Children and Youth

We deeply value the presence of all children and youth at Riverside and seek to be a vital part of their faith experience. We strive to be a church where children can find their voice, listen with their heart and learn social justice by serving others. For more information on any topic regarding kids’ participation at Riverside, please call our youth leader, Katie Cook or by calling the church office, 541-386-1412.

Riverside’s youth members sing “Silent Night” using American Sign Language.

RCC Youth Interview Elders

What did it mean to watch your Japanese neighbors leave for detention centers? What was it like to go to a segregated school or watch the Civil Rights movement of the 60’s unfold?

Our youth interviewed Riverside elders about racial injustice and its impacts on their lives.

 Anneliese and Reid Richardson interview Leonard and Janet Wood 

This is a recording of a Zoom interview, and is available to watch by saving it to a Dropbox folder. Here is a link to it.

 Falkner Grabb interviews Bill Light 

 Bill grew up in Lima, Ohio. About 20-30% of the population was minorities, mostly African Americans. Most of his memories of connecting with a different race were in sports. Bill was in high school during the Civil Rights movement, but his school was integrated. Some of his teammates in football and basketball were Black. 

 Bill remembered the Civil Rights movement. It seemed like it was mostly in the South, and not as much in Ohio. He remembers the Black leaders such as Martin Luther King and Malcom X. He also remembered the assassination of these Black leaders. Bill said the civil rights protests shifted more towards the war protests of Vietnam.  

Bill said, “I think Black Lives Matter gives some context in remembering what happened in the Civil Rights Movement. Now, with Black Lives Matter it shows we’ve made some progress in the fact that we’ve had a Black President and Black Vice President, but there is still a lot of things that are not equal in this country.” 

 Having lived thru both the Civil Rights Movement and Black Lives Matter, Bill thinks there has been a lot progress, but there is still a long way to go. In the past 4-5 years, Bill has noticed similar division as the 1960s. 

 Abby Rankin interviews Jackie Wade 

This is a video recording of the Zoom interview, and is available by clicking here.

 Here is Abby’s reflection on talking to Jackie: 

    My conversation with Jackie Wade brought about emotional depth and heart wrenching stories. Jackie discussed her experience with WWII and the Japanese Internment Camps in Southern Idaho. She looked back on a memory of her seeing the treatment of the Japanese for the first time. Even as a young girl, she recognized that there was harsh discrimination happening before her eyes. This story had a large impact on me because I tried to think about how I would have reacted in that situation. I don’t know if I would have understood the extent to which the Japanese were being treated. It wouldn’t have made sense to me considering my surroundings. Jackie obviously had a compassionate heart and an open mind at a young age.  

 Jackie also explained her growth throughout her years of being exposed to more diverse communities. She could see that society behaved poorly toward people of color. This upset her and caused her to grow and create her own ideals of kindness and acceptance. What struck me most about talking to Jackie was her detailed stories about WWII and how relevant they still are today. She could remember exactly the way the camps looked and all of her family members’ opinions about the issue of systemic racism. Overall, it was interesting to hear Jackie Wade’s perspective on the lingering issue of extreme prejudice. 

 Paloma Williams interviews Joan Ewing 

 I had the privilege of interviewing Joan Ewing about the racial injustice she has witnessed and heard about throughout her life. Joan had so many stories from her life. Listening to her stories really made me feel how much fighting for change is necessary. I’ve included some of the things that made the most impression on me in my 30 minutes of talking with Joan. 

 One of the stories that really stuck out to me was about an African American woman who was studying at a small college in Eugene Oregon, where Joan was teaching. The woman and her husband had a five year old son who drowned while he was playing in the Willamette river. Joan and her husband felt absolutely terrible about it, so they went to visit the family and grieve with them. When sitting in the house, the woman told Joan how glad she was that they had come by, because nobody else from the faculty had come to see them at all.  

 Joan told me, “To think that neither the president of the college, nor the trustees, nor any of the professors that she had, felt comfortable acknowledging this terrible thing that had happened to that family, that just pained us deeply; it pained us deeply.”  

 Hearing these stories from someone who witnessed this firsthand really moved me. Joan’s perspective and insights are inspiring. She explains, “I tend to be on the positive side, because I have seen great changes in my lifetime. I have seen people’s minds change, accepting people that they would not ever have accepted 30 years ago. To me, that’s a glorious statement to be able to make.”  

 On Martin Luther King Jr.: “I was simply riveted by his rhetoric, I’ll never forget it.” 

