Can a church plant be the fruit of sin? Recently the New City Network of McLean Bible planted Mosaic City Church in a trendy and hopping area of Fairfax, Virginia. One of the partnering churches is Kenji Adachi’s All Peoples Community Church which was sponsored by Fellowship Memphis. Fellowship Memphis covered up the voyeurism and child pornography of its worship pastor Rick Trotter back in 2010 and it broke in 2016. Does the planting of churches that have connections to Fellowship Memphis reveal or show how the Southern Baptist Convention is struggling with sex abuse or sex crimes? These are questions that need to be asked.
“Everything is arranged so that it be this way, this is what is called culture.”
“Traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can’t even describe, aren’t even aware of.“
The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.
Zechariah 14:9 NIV
Today’s post deals with a recent church plant from McLean Bible’s New City Network. The church is called Mosaic City Church and is led by Aaron Nicholas. Its planted in one of the most hip and trendy areas of the Virginia side of the Washington, D.C. area. The location is called Mosaic and is quite popular. Mosaic is a community filled with apartments, restaurants and entertainment that grew around a Target. Many people forget that there is back side to Mosaic. In the Mosaic District you have the Angelika Film Center and restaurants of all flavors. I have actually taken family to Alta Strada which is located in Mosaic. On a Saturday night the area comes alive with Middle Eastern youth playing soccer in the cordoned off streets. In that picture up above there is a coffee house that I have grabbed espressos in. It was during that time that I watched some soccer being played. It was a reminder for me when life was simple and free of the responsibilities and worries of an adult. The New City Network has planted a church in this area and it raises a lot of questions that need to be asked.
The Story of Fellowship Memphis for Context in this Post
This post is going to connect the dots and ask some questions. So in order to do so we need to visit a dark scandal that The Wondering Eagle told. This will be a condensed narrative of a longer story. This story was reported by the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper, but many aspects were left out. When I told the story of Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis I worked with someone who helped plant the church and one of the sex crime victims who was upset and sick over what Fellowship Memphis allegedly covered up. In 2010 Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis was led by Bryan Loritts and John Bryson. It was the model of multi-ethnic church planting in the Acts 29 network. John Bryson was known for his Authentic Manhood. Myself, I used to listen to Bryan Loritts teach and preach in Campus Crusade for Christ when I attended the Christmas conferences and planted a chapter in Wisconsin. The worship leader in this scandal at Fellowship Memphis was Rick Trotter. Rick Trotter was also the voice of the Memphis Grizzles a pro-basketball team in Memphis.
In 2010 the worship pastor Rick Trotter who was into voyeurism placed a smart phone in the restroom of Fellowship Memphis and was illegally recorded females in their most private moments. In the process of recording people he also caught two minors, which means that Rick Trotter manufactured child pornography inside an Acts 29 church. This blog would conservatively estimate that about 100 people were captured on film. The smart phone was found, and the illicit footage was given to John Bryson. Bryan Loritts knew that his brother-in-law Rick Trotter was engaged in voyeurism as he did it in his own house and captured the Loritts family children. Bryan Loritts banned his brother-in-law from his home, but consequently believed he was good enough to lead worship. When this crime with voyeurism and child pornography occurred the leadership of Fellowship Memphis did not go to the Memphis Police with this sex crime. Instead what they did is have Rick Trotter meet with the victims and encourage the victims to forgive him. Then Rick Trotter was quietly let go. Rick Trotter allegedly went into “sex addiction” counseling and in 2011 he joined the staff of Downtown Church as led by Richard Rieves as a part time subcontractor. In 2014 he became part of the full time staff at Downtown Church. Trotter then resumed his voyeurism in the church restroom and continued from 2014 until 2016. The voyeurism ended when he was caught making an upskirt video in the middle of worship inside the church. It then was learned that he had recorded people in the restroom. This blog conservatively estimates that over a three period Rick Trotter recorded around 800 to 1000 people. When caught he was arrested and that is how the Fellowship Memphis scandal emerged. The victims of the Fellowship Memphis scandal spoke up, and people learned that this was not the first time Rick Trotter had engaged in this behavior. Rick Trotter was sentenced by the Tennessee judicial system for his deviant activity and is today on the sex offender registry. You can read the original posts I did which contain links to the Memphis Commercial Appeal and other news sources. Those posts are, “The Sordid Tale of Rick Trotter, Bryan Loritts, John Bryson and Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis and Downtown Presbyterian Church” and “Rick Trotter is Sentenced for Illegally Recording “UpSkirt” Videos at Richard Rieves Downtown Church and Goes on the Tennessee Sex Offender List; Plus Bryan Loritts Speaking Commitments Including my Former Church in California, The Bridge Fresno.”
