With church attendance plummeting in 2020, Alan Scott, the new pastor of what was then Vineyard Anaheim, reportedly instituted salvation quotas for staff with spreadsheets recording how many people key staff had led to Christ.
Former Vineyard Anaheim College Pastor Cynthia Andrews told El Informe Roys (TRR) that Scott required her to spend more than half her work hours evangelizing, and expected a conversion rate of three people an hour. Unable to meet the conversion quotas, Andrews said she’d often stay at Walmart until late at night, trying to get people to pray a salvation prayer, her anxiety mounting.
“I would spend hours praying, begging God to let me see people come to faith,” she added. “I knew if I didn’t, Alan was going to be mad at me.”
Andrews now sees what Scott did as spiritually abusive. And she’s one of 11 former pastors, staff, and volunteers from three Vineyard churches where Scott pastored, who shared their stories of alleged abuse and manipulation with TRR.
Some told TRR of loyalty tests Scott would perform on staff, scheduling last-minute meetings to see who was dedicated enough to get a babysitter and show up. They told TRR that Scott claimed he could see people’s hidden sin, judged staff according to their body type, and blacklisted those he couldn’t control, saying they were blocking growth.
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These allegations come amid ongoing litigation of Scott’s decision to remove Vineyard Anaheim—Vineyard’s longtime, flagship church with an estimated $62 million in assets—from Vineyard USA, renaming it Dwelling Place. In a demanda judicial filed last November, former Vineyard Anaheim church and board members accused Scott of deceiving former board members in a premeditated plan to steal the church property.
Dwelling Place and the Scotts have denied the claims. And in court documents, they’ve argued that the “church autonomy doctrine” bars the government from interfering in ecclesial matters. The church has requested the case be dismissed, and a hearing on that motion is set for June 2.
To his congregation, Scott justified removing the church from Vineyard USA by claiming God led him to do it. Former staff told TRR that claiming divine direction to escape responsibility is typical for Scott.
“He’ll always make everything look very sovereign,” said Cynthia’s husband, Bradley Andrews, former manager of operations for the Vineyard Anaheim Compassion ministry. “Like, ‘This is what God is doing. I’m not doing anything.’ All negative emotion that’s coupled into this—it’s swept under the rug, like: ‘ This is what it takes to be a serious revivalist.’”
Scott did not respond to TRR multiple requests for an interview regarding allegations about his abusive leadership. The Dwelling Place board directed TRR to a March 10 statement on its website that denies the allegations in the lawsuit.
Greg Scherer, who is a Dwelling Place board member and the church’s HR volunteer, said Alan is a “really wonderful man.”
He added, “We’re in the middle of litigation with folks that are trying their best to find any crack in it, and from our perspective, to impugn Alan’s reputation, the church’s reputation.”
But Scherer said the church, which had dwindled to 400 prior to Scott’s arrival, is thriving in its true mission. A March church statement claimed attendance is higher at Dwelling Place than it was prior to the disassociation from Vineyard. However, neither Scherer, nor Dwelling Place responded to a request for current attendance numbers.
“(Scott) and his wife rescued our church from certain demise,” Scherer said. “We’re very much realigned with what our foundational purposes of a church were to actually go and preach the Gospel to all the world.””
Scott grew up “longing for a place to belong,” he once said on a Vineyard podcast. His father died when Scott was 9 months old, and his mother struggled to raise him and his two siblings on her own in a low-income part of Glasgow, Scotland. Scott became a Christian after watching the movie, “Jesus,” with a friend.
He later attended Street Mission, a church known for welcoming and accepting addicts, convicts, and new believers, said Gordon Collins, who grew up with Scott and also attended Street Mission. In the 1990s, Pastor Jim McManus led Street Mission to become part of Vineyard and renamed the church Glasgow Vineyard.
Around the mid-1990s, McManus left and Alan’s brother, John, became pastor of Glasgow Vineyard. Meanwhile, Alan Scott went to Bible college but returned a few years later to take an informal leadership role at the church, said Collins.
Then, scandal rocked the church. John Scott publicly confessed to engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a married female member of the church, Collins said. This was confirmed by another former Glasgow church member, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.
John stepped down as pastor, Collins said, and Alan Scott handled the fallout. This included managing numerous complaints about the Scotts’ controlling and manipulative leadership, Collins said. Alan Scott responded by chastising Collins for complaining about church leaders, reminding Collins of his subordinate place, Collins said.