 On the March on Selma: “I talk to my sister about these things. She’s 90, and we visit about these things a lot. She’s lived here in the valley all her life, and I’ve lived in many places. I’ve lived in Los Angeles, and Washington state and Salt Lake City, so I’ve experienced a lot of different cultures in that time, but that particular event, we both agree, was for us, just mind changing, because it brought home to us what hate is capable of, what hate was capable of.”  

 Books Joan recommends concerning racial justice: 

 See No Stranger By Valarie Kaur 

 Becoming  By Michelle Obama 

 Black Like Me  By John Howard Griffin 

 I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to speak with Joan and learn from her experiences, stories, and thoughts. 

 Ruby Betzing Interviews Roberta Cook  

What can you remember about significant historic events that occurred because of racial injustice?  

 Roberta said that there was a lot of racial injustice, but she didn’t she always recognize it. Roberta remembers the assassinations of John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martian Luther King Jr.  

 Roberta also said that her daughter, Katie, had a college friend, Roy, who was Black and he was accused of stealing tires even though he didn’t do this.  

 Her first personal experience with injustice (which wasn’t necessarily racially related) was during the Vietnam War. The street outside the church where she worked was filled with officers in full combat gear. Roberta told one of the police that there were children in the daycare at the church and the police officer didn’t seem to care so she called the mayor which made the policeman go away. 

 What are some of your memories about connecting with people of a different race? 

 Roberta didn’t have much exposure to different races as a child, but she remembers Chester who was Black. She remembers Chester fondly because when her dad had to check in with the control tower employees, Chester would take care of her. 

 During World War II, Roberta remembers that Mr. Adashi, a landscaper, and Tetsu, the housekeeper, worked for her aunt and they had to go to the internment camps. She also remembers that the Congregational Church acted as a hospitality center for Japanese before they were taken away to the camps. 

 When Roberta moved to Berkeley, she doesn’t remember any kids of color other than one who was in her junior high school. When Roberta went to Berkeley High it was integrated because it was the only high school. When Roberta was a student at U.C. Berkeley, she knew a Black chemistry professor named George Wiley who used to stop to talk to talk to her on his way to play tennis. He later left teaching and established an organization called Welfare Rights in Washington D.C. 

 Roberta also said that her son, Peter, had the same second grade teacher as Kamala Harris! 

 She also remembers that many people spoke positively about Walter Gordon who was the first Black person to graduate from Bolt Law School and he became the governor of The American Virgin Islands as well as being known for many other accomplishments. 

 In terms of race, are there any particular books, poems, music or art pieces that impacted you? If so how? 

 Roberta has a picture of a group of Blacks that have painted white faces to celebrate Mardi
Gras. She also has some other art pieces from a number of cultures. Roberta also said that her father loved music including the music of Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson.

 How have historic moments /events of racial injustice made an impact on you now? 

 Roberta said that she remembers certain people who couldn’t buy houses in certain areas based on their skin color. She also said that the integration of schools went well for k-3, but it didn’t work as well in 4-6th grade. The Black kids were afraid to go to the bathroom because they would get beat up and the school was too big and didn’t do a good job of making school a safe place to learn.  

 How have historic moments/events of racial injustice made an impact on you now?  

 When Roberta lived in Oakland, she a had a friend who was very poor. Roberta took her friend to junior choir practice at her church and the choir director was very unfriendly to her. This made Roberta mad and she stood up for her friend and helped her. This experience shaped her because she wants everyone to be treated fairly. 

 Aneka Diem Interviews Donna McCoy 

    Donna was born in Ohio, where she didn’t see much injustice when she was growing up. As a child, she went to an integrated school, and lived in a community without much segregation. Donna went to college at Kent State University, where she was involved in protesting the Vietnam War. One group of protesters burned down an art building on campus while she was at school. It was after she had graduated that the tragedy of the Kent State massacre occurred. 

 It was when she took a job as a teacher outside of her hometown, that she first experienced segregation. Another teacher commented on not teaching at the school if they let Blacks in. Donna decided to transfer to a school that was integrated, because she would not work with people who thought like that. 

 Donna was also involved in Civil Rights protesting, and with the ACLU, where she helped protest for women’s rights. She also started the first women’s rape crisis center at the first food co-op in North Carolina. In addition, she started a Quaker school called the New Garden Friends School, which still operates today. 

 Over the years Donna worked with many different kinds of people, and she tries to look at what’s inside someone, rather than outside. Donna went overseas for 20 years, working as a special education teacher. While overseas, Donna visited over 65 countries! She lived in Japan for five years, and while she was there, she started seven exchange programs! 

