I'm New to the Church of the River

Here are answers to the questions you might have about your first visit to our church. If you have other questions, don’t hesitate to call or email us!

People ask...

  • Where is your church? Seek and ye shall find! We’re near downtown Memphis, between the Big River Crossing and WREG, overlooking the Mississippi River. If you’re heading south on Riverside Drive, exit onto Channel 3 Drive. If you’re heading north on Riverside from I-55, turn onto West Carolina then take your first right to get onto Channel 3 Drive. Here’s a map link with directions
  • Where should I park? Our parking lot is at the end of the Virginia Avenue West traffic circle—just take the driveway that goes down the hill to the church. If the visitor parking is full, you may park in the neighboring WREG News Channel 3 parking lot; ignore their “No Parking” signs, as they have expressly granted permission for church members and visitors to use the lot on Sundays.
  • What should my children and I wear? Most adults wear a range of styles from casual to business dress. Kids and teens don’t need to dress up since they sometimes have activities that require them to be comfortable. They should dress so they can actively engage in the program.
  • How will I know what to do and where to go when I get there? When you arrive, members of the Welcoming Team (wearing yellow tags) are outside to greet you and provide information and directions. If you arrive early, come to the Mississippi River Room to mingle with others for refreshments.
  • Are people of all races, beliefs and orientations welcome in this congregation? Yes, definitely. As a Welcoming Congregation, we celebrate our diversity!
  • What denomination are you affiliated with? We’re Unitarian Universalists.
  • What do you believe? Our beliefs are diverse and inclusive. We have no shared creed. But we are united in our shared values, expressed by our Seven Principles.
  • When do you hold worship services? Sundays at 11:00 am. Our minister preaches 3 Sundays each month, and a guest preacher takes the pulpit once each month. For six weeks during summer, we have a guest speakers on specific themes each Sunday.
  • What goes on during the service? The service begins with brief announcements, then the lighting of a chalice (a Unitarian Universalist tradition). Our minister will call the kids to the front of the sanctuary for a relaxed "children’s sermon", then they’ll be dismissed to their classrooms. Afterwards, the grownups enjoy a couple of readings (from many different sources), a couple of hymns (both traditional and contemporary), music from our amazing pianist, Awesome Little Choir and/or guest musicians, and Rev. Sam’s sermon. It’s all so good, it’s not uncommon for our congregation to break out in spontaneous applause!
  • Do you have childcare, and classes/programs for older children & teens? Childcare for infants and toddlers, and classes for kindergarten through middle school are provided during the service. The high school class meets from 10:00am to 11:00am. (Kindergarten through middle school classes join us in the Sanctuary for the beginning of the service at 11:00 and leave for class after the Story of the Morning. High school students remain in the sanctuary for the service.) The middle school and high school youth groups also have clubs that engage in activities beyond church. Note that the Faith Formation program is slightly curtailed during the summer months.
  • If my child doesn’t separate well, can she or he stay with me in the service? Yes. You may also remain in the class with your child if that works best. In addition, we have a video broadcast in the Beacon Room (library) so that you can be with your child and still see the service, an ideal option for nursing mothers seeking a quiet or more private area while enjoying the Sunday worship service.
  • Do you make accommodations for visitors who are physically challenged? Our sanctuary is wheelchair accessible. And just ask the ushers if you need large-print hymnals or enhanced hearing devices.
  • Once I visit, are you going to hound me to join? Nope. We may follow-up with a letter to thank you for visiting. And if you fill out the guest registry or a “visitor card”, you can let us know if you want to sign up for the weekly newsletter or receive other information. But we won’t come knocking on your door.