Collins then mailed a letter describing Alan Scott’s alleged manipulation, control, and dishonesty to Martyn Smith, a prominent pastor, who at the time oversaw Northern England and Scottish Vineyard churches. Smith didn’t answer Collins’ letter, but instead held a church meeting, telling church members they needed to stop speaking against their leaders, Collins claimed.
For the next 25 years, John Scott preached in Vineyard churches around the world, including one where his brother Alan pastored.
TRR reached out to Vineyard Churches UK and Ireland (VCUKI) to ask whether John Scott went through any sort of restoration process, but VCUKI would not comment on the specifics. We also reached out to John Scott and Martyn Smith for comment, but neither one responded.
By 1999, Scott and singer/songwriter wife Kathryn Scott, moved to Northern Ireland and planted Causeway Coast Vineyard (CCV). Scott led it from a church of six into a megachurch using his “Scattered Servants” model of evangelism and physical healing, according to his libro.
Then in 2017, the Scotts moved to Orange County, Calif., without a job. Scott claimed in a grabación of a 2021 pastoral training session at Vineyard Anaheim that he received “35 or 37” prophetic words telling him to move to Southern California. But 2017 was also the year Vineyard Anaheim’s senior pastor was expected to resign, according to the lawsuit against Scott and Dwelling Place.
Scott told the Vineyard Anaheim elders he didn’t want to pastor the church, the lawsuit states. But then Scott inquired about Vineyard Anaheim’s assets, and a few months later, applied for the senior pastor position and got it, the suit adds.
Many Vineyard Anaheim church members were excited about Scott’s hiring and believed he would bring revival to the dwindling congregation, said Claire Edmondson, one of Scott’s first hires as a youth pastor. Edmondson is the granddaughter of Bob and Penny Fulton, founding leaders in the Vineyard movement. She told TRR that she had interned at CCV under Scott, and at the time of Scott’s hiring, “would’ve followed Scott anywhere.”
But Scott immediately began cleaning house, ridding the church of anyone he deemed too sinful, uncool, and too much into the homeschooling world, Edmondson said. He called the former staff the “B team,” she added, and looked instead for people he deemed “marked by God” or “seared by the anointing of God.”
Four years later, Scott quickly and without “transparent accountability,” led the church out of the Vineyard Movement in what Vineyard USA (VUSA) leadership llamado an “extreme betrayal.”
Scott’s disassociation from VUSA prompted over a dozen alleged victims of Scott’s spiritual abuse from Europe and the United States to tell VUSA their allegations, VUSA stated.
Many of these same alleged victims also contacted TRR.
“(Victims) indicated that the dismissive, overspiritualized, and controlling language used in the correspondence (between the Scotts and VUSA) was reflective of their experiences with the Scotts and their team,” VUSA stated. “This led them to share their personal accounts of spiritual abuse and manipulation with Vineyard USA.”
A Pattern of Control
Those who talked to TRR described Scott as a pastor who built successful churches at the expense of staff. From his earliest days in Scotland in the 1990s, Scott led with an air of authority and puritanical control, said Gordon Collins.
Scott often drew young people to himself with a promise of mentorship, added several former staff and mentees of Scott’s.
One of those mentored by Scott was Luke Martin, who told his story on a recent episode of The Creed and Culture Podcast. Martin declined to speak with TRR. But in the podcast, he described Scott’s leadership as “manipulative” and “controlling.”
“It was an environment where it was OK if you were going along with what the leader was saying,” Martin said. “But as soon as you started to have doubts about what he was saying, that wasn’t appreciated. I raised concerns about this guy, which were ignored for 17 years.”
Former Vineyard Anaheim College Pastor Cynthia Andrews said she was 22 when a church staff member invited her to a group dinner on Scott’s behalf. That night, Scott told her that he’d seen prophesies about her, Andrews said. Later, Scott told her she’d passed his tests of trust, she added. And before long, Scott reportedly became her “spiritual father,” claiming to have “secret insight” into her future.
But one day, Andrews accepted an invitation to speak at another church’s youth group without seeking Scott’s permission. Andrews said Scott raised his voice and accused her of breaking his trust. She’d seen what happened when people broke trust: Scott would push them out of his inner circle and spiritualized his decision by saying God removed his favor from the person. Then he’d marginalize other staff who spoke to the mistrusted staff member, she said
At both CCV and Vineyard Anaheim, Scott considered himself an apostle with God-like knowledge, Andrews and former CCV Business Manager Donna Finney told TRR. For example, Scott would say he could hear what people were saying about him inside their homes, Andrews and Finney said in separate interviews.
“Within the first or second time of meeting us, he told us that he could tell what our sins were before meeting us,” said Finney. “He would also declare regularly that we were likely to dream about him, and if we did, he represented God in our dreams.”
