2013 - Present:
Updated history coming soon!
Membership at Downtown grew to just over 90 & average weekly attendance reached the 190's. Downtown Kids & the Flipside Elementary Ministry grew to over 40 kids. There were also 2 adult baptisms & 2 infant baptisms in 2012. Downtown Church & Lucy Berry received the 3-year Urban Youth Initiative Grant in August 2012, which will support ministry to kids Downtown at Gordon Elementary & the MAM Greenlaw Community Center. Due to the incredible growth at DC, leaders began the search for a new worship site in the fall of 2012. We are excited to see how God will use Downtown in years to come.
Membership at Downtown grew to just over 60 & average weekly attendance was around 140, which included many visitors, a number of our homeless friends, & around 30 children. Our staff grew in proportion to the ministry at Downtown: Chris Davis came on staff as Teaching Pastor in January 2011, Kate Conkling was hired as the new director of operations in February 2011, Susan Nash raised support to offer her nearly 25 years’ experience as a ministry consultant, Lucy Berry began work as our Children’s Director in July 2011 & is currently raising support, and Rick Trotter come on as Interim Worship Leader in August 2011. Ray Charles Davenport began the Walking in Faith homeless ministry in January 2011. WIF has quadrupled its volunteer force as it has grown from serving 13 homeless friends to around 60 friends on a weekly basis and has helped 4 friends enter recovery programs, 6 friends find work, and 1 friend find housing. Beginning with the September launch of Community Groups, around 70 people met weekly to study God’s Word & grow in community with one another. The Connection, meals for Advance Jobs for Life students, monthly brunches, mentors for Streets Ministries, Christmas GIVE, Diaper Days at Downtown, and RYM Camp each developed as central ministries at Downtown. The congregation was deeply involved downtown, and nearly 100% of attendees & members volunteered in the church & community. World outreach also began as we supported Kelsey Martin in her work with Women of Hope International in Sierra Leone & the Ingers as they prepared0. to go to India long-term. In February 2011 our first annual Q Up the Music fundraiser was held in support of the worship ministry. Downtown began its first stewardship season in December 2011. God greatly blessed the ministry of Downtown in 2011!
Andreana Brown was hired as director of operations and a worship service was started on Sunday evenings at 5 p.m. in January of 2010. They met in a storefront building located at 525 S Main, next door to Earnestine and Hazel’s. Different dynamics such as music, worship style, and community were worked and struggled through as God brought more and more people to the church. It was during this time that the name, Downtown Presbyterian, was chosen and the vision was clearly communicated through weekly worship. The core group began to grow to resemble the different neighborhoods of downtown. This core grew to a size of fifty or so weekly attendees and the group began to organize. In October of 2010 an official and public launch was advertised. Matt Tutor was hired as the worship leader and directed to create worship music with a distinct Memphis sound. Approximately 150 people attended the launch held at the new worship site located in a refurbished warehouse at 456 Tennessee Street.
Planning a Downtown Church:
Leaders at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis have been impassioned by the need for more gospel-centered churches in the Mid-South Region for more than a decade. In 2007 Richard Rieves, a native Memphian, was four years into planting his second church but had dreamed for years of a church in downtown Memphis. While leaders at Second EPC were beginning to focus their attention downtown, they met Richard through a mutual connection, and the rest is history. The vision from the start was to target all of the diverse peoples of downtown, trusting God to unite them all in one church. When Richard and his family moved downtown in June of 2008, he began building relationships in every segment of downtown, from the Claiborne/Foote Homes to Harbor Town and all points in between. Bible studies were started at Advance Memphis and in the core business district. Much time and attention was given to researching other multi-ethnic, multi-class churches. Richard moved forward with great intentionality knowing that God had to gather a people around the vision who were moved by the gospel to buy in to a church that would be so different and challenging. He knew that an essential element of the success of the mission depended upon God gathering a core group that resembled and represented every segment of downtown. An initial core group of about thirty people attended the first vision-casting meeting in December of 2009.