What Pastors/Staff Knew What and Who Stayed Silent and Refused to Contact Police?
Now here is the question that needs to be asked. According to my sources who were well placed many pastors and people on the staff knew about the deviant crimes of Rick Trotter. Many knew that he had illicitly recorded people at Fellowship Memphis. However, many staff and pastors did not go to the police. They didn’t want to cross John Bryson and as they drew a paycheck from the organization they also didn’t want to jeopardize the church of their financially livelihood. So they stayed quiet and as a result they supported the cover up. One of the people who joined Fellowship Memphis was Kenji Adachi. He became an intern there in the 2015 to 2016 time-frame. You can see Kenji Adachi on staff of Fellowship Memphis in June of 2016 right before the Rick Trotter Fellowship Memphis scandal broke.
So here is the question that needs to be asked. Did Kenji Adachi know about the deviant sex crimes and did he stay silent? I want to be careful because I cannot say for certain that he knew. Likewise I also don’t want to engage in a false accusation, especially as the victim of one. Yet many pastors around him according to my sources did know about the situation at Fellowship Memphis. When I once emailed Kenji Adachi I received a very terse response in December of 2016. Plus I was also blocked on Twitter by All Peoples Community Church. I wrote about the situation in, “An Open Letter to Kenji Adachi (Senior Pastor of Acts 29 All Peoples Community Church in Fairfax, Virginia on my Concerns about your Fellowship Memphis Training and Other Issues).” But the question remains did Kenji Adachi know?
Enter Aaron Nichols and All Peoples Community Church as Led by Kenji Adachi
All Peoples Community Church started in September of 2016. I wrote a post about when Neo-Calvinists turn church planting into an idol in, “When Neo-Calvinist Church Planting Becomes Idolatry: Kenji Adachi and All Peoples Community Church.” All Peoples Community Church was supported by Fellowship Memphis. In that prior post you can see a video from Fellowship Memphis that announces Kenji Adachi’s church. Aaron Nichols was a student at nearby George Mason University from 2004 to 2008. While involved in George Mason’s Campus Crusade he got to know Kenji Adachi. Quick side note this writer has no respect for George Mason’s Crusade. I was mortified when I saw it was pushing places like Sovereign Grace Fairfax with all the allegations of child sex abuse cover-up which took place there. For example when a father had a history of sexually abusing his daughter the senior pastor Mark Mullery ordered the wife to have more sex with him, and to put a lock on the door to keep him out. Sovereign Grace Fairfax allegedly discouraged people from contacting law-enforcement. You can read more about this issues in Sovereign Grace Fairfax in, “Sinfully Craving a New Church Name? Sovereign Grace Fairfax Becomes Redeeming Grace Church.” Getting back to the narrative, so Aaron Nichols confessed his sin to Kenji Adachi when he was a local pastor. This blog believes that the church Kenji Adachi co-pastored is Ambassador Bible Church in Chantilly, Virginia. Ambassador is an Evangelical Free Church and this blog, The Wondering Eagle, focuses on the EFCA denomination. I have written about Ambassador Bible Church in, “Practicing Discernment: Analysis of Ambassador Bible Church’s Membership Covenant (Evangelical Free Church of America)” and “John Park of Ambassador Bible Church Preaches on Love. When Will Someone Tell this EFCA Pastor that Love is Largely Absent from Evangelicalism?“
Aaron Nichols obtained his Masters in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He became a pastoral resident in White Rock Fellowship also in Texas. The first church he pastored was an Evangelical Free in Trumball, Connecticut called Calvary Evangelical Free. Then with the help of All Peoples Community Church he moved to the Washington, D.C. area to plant a new church through the New City Network. Plus it should be noted that All Peoples is also Acts 29.