 She also lived in Africa five years ago with the Petty Tribe, while volunteering for the Peace Corps, where she taught 6th grade English to classes of 40-60 people. In Africa, the culture was extremely different, but Donna got to experience some of their celebrations, which were beautiful. 

 Donna remembers seeing the MLK walk, the 1959 Democratic convention, where there was violence, and saw Rosa Parks getting arrested on the bus, all on television. She wishes she could have participated in the MLK walk. When Rosa Parks was arrested, she was shocked and appalled. Though she was unable to participate in the MLK marches, she still stood up for what is right by writing letters to leaders of the United States. 

 Donna recalled the first time she connected with members of a different race. When she was ten, her family took a trip to Arizona, and while they were stopped at a grocery store, they met a Navajo family who really needed food and money. She remembers her parents talking to them, learning their story, and then her dad gave them five dollars, which was a lot of money then. 

 Now that she is older, and unable to participate in large things anymore, she still helps those in need as best she can, like helping with the Fish Food bank, and teaching citizenship classes. Donna is a very well-traveled person, and also a very kind and giving person, a pillar of our community. So many people have benefited from her generosity and caring spirit, and will be forever grateful for having her in their lives. 

 Lucas and Kylin Elliott interview Joan Ewing and Lorene Murray 

 What are some memories you have of racial injustice throughout your lifetime? 

 When Lorene was growing up, there weren’t many people of color in Oregon. Native Americans were pretty much the only people who weren’t white. She remembers when Vanport was established, the first real city to bring African American workers into Oregon. Vanport flooded in 1948, displacing thousands of people to Vancouver and Portland. She lived in Vancouver next to an African American family from Vanport, and one of her clearest memories of racial injustice was that her family paid $5 less rent because it was considered worse to be living next to an African American family. Her family didn’t teach prejudice and had a good relationship with those neighbors. She remembers when other people would look at them weirdly because they were friends with that family. Her father owned a bakery in West Lynn. One of his employees there turned out to be part of the first African American couple to live in Oregon City, since the racist exclusionary laws existed there for so long. She thought herself lucky because she was able to group up in a home without prejudice, with love for everyone. The way some people were treated sickened her. 

 Joan Ewing had more personal experiences with the Japanese Internment camps growing up. At the time, she was in first grade. She had a friend named Francis Yasui, with a red raincoat. One day, Francis didn’t show up to school. The teacher wouldn’t tell her what had happened either. As it turns out, Francis was forced into one of the internment camps, and Mrs. Ewing never heard from her again. Joan’s dad was a fruit orchardist. He was part of the American Legion, but when he heard about the internment camps, he knew it was wrong. He hated the government for doing it. Another event she remembers has to do with American Soldiers. During the war, all the soldiers from the Hood River Valley had their names up on a billboard, to show their bravery. After Pearl Harbor, the names of any soldiers with Japanese heritage were taken down. That was the figurative last straw for her father, who quit the American Legion. Growing up with her father owning an orchard, she knew many Japanese-American families. When the internment order was issued, she knew it was wrong and terrible. In her extended family, she didn’t agree with racist views, but racism was something that was just never talked about. It was an unspoken idea. She remembers her uncle making racist jokes and understanding that day that adults are not always right. 

 Do you remember where you were when pivotal moments of history like the “I Have a Dream” Speech? 

 Lorene remembers reading about the racial injustice in the South and being scared that people could ever be treated like that. She remembers that she was at home when JFK was killed. She will never forget hearing MLK’s riveting “I Have a Dream” speech on the TV. She also remembers Roosevelt’s speech, specifically the phrase that there is “Nothing to fear but fear itself.” 

 Joan also read about the racial injustice in the South through newspapers, and was saddened by it. Mrs. Ewing remembers being at the dentist’s office when she heard that JFK had been shot. She also loved watching the I Have a Dream speech, and the part of the Roosevelt Address that stuck with her was when he said “This Nation is at War.” She knew it was serious at the time. 

 How do you understand racial injustice in the world today? 

 Both wonderful women are in book clubs. They’ve read many books focused on racial injustice, systemic racism, and racist treatment. The most notable include “Black Like Me,” a book about living life under prejudice in modern times; “Becoming,” Michelle Obama’s memoir; and “See No Stranger,” about American Sikhism and loving your neighbor. 

 Andy Betzing interviews Larry Zones  

 Throughout Larry’s life he rarely saw racial injustice. And the racial events that he did see were positive. Larry grew up in a household that was pro equality. In grade school Larry doesn’t recall any Black students. And in high school he only remembers one Black girl in his senior year. He said that she was not treated differently.  

