, nationwide search led by an 11-member lay Senior Minister Search Committee assisted by the United Church of Christ and American Baptist Churches USA, Riverside’s denominational affiliations.
Speaking for the PSR community, President Rev. David Vásquez-Levy said, “Rev. Thorne embodies the best of Pacific School of Religion—a prophetic vision that both challenges and inspires, a deep well of resilience rooted in spirituality, and the skill to bring about a world where all can thrive. The whole PSR community celebrates her selection to lead Riverside at this critical moment.”
Watch Rev. Thorne’s first sermon at Riverside Church, We Are God’s Great Hope.