Scott’s word was final, and he wouldn’t allow anyone to criticize leaders because it wouldn’t “honor” leaders, said both Andrews and Finney.
Finney added that when a male church member made an accusation of child abuse against a spouse, Finney reported the matter to authorities. The matter was quickly resolved, she said. But Scott reprimanded her because he wanted to be the one to decide what to do, she said.
“He was so angry with me, he just got up and banged my table and said, ‘I will make the decision going forward,’” Finney said.
Other times, Alan would correct prayers or ministry stories shared in staff meetings to fit whatever prophetic theme he’d established, said Claire Edmondson.
“Alan would say, ‘This was the year of glory. This was the year of repentance. This is the month of mercy,’” she said. “If you shared a theme on repentance, but we’re not in the repentance season, then that story is overlooked or even corrected.”
Volunteers were required to attend Vineyard Anaheim’s Encounter School of Mission (ESOM), said Nancy Bray, long-time Vineyard Anaheim member and volunteer, and a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Bray said ESOM’s director Daniel Henderson told her that students would need to be ready during meetings with Scott to share life-changing stories of God moving. If they didn’t have one, Henderson said they should make one up, Bray claimed.
Henderson did not respond to a request by TRR para comentarios.
Scott also created a loyalty culture, sources said. While at his church in Ireland, Scott asked staff to “bleed CCV,” Finney said. Scott also required staff members to tithe, asking Finney to report to him any staff or leaders who weren’t giving 10% of their income to the church. Then Scott would call out people he didn’t think were generous enough in staff meetings, she added.
Or worse, he’d use staff members to attack each other, Edmondson alleged. Scott required staff to write up harsh criticisms of each other, asking staff to redo them if they didn’t give enough criticism, she said.
Body Type Personalities
Scott wanted to see a church filled with leaders—but only leaders matching certain personality types identified using something called bioenergetics, said Cynthia Andrews.
The bioenergetics Scott used is based on the teachings of Scottish speaker Jim McNeish, OMS teaches that different body types—slender, those with sunken chests, heavy, athletic—are tied to personalities.
Scott’s least favorite body type was “Type 3 men or women,” who have large torsos and thin legs, according to a recording TRR obtained from a June 2021 Vineyard Anaheim staff meeting. This “wrong type” is likely “sowing the seeds for the demise” of a ministry, Scott said 29 minutes into the recording, and is power-hungry and forceful.
In 2019, Scott fired a church secretary simply because she had a Type 3 body, said Cynthia Andrews.
The staff member, Anna Earl, told TRR that HR representative Greg Scherer told her she was doing a great job. But just two months into her job, the church fired Earl.
Earl said she asked her supervisor, Stephanie Hurst, why she was being fired. Hurst reportedly told Earl that Scott claimed God had told him that Earl wasn’t supposed to be on staff. Earl said she hadn’t had a single conversation with Scott when this happened.
Hurst did not respond to a TRR request for comment. However, Scherer said Earl’s contract wasn’t renewed because the church decided to do away with her position.
But Andrews said Scott told her that Earl was a Type 3 body type, so she wasn’t “our culture.”
Andrews added that Scott also said Debrianna DeBolt, wife of well-known worship drummer Noah DeBolt, was a Type 3.
The DeBolts, who both served at the church, told TRR that they had raised concerns about Scott’s teachings with both Scott and Jeremy Riddle, a well-known worship leader and Vineyard Anaheim staff member.
Not long after, Riddle said in a voice message compartido con TRR that the DeBolts should probably resign and “rest.”
The DeBolts told TRR that they left Vineyard Anaheim confused, wondering what they’d done wrong.
Jeremy Riddle didn’t respond to TRR request for comment on this situation.
Scherer said Dwelling Place doesn’t discriminate against body types, and that Scherer himself is a type 3.
“I understand people are looking for explanations to cover pain, but it’s just not true,” Scherer said.
Increased pressure to perform
By 2019, Vineyard Anaheim was growing, reaching around 1,200 by the end of the year, Andrews said. Jeremy Riddle, had joined the staff and people were beginning to take notice. But then 2020 hit, attendance plummeted, and Scott reportedly initiated conversion quotas.
In 2021, the numbers were still down to about 800, Cynthia Andrews said. Her husband, Bradley Andrews, said Scott prophesied that in two years, the church would grow to 20,000. And Scott made growth a stipulation for everyone who wanted to keep their jobs, Cynthia Andrews said.
