In a move that has “grieved” Vineyard USA, Vineyard Anaheim, the “mother church” of the movement, has announced that it is officially disassociating from the charismatic denomination.
Alan Scott, who with his wife, Kathryn, has led Vineyard Anaheim for four years, made the announcement Sunday morning, according to a statement from Vineyard USA.
“This morning, Vineyard Anaheim told their congregation during their church service that they are officially disassociating from Vineyard USA,” Jay Pathak, the national director of Vineyard USA, wrote.
“I want to bring you up to speed on the things that have been happening over the past few weeks in relationship to this deeply grievous and unfortunate moment.”
Pathak said the Scotts informed the denomination of their decision to disassociate three weeks ago and sent an email to their church less than 24 hours later. Despite Vineyard USA’s requests for dialogue, the Vineyard Anaheim board “refused to sit down” for an “on-the-record” conversation “on the grounds that such a conversation would not be ‘relational’ or ‘honoring’ but could only be ‘structural and legal,'” he said.
“We disagree wholeheartedly. We do not believe that there is a dichotomy between relationality and accountability in church life, any more than there is in a marriage or a family,” Pathak said. “We believe that, given the way that this conversation was made public by Vineyard Anaheim’s initial announcement of their disassociation, it was necessary to have the conversation in a manner that ensured transparency and accountability.”
The Scotts have not given a specific reason for their decision. An official statement posted on the Vineyard Anaheim website states that the church’s leadership “heard the invitation and direction of the Spirit (through scripture, counsel, prophecy, evidence of grace, and circumstance) to do what we have always done: take another step of faith and risk.”
“It is clear to us that this new step lies outside the Vineyard movement,” the statement reads. “We wish to clarify that this is not a rejection of Vineyard values, theology or praxis, but our best effort to respond to the distinct calling on our church at this time, and a desire to say yes to the Spirit.”
Vineyard Anaheim was planted in 1977 by John Wimber and is widely considered to be “the mother church” of the Vineyard movement, which today is a network of over 1,500 churches worldwide.
The denomination seeks to “blend the best of the Evangelical traditions with their focus on Christ-like character and regard for the Scriptures, with the best of the Pentecostal and Charismatic traditions of welcoming the empowering of the Holy Spirit for life, ministry, and acts of service.”
In a statement to The Christian Post, Pathak said that while Vineyard Anaheim was not the first Vineyard church, it was “undoubtedly the church through which the Vineyard movement was built, hosting conferences for Vineyard leaders at least twice a year through the 1980s and 1990s.”
“Thousands of pastors and leaders who call the Vineyard movement their family have had profound, life-shaping encounters with God at Vineyard Anaheim,” he said.
In his public letter, Pathak said that as a result, many in the denomination feel the Scotts’ decision to be one of “extreme betrayal.” He said many associated with Vineyard USA “have personal ties with the remaining members of the Wimber family, and have deep sympathy for their pain and outrage in regard to this decision.”
“This church was built and paid for by the contributions of generations of Vineyard people, as well as by the donation to Vineyard Anaheim of the building that housed Vineyard Ministries International and Vineyard Music. It is a place of deep spiritual heritage for all of us who consider ourselves a part of the Vineyard movement,” he said.
Christy Wimber, John Wimber’s former daughter-in-law, said in an Instagram video that though the move is “confusing,” she’s “not at all” surprised.
“The Scotts are very intentional,” she said. “Listen, I love them. They’re my brother and sister in Christ but love and agreement are two totally different things. … They’ve been very intentional to have that church. Very intentional in what they’re doing now, and they have a plan going forward … my challenge to you is, ask the Lord for some discernment.”
She reminded viewers that while the decision is “heartbreaking,” Vineyard Anaheim is “just a building.”
“That church is not a sign of what God’s doing in ‘the Church’… God is much bigger than a church and a couple of people … humility goes a long way, and the ego is so powerful and we have to be careful. … if it’s left unchecked, it can do a lot of damage.”
© The Christian Post