Former Vineyard Anaheim Members Sue, Accusing New Pastors of $62 Million Fraud

Por Sarah Einselen
alan scott dwelling place
A lawsuit claims Alan and Kathryn Scott. pastors of Dwelling Place (formerly the Anaheim Vineyard), lied and defrauded the church's former members. (Video screen grab)

In its heyday, Vineyard Anaheim served as the flagship of a worldwide, charismatic movement. Now, the church has left the Vineyard, taking with it $62 million in assets. And according to a lawsuit filed this month by former church members, the exodus was part of a premediated plan by current church leaders to deceive and defraud.

In the suit, the widow of Vineyard founder John Wimber and eight other former members of Vineyard Anaheim-Ahora el Dwelling Place—accuse current church pastors and board members of fraud, misrepresentation, and breach of fiduciary duty.

Named as defendants are Dwelling Place Lead Pastors Alan and Kathryn Scott, Worship Pastors Jeremy and Katie Riddle, and the church’s other board members—Banning Leibscher, lead pastor of Jesus Culture Sacramento; and Julian Adams, co-lead pastor of The Table Boston Church.

The Anaheim church was the charismatic movement’s guiding light for decades before splitting from Vineyard USA a principios de este año.

Board members gave no reason for the departure other than “saying ‘yes’ to the Holy Spirit.”

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John Carol Wimber
John and Carol Wimber (Photo: Vineyard USA)

But Vineyard leaders at the time called the church’s departure an “extreme betrayal.” Wimber’s widow, Carol Wimber-Wong, also accused Alan and Kathryn Scott of “actions that are screaming dishonor.”

Now, Wimber-Wong, her daughter, four former Vineyard Anaheim directors, and three other former church members claim the Scotts lied to the church’s board of directors when they were hired.

The suit accuses the Scotts of replacing the old church board with yes-men who would let them use the church’s assets to “start and fund a new movement,” instead of leading the worldwide Vineyard movement as Anaheim had done since 1982.

The lawsuit estimates the church’s assets, including real estate, are worth $62 million. The church owns multiple buildings on 5.7 acres in Orange County, California.

Wimber-Wong and the other plaintiffs said en una oracion that they tried to resolve “this painful matter” before going to court, but were “left with no choice.”

Longtime church donors did not pay off the church mortgage so the Scotts could “remove the church from the Vineyard family and abscond with the assets,” they added in the statement.

The defendants have not yet responded to the suit in court, a case summary shows. But the Scotts recently addressed the lawsuit in a video and statement en el sitio web de la iglesia.

“The accusations in the complaint couldn’t be further from the truth,” the Scotts and the board of Dwelling Place Anaheim claimed.

Board members have known for months that a lawsuit could be filed “and had hoped to avoid a public airing of ecclesiastical issues,” according to the statement.

“We have sought to handle this process honorably, relationally, and biblically. But our efforts have not been fruitful, and we are now on a pathway we didn’t choose or desire.”

The lawsuit “grieves us and saddens us,” Alan Scott also said in the video. “This is not honoring to the Lord at all.”

Vineyard USA is not party to the lawsuit. The association clarified in a statement Tuesday that it knew about the lawsuit, but the plaintiffs are acting independently.

Vineyard USA’s role in the church’s departure has been limited to providing pastoral care and support, according to its statement.

Scott installed new board to carry out ‘true intentions,’ suit alleges

Plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit that Alan and Kathryn Scott knew they didn’t want to be part of the Vineyard movement even before they accepted the senior pastorate at what was then Vineyard Anaheim.

Vineyard Dwelling Place
Alan and Kathryn Scott

According to the suit, Alan Scott had learned from Vineyard Anaheim’s senior associate pastor, Mike Safford, that the church had more than $55 million in real estate and millions more in the bank. Scott had reportedly told Safford that he wasn’t interested in pastoring Vineyard Anaheim or staying with the Vineyard movement when Lance Pittluck, the church’s former pastor, retired.

The lawsuit claims Alan Scott also wrote to Vineyard USA’s national director in May 2017, telling him that “after 29 years of connection with the tribe, we have arrived at the painful conclusion that we won’t be part of a local vineyard church in the next part of our journey.”

But months later, in December, Alan Scott applied to lead the church, according to the lawsuit. He told board members interviewing him that he was “Vineyard through and through” and “would never take this house out of the Vineyard Movement,” the lawsuit alleges.

No one told the board or the search committee that the Scotts had “effectively disassociated” from the Vineyard movement, the lawsuit states. And one former board member states in the suit that “if the Scott Defendants had ever represented that they would leave the Vineyard Movement, the Board and Search Committee would never have hired the Scott Defendants.”

