2014 - 2019 Youth Ministry



We are currently undergoing an investigation of our youth ministry from 2014-2019.  A third-party investigator has been hired to explore the harm students and volunteers experienced during that time. This situation was initially explored in 2021 through a pastoral inquiry. Those who experienced harm (the victims) have asked for a more extensive investigation and The River’s board and senior leaders have agreed that this action is necessary.

All experiences are important to us in the pursuit of truth and healing. We hope that anyone with information to share will feel comfortable to do so in the current investigation.


The investigation is being conducted by The Stier Group and led by Amy Stier. Ms. Stier has worked extensively with church cultures and has particular expertise in trauma-informed ministry and investigations. Throughout the entire process, names of victims will remain confidential and will not be shared with The River Church Community. You can contact Amy at amy@thestiergroup.com withy any questions or concerns.

You can read a letter from Amy Stier about the scope and expected timeline of the investigation at the link below. In that letter is also more information about Amy Stier's background, as well as that of the other members of the investigative team. 
Investigation Announcement from Stier Group
If you are unsure if a story or experience you have had (or observed) is relevant to the investigation, the Stier Group has put together a survey which they will use to help identify who is helpful to talk to as well as to better understand the general culture at The River related to abuse.
Survey from Stier Group



April 18, 2024 Statement from River Board Chair

The Board and Senior Pastoral Staff became aware Friday, through being contacted by local news outlets for comment, that our former youth pastor Brett Bymaster, who departed our staff in 2019, was arrested by the San Jose Police. We believe his arrest on criminal charges relates to alleged misconduct intersecting his tenure at The River, which is also the subject of the ongoing third party investigation opened in January and led by Amy Stier, and our previous pastoral inquiry in 2021.

Our hearts break for this situation and the pain it has caused. We are deeply saddened by this news and continue to express our concern and prayers for the young persons who bravely raised their voices, for all abuse victims, and our entire church community during these distressing times.

Prior to the release of the criminal charges and related law enforcement reports, we did not have specific information about the details of the alleged misconduct leading to Brett’s arrest and incarceration. We can tell you that if you were in the small group gatherings that followed the announcement of the third party investigation, we communicated to you the most egregious conduct that we were aware of at that point.

In January when we launched The Stier Group investigation, the San Jose Police Department contacted our leadership team. We have and will continue to offer full and transparent cooperation with all law enforcement authorities. Police are asking anyone with information about this case to call Detective Camarillo of the San Jose Police Department Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force at 408-273-2959, or email 4576@sanjoseca.gov

We also remain dedicated to supporting all victims and their families and pursuing justice and accountability wherever the facts may lead.

And we continue our commitment to organizational improvement so that we can move forward together in learning, prayer, fellowship, and healing.

We trust that you understand that this is an ongoing and naturally unpredictable process, but we commit to providing as much candor as we possibly can.

Community Support

Investigations can be stressful for a community. So, we urge everyone to take a posture of prayerful patience and compassion. To those who carry the scars of trauma, we pray for comfort and healing.  

We took time on Sunday, January 28th to address this as a community and created spaces for small group conversations in the initial weeks after the investigation was announced. If you were unable to participate in one of these but would be helped by a conversation with a pastor or board member, please let us know by reaching out to boardchair@the-river.org.

To help streamline communication related to this process, you can direct questions to boardchair@the-river.org. You can also contact a specific staff or board member and their information can be found here.

Victim Assistance

Our priority, in the original pastoral inquiry and in this current investigation, is the support and healing of those who have been harmed. If you have an experience to share, we encourage you to contact Ms. Stier to help give her a full picture of what occurred in our youth ministry. 

We understand and respect that some of you may be hesitant to engage with this process and we would like to support you in any way we can. We are happy to provide someone to pray with you. We have also thought through protective steps for those who might feel vulnerable. Please email victimsupport@the-river.org for more information on either of these offerings. If you would benefit from processing your experience with a professional counselor, we have set aside funds for this purpose, please email counseling@the-river.org for more information.

The information provided to the investigators will inform a final report which will be made public on our website.

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