 Early on Larry went to teach at a church in Turkey. He did not witness any injustice, but noticed that Black neighborhoods had lower income. When Larry was older he went to Columbia, Missouri to begin work on his doctorate. He doesn’t recall any significant injustice. The few times he witnessed injustice was when he was at an internship in the College of Education. While he was interning he remembers a Black woman working at the Dean’s office, but that was all. While he was interning, Larry became the department head for one year. While he was the department head, he pushed for a Black woman as the secretary, who later became the first Black secretary for that college.  

Sunday Morning Education

Children join the worship service through “Children’s Time” with our pastor. Then, grades kindergarten through middle school are dismissed to engage in a lively Sunday school curriculum, where art, dramatics, sensory experiences and ritual encourage discussion and interaction. We explore Bible-based stories, with relevant references for today’s times.

Nursery Services

We offer nursery services on Sunday mornings for newborns through age four, at any time during worship, one half-hour before worship and one-half hour afterwards, to allow parents to attend Hospitality Hour.

The nursery is also available for children who are not quite ready to go to Sunday school, or young siblings who would like to stay together. We try to be very flexible to meet our younger children’s needs.

Our nursery is staffed by two adults. The staff offer crafts, toys and light snacks. Our nursery staff is competent, trained in safe conduct practices, have taken a first aid class, and will work with parents to make your child’s time an enjoyable experience.

To use the nursery, please bring your child to the nursery room, which is inside the Fireside Room on the lower level. Sunday school is offered adjacent to the nursery in the Fireside Room. A half-door allows Sunday school staff to monitor activity in the nursery.

Jimmy and Charlie Oates, left, are joined by their family members for the baptism of their new baby, Ruth.


Middlers usually meet once a month on Fridays when school is in session, from 3:45-5:30pm. They share a light meal, play cooperative games, plan service projects and take part in an activity that helps them understand their spirituality.

Young people from the Riverside congregation during their performance of the original play “Dorothy of Rainbowland.”


Teens in high school usually meet monthly to participate in a service activity, sharing and preparing food, planning service projects, cooperative games and a contemplative spiritual activity.

Our Whole Lives

Our Whole Lives, or “OWL,” is a series of comprehensive sexuality curricula for children, teenagers, young adults and adults published by the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association.

At Riverside, we offer OWL for ages 7th-9th grades. Because the program works better in in-person settings, it is currently postponed. Classes are generally held on Wednesday evenings from 7-8:30 p.m., with several half-day Saturday workshops. The curricula takes about four months and there is a tuition. Partial scholarships are available. A mandatory parent education night is held prior to the classes. Please call the church to sign up and ask for more details.

OWL is the result of seven years of collaborative effort by the two faiths to prepare material which addresses sexuality throughout the lifespan in age appropriate ways. OWL meets or beats the National Sex Ed Guidelines and also is written in alignment with the SIECUS Guidelines for teaching comprehensive sexuality.

The Our Whole Lives program operates under the idea that well-informed youth and young adults make better, healthier decisions about sexuality than those without complete information. OWL strives to be unbiased and teaches about heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, and transgender sexual health. OWL helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their relationships, health and behavior based on their own values. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, society and culture. It provides not only facts about anatomy and human development, but helps participants to clarify their values, build interpersonal skills and understand the social, emotional and spiritual aspects of sexuality.

The program is built around the values of justice and inclusivity, sexual health, responsibility and self-worth.

Please call the church or contact  Katie Cook , our youth leader, to find out more about the class. To learn more about the national  UCC Our Whole Lives program, click here .

A Safe Environment

If you’d like to read our Safe Conduct Policy, it is available here:  2019 Riverside Safe Conduct Policy Final 

Camp Adams

Camp Adams is a forested 210-acre recreational retreat center located 35 miles south of Portland, Oregon. Owned and operated by the United Church of Christ,  Camp Adams  is available to United Church of Christ member and non-member organizations.

Every summer, youth who have completed 2nd grade and up look forward to a week at Camp Adams which features a swimming spot, nature walks, a ropes course, crafts, all meals, nightly campfires and an outdoor worship area. In the fall, Riverside members also make a yearly all-church trip to Camp Adams.

For the past 60 years Camp Adams has provided Oregonians with a unique outdoor facility. The camp hosts everything from Outdoor School for students in Oregon’s public schools to spiritual retreats offered by area churches. While programs for 2020 have been cancelled, we look forward to summer programs again in the near future.

The late and much-loved longtime church member Rodger Schock teaches the kids about crawdad hunting at the annual Camp Adams retreat.