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Welcome to Riverbend

We understand that visiting a church can be awkward and intimidating, but Riverbend was created for people who are intimidated by church. We invite you to give us a try! Feel free to take your time, look around and get to know us. We hope to see you soon!

Pastoral Care

Stephen Ministers

Everyone goes through difficult times. Having someone to care, to listen, to share God's love with, can help us get through the confusion, stress and loneliness we may be experiencing. Stephen Ministers are part of the Pastoral Care Team at Riverbend. They are volunteers who have completed 50 hours of training and are asked to commit to at least two years for training, service and regular supervision. Stephen Ministers assist Riverbend's Pastoral Care Ministers and their blue name badges identify them.


If you are interested in trainining to become a Stephen Minister at Riverbend, contact Paulette at 215.3045 or  Linda at 215.3044.

What do Stephen Ministers do?

They listen, pray, share Christ's love, maintain confidentiality, and attend to the care-giving process. Stephen Ministers care for people who are: grieving, in a crisis, in need of long-term care, dying, hospitalized, divorcing, experiencing losses as they age, or most other crises. A Stephen Minister is not a counselor or therapist, a problem solver, or a casual visitor. For information or referral, contact Barbara Shepherd or (512) 215.3048. Stephen Ministers also serve communion every Sunday in the Upper Room from 10:30 till 11:00 a.m. 

Rewards of being a Stephen Minister: 
Joy and satisfaction of participation in a meaningful ministry
Friendship and support of Christian community developed in training and supervision sessions
Personal growth through training, service, and supervision
Enhanced relationships with family, friends, co-workers
Enhanced spiritual journey
Many Stephen Ministers often serve past their two year commitment 

Definition of Stephen Ministers:
Servants, listeners, supportive resource persons
SM are not counselors, therapists, pastors, or mental health professionals

For more information contact Paulette Schwartz via


Riverbend provides a unique place for loved ones to be remembered and/or memorialized. Whether it's a memorial service in our Smith Family Chapel or an intimate gathering in Remembrance Gardens, we are there to help you through this difficult time in your life. Remembrance Gardens offers a variety of ways to honor loved ones. You may devote space to memorialize a life, select a place for the ashes of a loved one, or simply come to reflect on life's passages.To reserve the Chapel or Fellowship Hall, please contact Paulette Schwartz, Pastor of Care & Recovery at (512) 215.3045. For information on interment or scattering of ashes in Remembrance Gardens, please call Keary Bailey at (512) 329-6007.


Services were held on October 30, 2015.  Dr. Gerald Mann, founding pastor of Riverbend Church in Austin, Texas, died on Saturday, October 24, 2015.

