Preserving The Joint Statement Between Fellowship Memphis and Downtown Church

This is the joint statement that Fellowship Memphis and Downtown Church have made together in regards to Rick Trotter. I noticed that Downtown Church has already taken down the joint statement so I snagged and put it in a post format. This is a quick stand alone post.

“No legacy as is rich as honesty

William Shakespeare

“The high road is always respected. Honesty and integrity are always rewarded.”

Scott Hamilton  

 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.

Matthew 5:15 NLT

When I was researching the previous post about Fellowship Memphis, and Downtown Presbyterian Church I had noticed that the joint statement that was put out was gone from the Downtown Presbyterian Church. I had a gut feeling that both churches are going to be doing some “Gospel Centered” damage control. So I snagged  this joint statement from Fellowship Memphis and put it into a separate post.

This statement below according to one of the sources I have is flawed and dishonest. After Rick Trotter was caught the leadership of Fellowship Memphis which allegedly included John Bryson and Bryan Loritts organized meetings where Rick Trotter read a statement and apologized for what happened. The women who were the victims of an alleged sex crime were encouraged not to contact police nor to press charges. This situation was allegedly covered up by the leadership of Fellowship Memphis. What was explained to me is that Rick Trotter’s alleged voyeurism wasn’t a one time incident. Rick Trotter allegedly recorded over a hundred women on video. If you are a victim I am encouraging you to contact the Memphis Police Department. If you formerly were involved in Fellowship Memphis and have a story to tell this blog exists for you. I get spiritual abuse as I have been subject to it myself.

In addition I am in the process of obtaining statements from all parties. A non response is a response in the end. I have emailed Richard Rieves and Chris Davis. Chris as I understand was on staff at Fellowship Memphis and allegedly knew of the illegal activity and the severity of it. In addition I have emailed the leadership of Trinity Grace Church in New York City and asked for a statement on the situation with Fellowship Memphis and Downtown Presbyterian Church. I also emailed the Acts 29 Southeast Regional Director Brian Lowe for a statement. I am going to proceed to contact the other Acts 29 Board Members about this situation as well. I also plan to contact Matt Chandler in these efforts of communication. I have already tweeted him yesterday’s post. Its my understanding that The Wartburg Watch will also be writing about this situation at Fellowship Memphis and Amy Smith of SNAP wrote this post about Fellowship Memphis. Amy Smith was critical in braking the story of Karen Hinkley and Matt Chandler’s The Village Church practicing church discipline on someone who annulled her marriage to an alleged child pornography addict. By the way if I can ask…what is it with Acts 29 and child pornography? I mean you had that situation with Jordan Root at The Village Church in Flower Mound, now you have this situation with Rick Trotter allegedly recording at least two underage females at Fellowship Memphis. I ask this out loud…is child pornography a “Gospel Centered” value of the Acts 29 network?


To ensure our congregations are fully informed, Fellowship Memphis (Fellowship) and Downtown Church (Downtown) have come together to provide a joint narrative with the facts as we understand them regarding Rick Trotter and his employment with our institutions.

Let us first say we are here for the victims. Trotter’s actions are contrary to our values, and we are deeply sorry for the suffering of the victims.

Trotter was employed as a Worship Director by Fellowship from August 2005 to February of 2010.  In February 2010, it was reported that Trotter was engaged in inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature at the corporate headquarters of Fellowship. Specifically, a single incident of Trotter recording people in a bathroom was reported. This was immediately reported to Fellowship’s lead pastor at the time. When confronted, Trotter did not deny the charges and was thereby terminated.

The individuals victimized, all adults, by this incident were notified of Trotter’s misconduct, made aware that he had been terminated, and asked whether they wanted to press charges. The victims were also offered independent professional counseling paid for by the church. It is our understanding that none of the victims at that time chose to press charges.

After Trotter’s termination, the church body was informed he was terminated. Upon termination, Fellowship Memphis decided to financially support Trotter’s wife and children along with paying for his three month in-treatment intensive counseling for sex addiction. Trotter was also told he was ineligible for rehire. After his three months of counseling, Trotter asked and was allowed to read a letter of apology confessing to sexual addiction along with other improprieties of a sexual nature to the members of the church body.

In August of 2011, Fellowship Memphis was contacted by Downtown Church about the possibility of Trotter joining their staff.  Prior to joining Downtown Church, elders and church leaders from both churches met to discuss the details concerning Trotter’s termination from Fellowship Memphis.  The leaders openly discussed Trotter’s prior sexual misconduct and the counseling he attended for sexual addiction.

Trotter gave permission for both parties to openly discuss his sexual misconduct. Downtown Church also spoke with several counselors, including two that worked closely with Trotter during his time in counseling, to determine the effectiveness of the treatment as well as his readiness to re-enter the ministry.  Downtown Church also met with Trotter and his wife to assess his readiness to re-enter the ministry as well as overall health.

As a condition of employment, Trotter was given an accountability plan and hired as a part-time subcontractor at Downtown Church in 2011. In 2014, Trotter requested to become a full-time employee and as a condition of full-time employment, was required to make a statement of full-disclosure before the members of Downtown Church. In Trotter’s disclosure, he admitted to the sexual misconduct and issues with voyeurism. Trotter began working full-time and remained in this position until his termination.

The current incident regarding Trotter is under criminal investigation. To ensure we do not disrupt any ongoing investigation or jeopardize the rights of anyone involved, especially the victims, we will refrain from discussing the details of the incident which caused his termination from Downtown Church.

We can state that when Downtown Church discovered an incident of sexual misconduct by Trotter, they immediately investigated the matter, terminated his employment, and turned the matter over to the sex crimes unit of the Memphis Police Department.

Downtown Church also contacted all of the victims (all adults) they could identify and encouraged them to seek independent outside counseling at the church’s expense. The church also told victims they would fully support them if they chose to press criminal charges, and then a congregational meeting was held to inform the body of Trotter’s misconduct and termination.

Obviously we cannot make comments regarding the current criminal investigation, but we will cooperate fully with the authorities to ensure that justice is found.

Thank you for your understanding and we are praying for all involved in this terrible situation.


John Bryson, Lead Pastor of Fellowship Memphis

Richard Rieves, Lead Pastor of Downtown Church