Following their split from Vineyard USA earlier this year, California church leaders now face a $62 million fraud lawsuit. Vineyard co-founder Carol Wimber-Wong, along with eight former members and leaders, allege that the Scotts “sought the position as Senior Pastors of Vineyard Anaheim with the deceitful motive of controlling tens of millions of dollars of assets and disassociating with Vineyard USA.”
In February, Alan Scott announced that the Holy Spirit was leading him to split Vineyard Anaheim from the charismatic denomination. “We don’t really understand why,” he said. “We don’t always know what’s on the other side of obedience.” The Scotts renamed the congregation the Dwelling Place.
The move was significant because Vineyard Anaheim “is the mother church of the Vineyard movement,” according to Vineyard USA. (Wimber-Wong and her late husband, John Wimber launched the movement in 1977.) When the Scotts were hired to lead the flagship congregation, they reportedly expressed commitment to the denomination, saying they were “Vineyard through and through.”
Lawsuit Points to $62 Million in Assets
The lawsuit, filed November 10 in Orange County Superior Court, alleges that the Kathryn and Alan Scott “concealed their true intentions” during the hiring process. Plaintiffs say the couple hid their desire to leave Vineyard so they could access the congregation’s $55 million mortgage-free building and its $7 million bank account.
According to Christianity Today, the Scotts indicated as far back as 2017 that they were finished with Vineyard. But after learning about the openings in Anaheim, they allegedly changed their tune. Although the hiring committee didn’t know about the couple’s qualms with the denomination, several members reportedly asked point-blank about their dedication.
“They had no intention of applying for the vacant senior pastor position[s] until learning of the Anaheim Vineyard’s substantial assets,” reads the lawsuit, which claims the Scotts “misled the Anaheim Vineyard Search Committee and board of directors.” It also alleges that the couple’s actions deprived members “of a church they have long called home” and “caused great emotional and spiritual distress.”
Kathryn and Alan Scott Deny Allegations and Any ‘Evil Intent’
In statements on the Dwelling Place website, the Scotts say they knew a lawsuit was a “possibility” but “hoped to avoid a public airing of ecclesiastical issues.” They add: “We understand that our disassociation from [Vineyard USA] has caused strong emotions, but we didn’t expect individuals to attribute evil intent in the hearts of Alan and Kathryn Scott during their 2018 appointment process, or to deem the board’s decision to disassociate from [Vineyard USA] four years later improper. The accusations in the complaint couldn’t be further from the truth.”