Richard Rieves Returns from Sabbatical. Plus is Downtown Church in Financial Distress?

Richard Rieves is back in the pulpit at Downtown Church in Memphis, Tennessee after being away on a sabbatical. Meanwhile this blog would like to know if Downtown Church is experiencing financial hardship? Downtown is pleading for money and I am wondering if the church is hurting from the Rick Trotter scandal. Plus Fellowship Associates, which John Bryson is tied to is planting Immanuel Fellowship in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This is being done with the help of Bryan Lair’s Trinity City Church. This is deeply disturbing especially as I write that many evangelical churches need to be closed. There are many churches where criminal allegations have occurred, and if people cared about the Gospel they would walk away from them and shut them down. 

“An organization, no matter how well designed, is only as good as the people who live and work in it.

Dee Hock 

“The success of an organization will depend on the people you surround yourself with.

Donald Rumsfeld

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit,[e] striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.

Philippians 1:27-29 

There is news to cover from Richard Rieves Downtown Church in Memphis, Tennessee. This is the church that hired Rick Trotter even when they were warned about the scandal at Fellowship Memphis which was led by Bryan Loritts and John Bryson. If you want to read the original post about this dark scandal you can do so in, “The Sordid Tale of Rick Trotter, Bryan Loritts, John Bryson and Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis and Downtown Presbyterian Church.”  Let’s get into the news and discuss some updates. 


Richard Rieves Returns from Sabbatical

Richard Rieves is back at Downtown Church having been away for a four month sabbatical. I believe he spent the time in Great Britain. Downtown Church threw a 70’s themed party for Richard Rieves on May 4, 2018. Though according to the sermon history at Downtown Church he preached on May 23, 2018. He resumed preaching at Downtown Church on Sunday September 9, 2018. I do not know what Richard Rieves did on his sabbatical. But I hope he used the time to think long and hard about what happened at Downtown Church. I hope he contemplated how foolish it was to hire a sexual predator even when he was warned. Hopefully he thought long and hard about his daughter being one the victims of Rick Trotter from the church restroom where voyeurism took place. I hope he spent time thinking about all the females in the congregation who were needlessly placed at risk. Richard Rieves hiring Rick Trotter was one of the most negligent acts I have heard about. The Fellowship Memphis and Downtown Church scandals are some of the darkest stories I have written about here at The Wondering Eagle. 


Michael Davis and Gene Cashmen 

Is Downtown Church In Financial Hardship? 

There was something else that I noticed on Downtown Church’s webpage that needs to be looked at in more detail. The question The Wondering Eagle poses is this…is Downtown Church in a financial crisis? Recently Downtown Church put out an appeal for extra financial contributions. You can hear Michael Davis and Gene Cashmen above in the video. This is what is said on the church’s webpage

Dear family and friends of Downtown Church,

Many of you have seen or heard the recent financial updates from our church. Our leadership would like to clarify and assure you that we are not in debt or in a financial crisis. The financial communication was a mid-year update and only in relation to the current monthly operating deficit, not the overall finances of the church. The leadership intended to encourage our congregation to reduce the monthly operating deficit by way of increased giving. Additionally, while there is a very generous, anonymous donor who has offered to make a donation to help reduce our deficit, we have asked them to not make their donation amount dependent on a match from our congregation because we want to ensure that each of us may “give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Your leadership, administration, and finance committee has done an incredible job at stewarding the resources of a growing church, for which we are grateful for their diligence and transparency. If you have any questions, please contact one of our elders (Jed Hale, Cedric Calhoun, Rob Ward, or Josh Shelley). Again, the church is healthy from a financial standpoint; this mid-year message is addressing our 2018 mid-year deficit and is intended to encourage increased giving to drive that deficit down. We are trusting that the Lord will continue to faithfully provide for all our needs through the generosity of his people, as he has always done in the past.