He is survived by his wife, Sandy Mann; his children, Cynthia Manney; Stacey Selman and husband Brent; Gerald E. Mann II, wife Jillian Hutchinson Mann and granddaughter Grace Lois Mann; a brother, Wayne Mann; grandchildren Garrett Gregory Brooks, Carder Wright Brooks, Jessica Manney, and Sasha Nath-Manney; his wife’s children Jonathan and Jennifer Ayres, and grandchildren Wyatt and Olivia Ayres, Brandon Hinnenkamp, James Reedy and Erin Reedy, and Sean Calkins. He was preceded in death by his parents, Cary Freeman Mann and Ruby Chestene Mann, his wife of 42 years, Lois Wright Mann, and his sister, Mickey Mann Johnson. Gerald was born in Houston, Texas, on December 18, 1937. He spent most of his childhood in West Columbia, Texas, on his father’s ranch, beginning a love for nature that would last his entire life. Gerald was a star running back on his high school football team, despite his small stature. His intention to play college ball was sidelined by injury, but the major change in his life happened in 1958 when he attended an Easter Sunday church service with his new wife, Lois Wright Mann. Much to his surprise, Gerald found himself responding to the altar call and becoming a Christian.His surprise was compounded when, a brief time later, he felt the call to become a preacher. He studied at Baylor, Kilgore and the newly-opened University of Corpus Christi (now part of Texas A&M), then earned a master’s degree in theology and a doctorate in philosophy from the Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.Gerald pastored churches in Hereford, Texas, and the Springbranch area of Houston, before becoming the pastor of University Baptist Church in Austin in 1973.Austin found Gerald Mann a refreshing breath of fresh air and he became increasingly visible when asked to provide the opening prayer for the State Legislature in 1976. Accustomed to lengthy, sermon-like prayers from local pastors, legislators were intrigued by Gerald’s brief remarks: “Lord, help us to lead such lives that when we die, even the undertaker will be sorry.” The positive response led to him serving as the chaplain for the House and Senate, where lawmakers and spectators in the gallery waited to hear what this unusual preacher would say. One of his prayers was, “Father, as we face the difficult decisions of this week, may we not grow wishbones where our backbones ought to be,” while another posited, “Lord, help these senators to remember that making laws is like a love affair; if it’s easy, it’s sleazy. Amen.” University Baptist saw increasing attendance, but the church had no room to expand. Two young real estate developers, Gary Bradley and John Wooley, showed Gerald a 33-acre property alongside Lake Austin, a beautiful spot for the church to relocate. But a lengthy business meeting resulted in University Baptist deciding not to move. The vision that had begun to take shape in Gerald Mann’s mind could not be put aside, though. He resigned from University Baptist and, along with 60 families who believed in his vision, started a new church in June, 1979. Gerald’s goal was to create a church for people who didn’t go to church, and Riverbend found a ready audience in Austin. Meeting in Hill Country Middle School, Riverbend grew rapidly. Attendance was boosted by a now-legendary television commercial featuring Gerald on the golf course with Austin humorist Cactus Pryor. Pryor says, “Reverend Doctor Mann, if you can sink this putt, I’ll join your church.” Gerald looks heavenward for a second, then sends his golfball on a 40-foot beeline for the cup. A jump-cut to Gerald standing behind a pulpit, saying, “At Riverbend, we’ll take ‘em any way we can get ‘em!” as Cactus smiles in agreement. It was a non-churchy ad for this non-churchy church, and hundreds responded to check it out.By the time the first church building opened in 1985, more than 1600 people were showing up each Sunday.Gerald Mann’s concise, practical messages became nationally-known and he shared his wisdom in a dozen books, weekly radio shows, and a television ministry which spanned the globe. He was a friend and gave counsel to celebrities like Darrel Royal, Willie Nelson, Larry Gatlin, and President Bill Clinton.Riverbend became one of the ten fastest growing churches in the USA, due in large part to Gerald’s fresh take on spirituality and what he called “common-sense religion.” Riverbend’s mission, he often stated, was to reclaim “The Four B’s: the bruised, the battered, the broken, and the bored.” Few who attended a Riverbend service were ever bored. Gerald specialized in catchy titles and turns of phrases, resulting in themes that can still be quoted decades later by Riverbend members: “You Can Begin Again.” “Wait to Worry.” “There’s a Yes in Every Mess.” These topics were delivered in 18-minute messages which always contained humor, great stories, and practical advice for daily living. Gerald’s vision for Riverbend was a rousing success. While visiting Israel in 1992, he had a new vision when he stood in the ancient amphitheater at Caesarea Philippi and thought, “This would be a beautiful design for a church.” Six years later, Riverbend’s Home for Hope was finished, a unique and impressive setting for worship, concerts and other cultural events. The journey was not always smooth, though. In 2000, Gerald’s wife, Lois, died, leaving him to experience first-hand the grief about which he had counseled many others. He also learned that he was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, a diagnosis he did not immediately share with others. But the signs began to be visible.In 2005, Gerald preached his last Easter sermon at Riverbend and resigned after 26 years at the helm of the church he dreamed up. In that sermon, he said, “When I die, don’t feel sorry for me, because I’m going to fulfill my dream to be with God.” He struggled with the ravages of Parkinson’s for ten more years before he finally fulfilled that dream. Years ago, Gerald Mann spoke about how he had changed during his years of pastoring. “When I started out, I saw myself as a prophet of God, standing on a high bank of a river looking down at people in the muck being swept away into perdition. I was shouting down to them to tell them how to get out of the mess,” Gerald said.“Then, I got right next to the muck and tried to help pull them out.”“Now, I just get down into the muck with everybody else, hold on tight, and paddle like crazy.”