New City Network Plants Mosaic City Church with All Peoples Church Being One of the Supporters
Mosaic City Church was planted in September of 2017. It was officially launched and considered founded according to my research on September 16, 2018. Aaron Nichols was a pastoral resident of All Peoples Community Church. You can find a couple of his sermons at All Peoples Community Church in April 8, 2019 and February 25. The beliefs of Mosaic are in line with McLean Bible and All Peoples Community church. You can see the beliefs right here. Here you can see the membership requirements and covenant. You can hear more about the history of Mosaic City Church in the April 7, 2019 talk. It sounds like Kenji Adachi preaching. In writing about evangelicalism and much of the corruption within, I have had to listen to a large number of podcasts. The organizations that planted and supported Mosaic City Church include the New City Network, Send Network, and the Southern Baptists Conservatives of Virginia. Individual churches that support Mosaic City Church include McLean Bible Church here in the Washington, D.C. area. Also All Peoples Community Church here in the D.C. area supported Mosaic City Church. First Baptist Church of Norfolk, Virginia as well as Midway Baptist Church in Phenix, Virginia is also behind Mosaic. And the last supporting church is Cowboy Fellowship in Jordanstown, Texas.
Does This Pattern Help Illustrate Why the Southern Baptist Convention is Struggling with Sex Abuse and Allegations of Criminal Activity?
On the precipice of the annual Southern Baptist Convention a disturbing child sex abuse scandal broke out of Matt Chandler’s The Village Church. The New York Times covered it heavily. You can read this blog’s narrative and the story in, “A Disturbing Story of Alleged Sexual Abuse in The Village Church Involving Former Associate Children’s Minister Matt Tonne. Plus how Matt Chandler Responded to Christi Bragg” and “What are the Take Aways From the Newest Scandal at Matt Chandler’s The Village Church Involving the Allegation of Matt Tonne’s Sexual Abuse of a Minor?” Furthermore McLean Bible had a situation with an alleged sexual predator in its high school youth program called The Rock. So its pretty established that the Southern Baptist Convention struggles with sexual abuse.
Does the situation from Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis to All Peoples Community Church to Mosaic City Church show how the culture of sex abuse or sex crimes can be transferred from one organization to another? Can it show how the culture duplicates itself? After all Fellowship Memphis covered up sex crimes. Then church and church planters went forward without owning its mistakes or repenting of its sin. Evangelicals are all about confessing sin. The only ones who reject that teaching are the churches like Fellowship Memphis and possibly All Peoples Community Church which embrace that doctrine. So here is another question does this situation also show how many evangelical churches don’t accept their own teaching of sin? All Peoples Community Church is not the only situation coming out of Fellowship Memphis. Often I am amazed as to the level of cognitive dissonance that takes place in these entities. For example All Peoples Community Church is not the only one to have partnered with Fellowship Memphis. In writing about the EFCA in the North Central District of Minnesota a similar issue emerged with an Acts 29 church that was being supported by a ministry connected to John Bryson of Fellowship Memphis. You can read about that 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?”
This is the last question this blog wants to ask. Years ago Aaron Nichols sat down with Kenji Adachi and confessed his sin and issues. You can read about that conversation here in this blog post from the New City Network. Is it time for Kenji Adachi to do likewise? Is it time for Kenji to sit down in a face to face conversation and say, “Aaron there was criminal activity that took place at Fellowship Memphis. I knew, I heard about it from other people on staff. All I wanted to do is engage in church planting and come back to the D.C. area. Aaron I heard that child pornography was allegedly made. I heard about all this and could have gone to the Police. I should have done that, but I didn’t. I failed and screwed up. …” I have officially pushed back from many parts of evangelicalism as its too corrupt. Evangelicals talk a good game and fail to live to what they teach. They hammer others yet they refused to admit their own mistakes. But its time for churches to own their mistakes and repent. Fellowship Memphis needs to do that, so does McLean Bible. And if Kenji Adachi knew about the deviant sex crimes at Fellowship Memphis then All Peoples Community Church needs to own their sin also. When I get emails from people who ask about these churches the best advice I give people is to avoid churches like Mosaic City Church, All Peoples Community Church and Fellowship Memphis. It it the view of this writer that very few places are solid and healthy. And the inability of some of these places to discuss or talk frankly about these issues reveals how toxic they are.