The church is asking people to give more money. I am asking for someone in the Memphis area or former member of Downtown Church to send me the financials so that I can study them and write about them in detail. Is this church in a financial crisis? That is hard to say without seeing the numbers. That said, this also is a church that has experienced a lot of negative publicity in Memphis and from afar. I am continuing to write about this issue from Washington, D.C. So its quite possible in the wake of the Rick Trotter scandal that quite a few people have left and the church is in a slump financially. One thing I would like to know is the following. Is Richard Rieves supporting the victims from Rick Trotter with psychological counseling and support? And no I am not talking about Biblical counseling, Ed Welch or Christian Counseling & Education Foundation. All of that is pure garbage. This blog would like to know if Downtown Church is supporting the victims as they try and go forward. If someone knows about the financial condition of Downtown Church please email me at 



Trent Senske the lead pastor of Immanuel Fellowship in Minneapolis 

Fellowship Associates works with Acts 29 Trinity City Church to Plant Immanuel Fellowship in Minneapolis 

There is another element to the Fellowship Memphis story that is troubling. Fellowship Memphis has supported church plants either through that questionable Acts 29 outfit or through Fellowship Associates. This has happened inside the United States. For example this blog wrote about Kenji Adachi’s All Peoples Community Church in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Fairfax, Virginia. Fellowship Memphis planted that church and Kenji was involved at Fellowship when the cover-up was ongoing. There is another church plant that is taking place through Fellowship Associates that this blog has written about and will write about for the long term. In the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota Trent Senske is working at planting Immanuel Fellowship. This Acts 29 church in process is being sponsored by an Acts 29 and Evangelical Free Church of America church in Saint Paul which is called Trinity City Church. Trinity City Church is led by Bryan Lair. The first service at Immanuel Fellowship happened this past Sunday on September 16, 2018. This blog remains deeply concerned about the culture of Fellowship Memphis being transplanted in Minneapolis. The goal of this blog is to derail this church plant and keep people away. The Fellowship Memphis and Downtown Church scandal has hurt enough people. If you want to read more about Trinity City Church and Immanuel Fellowship you can read more in, “Acts 29 Trinity City Church Plants Immanuel Fellowship in Minneapolis with Fellowship Associates. Is the Culture that Led to the Alleged Cover-up of Voyeurism and Child Pornography in Fellowship Memphis Being Duplicated in the Twin Cities?


Fellowship Memphis and Downtown Church Need to Close 

There is one major flaw in evangelical theology which is not talked about or considered and it needs attention. Evangelicals love to talk about church planting. But none of them talk about closing churches or shutting them down when they should be. The goal of this blog is to close Downtown Church and Fellowship Memphis. From my sources I have heard that Fellowship Memphis is down substantially in members. The other day I learned that Downtown Church might be in a financial crisis. If that is the case that is good news as the amount of people hurt in both places is considerable and disturbing. When evangelical churches cover up child sex abuse, deviant sex crimes, sexual assault, financial crimes and more then its time for them to close. I remain deeply troubled by Trinity City Church in Saint Paul working with Fellowship Associates. If Bryan Lair and Trent Senske actually cared about God they would distance themselves from Fellowship Associates and John Bryson. This isn’t complicated, its pretty simple. Some of these issues I am addressing are alleged criminal activity in some of these places. If it was a school, bank, business or nursing home engaged in questionable or alleged criminal activity then federal or state authorities would intervene and they would be dealt with. Why does the secular world often have higher standard and ethics than many evangelical Christians or churches? Many evangelical Christians are ethically bankrupt. If they cared then I would not have to write many of the posts that I do at this blog. That is it for the day, know that you guys are loved. 

2 thoughts on “Richard Rieves Returns from Sabbatical. Plus is Downtown Church in Financial Distress?

  1. Anyone else find it interesting that Rieves’ sabbatical/paid European vacation started shortly after the conviction of Trotter and just prior to the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper’s expose on the coverup and “loss” of the evidence in the case? Also interesting that he returned shortly after the statute of limitations expired for the victims to sue him and the church for intentionally hiring a man (Rick Trotter) who they knew was filming women and children in the bathrooms at his previous church.


  2. If no one will show you the financials, Eagle, maybe they would be so kind as to tell you how much Rieves was paid to be on a 4-month vacation and who paid for his excursion? Pretty good gig to be able to be able to commit leadership malpractice, put your church in financial, and safety jeopardy, and then get your 4-month vacation paid for—doesn’t everybody’s job provide that kind of benefit? No wonder these idiots are having financial issues!

    Anybody who continues to give money to these scoundrels is dumber than a box of hammers!


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