At the five-minute mark in a recorded June 2021 staff meeting, Scott said, “Anytime you throw challenge at leaders they say, ‘I was made to be a martyr . . . I want to lay down my life.’ . . . Leaders are like, ‘Give me a war.’ If leaders can’t find a war they’ll make a war . . . Otherwise what are you leading? You’re not taking any territory at all.”
En a separate Oct. 19, 2021 staff meeting recording at the 11:42 mark, Scott tells staff, “I need you to step up . . . If it’s not growing . . . you’ve got to do your own fasting. If you haven’t caught it this time around, this is the last pass.”
During this time, Edmondson said she witnessed Scott push out more than a dozen people. She was afraid of making a mistake, scared of “numbers dropping,” she said.
“He wanted it to be a house and a symbol of revival, and it wasn’t happening,” Edmondson said. “ He turned up the heat. He wanted the American dream.”
In a June 2021 journal entry Edmondson shared with TRR, she wrote, “New people keep coming in, some with previous church hurt. And they come in so excited for what the Lord is doing and for the leadership of this house. How it’s so ‘different’ from their past experiences. And all I can think of is RUN.”
By March 2022, Cynthia Andrews said she reported Scott’s “toxic” and “abusive” leadership to HR volunteer Greg Scherer. She said she told Scherer she was “scared” of Scott. Scherer acknowledged Scott’s toxic behaviors, Andrews said, and said he was scared of Scott, too.
However, Scherer told TRR that no one formally reported Scott’s abuse and characterized his interactions with people like Andrews as “nothing other than conversations in hallways.”
Scott enacts strict purity guidelines
With pressure mounting for revival, Scott instituted strict purity guidelines for his church, Andrews said.
An 18-year-old intern told Andrews that she’d had sex with her boyfriend before her internship started. Scott’s new, more stringent guidelines demanded that Andrews turn the woman into Scott for her past sexual history.
Andrews said the woman was repentant, but Scott removed her from the internship anyway. Scott also reportedly told Andrews that the woman could attend church only if she confessed before the staff what she did “in detail.” The woman refused and left, Andrews said.
In 2021, Scott required his staff to ask volunteers if they had ever masturbated, Andrews said. Scott said if they’d masturbated within the past year, the volunteers would have to wait a year to volunteer, Andrews said.
Andrews told Scott she wasn’t comfortable asking her 19-year-old male volunteer about masturbation. Scott insisted, so Andrews did it and the man cried, while confessing to her, Andrews said.
Then, Scott seemingly changed his mind and said that because Scott had masturbated until he was 21, he could make an exception for this man until he turned 21, Andrews said.
By late 2021, Edmondson was struggling with the toxicity. Like Andrews, she said she’d tried to report her concerns to HR with no change. In March 2022—right after Vineyard Anaheim left VUSA—Edmondson said she’d lost confidence in the board being able to hold Scott accountable and she resigned.
Multiple investigations but no resolution
Last November, concerns raised about Vineyard Anaheim compelled Vineyard USA to engage Guidepost Solutions to conduct a Vineyard-wide institutional assessment, which is ongoing, said Nicole Dill, VUSA communications director. VCUKI and Causeway Coast Vineyard have also jointly launched a third-party investigation into allegations about Scott, which is also ongoing, according to their statement.
VUSA also turned over the allegations about Scott to Dwelling Place’s leadership “multiple times,” according to VUSA’s statement. But Dwelling Place reportedly isn’t cooperating and has told VUSA that it has no right to get involved.
Dwelling Place also launched an investigation led by attorney Gina Miller with law firm Snell and Wilmer, according to an email exchange between Dwelling Place, Bradley Andrews, and Miller. Snell and Wilmer is the same law firm that is defending Scott in the suit with former Vineyard Anaheim members. The Dwelling Place board emailed TRR stating their investigation “found nothing worthy of further investigation.”
The board added, “We further believe that ongoing vague secondhand rumors of offense should be handled in a biblical manner with those involved, not in the media.”
Former staff, however, say they’ve exhausted all other means of holding Scott accountable and now believe going public is their only recourse. Edmondson said it grieves her to publicly call Scott to account, but she believes it’s necessary for the health of the church.
“If we want to see the church made new, we need to start over and call others to true repentance and restoration,” Edmondson said. “Revival is not coming in the way I anticipated, but I still hope maybe this could bring around what we were expecting in the first place.”
*Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that Claire Edmondson is John Wimber’s granddaughter. The story has also been updated to correctly identify where the Scotts’ earlier church was founded.
Rebecca Hopkins es una periodista radicada en Colorado.