The Scotts were hired in January 2018 as the senior pastors, according to the lawsuit. Then from 2019 to 2021, the suit alleges, Alan Scott “slowly and methodically persuaded board members that did not blindly support him to resign” or abstain from seeking another term on the board.

The suit claims the Scotts “concealed their true intentions” of leaving the Vineyard movement and essentially defrauded the church of their salary, plus some $200,000 in the plaintiffs’ tithes, since the Scotts were hired.

It also accuses Alan Scott of avoiding financial accountability, manipulating and deceiving staff, and leading the church away from “the entire purpose for which it was formed”—guiding the Vineyard movement worldwide.

Plaintiffs are asking the court to reinstate the old church board and award at least $62 million in damages.

A case management conference has been scheduled for April 28, 2023, the case summary shows.

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14 pensamientos sobre “Former Vineyard Anaheim Members Sue, Accusing New Pastors of $62 Million Fraud”

  1. It feels relevant to mention that in Vineyard USA’s response video they mention “distressing reports from former staff and leaders that were a part of this church that span over a long period of time.” Which refer to the current leaders and board members of Dwelling Place.

  2. Legally as per the Vineyard’s denomination laws Vineyard Anaheim had every right to branch out of the denomination. Unfortunately the former members are too emotional. God is not into that. I agree the way they left was not the best way to do it especially when this location means a lot for a whole movement but they are allowed to do that. Vineyard USA does not own the Anaheim location.

  3. How many of these mega churches will be exposed as not being of the LORD? “Infiltration not invasion” – satan knows that’s very effective.

    1. Kenneth Copeland once said if you have two nickels. Give one to god. My response would have been, ok tell god to meet me at the local McDonald’s and I’ll give it to HIM. Fundamentalist and evangelicals all have one goal. Money. Hey Copeland if you own a 15,000 square foot home why not sell and live in a 7500 square foot home and give the other half to god. No?? Ohhhhh yeah, I forgot God wants you living large. Like the “pastor” from LA who said god wants him owning two rolls Royce’s. Matt 7: 21-23 folks.

  4. So sad!!
    it makes sense totally sense biblically why they’re being sued. Alan has refused to talk to Anyone on the record or honestly even just brother to brother, they have no accountability. Julian and Pete are off their board, majority of their former board is suing for fraud….

    Alan is being treated as an unbeliever… he only uses spiritual language to cover up his crime.

    if they didn’t have a case, it would’ve been dismissed by now. It was filed because they have a strong case. It was fraud and he really committed a crime with his kangaroo board…

    Also VUSA is talking about spiritual and emotional abuse allegations clearly, which makes sense Alan runs his church communications like a cult leader. And his staff refuses to ask deep meaningful questions. It’s sad they all are so brainwashed. Use logic, God gave it to you.

    Just some thoughts… ):

    Thanks for covering this! I think it’s important especially to bring to light what Alan and the board so clearly wanted to cover up.

  5. Alan Scott has always been about the money.

    I visited his church at Causeway Vineyard in Northern Ireland 4 or 5 times over a number of years.

    The sermon topic each and every time?

    Money.

    Specifically, the sermons unofficially titled “You should be doing more than tithing to this church”, “We want a new building and can only do it if you tithe more” and “Give financial gifts back to God”, come to mind.

  6. I used to attend a Vineyard church in Texas. The pastor started attending conferences hosted by people affiliated with the Bethel movement. He decided that he wanted to change the theology of the church, excommunicated all of the deacons who had sacrificially served the small church for a decade or more, and did what he wanted. Almost everyone there at the time left the church deeply hurt that the new pastor had destroyed the sweet fellowship they had for the sake of his own ego. His flesh had seen this “new move of God” and wanted that type of power instead of being satisfied being a sheppard. The church had always been a tight knit store front church, and now it is smaller than it ever was before.

  7. No end to parade of FALSE ministers who serve filthy lucre. Trying to spiritualize blatant criminal intentions by naïve parishioners of the cult. True Christianity is found in first century accounts clearly recorded in book of Acts. God is exposing, judging, these false teachers who bear fruit of the evil one but claim to be of God. Shame on those who remain in these apostate 501C-3 government institutions, come out from among them and be ye separate unto the Lord.

  8. Sounds like a takeover by Bethel people. Jeremy Riddle and Banning Leibscher both came from there.

    Not sure if the lawsuit will succeed – sounds like the Scotts did everything by “the rules,” minus of course holding ulterior motives the entire time??

  9. Sounds like they hijacked the Anaheim Vineyard and over 60 million in assets. It’s entirely possible the Holy Spirit were leading them to make a change, but instead of using a hammer, they decided to use a bulldozer instead… And, because of that, we now have a complete mess on both sides.

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