Former Vineyard Anaheim Becomes the Dwelling Place

By Bob Smietana
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)

When leaders of a well-known Southern California congregation decided to leave the Vineyard USA — an influential charismatic movement — they knew the church would need a new name.

On Sunday, Alan Scott, co-pastor of the former Vineyard Anaheim, announced the church would now be called the Dwelling Place. 

After telling someone in the pews to turn off their phone — because the glare was bothering him — Scott told the congregation that while church leaders had been thinking about a new name, there was no divine inspiration in the one they eventually chose.

“I wish I could say to that, on, whatever day it is, April the 8th or something like this, the angel of the Lord appeared to me and said, ‘Behold, this is your new name,’” he said. “But that didn’t happen.”

Instead, Scott told worshippers about the importance of names and shared several Bible verses, including one from the New Testament Book of Revelation about God dwelling among his people.

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“It reminds us that God is making everything new,” he said, “that one day all of humanity and all of history ends up at the feet of Jesus and God’s dwelling place is with us.”

The low-key nature of the name change was a stark contrast to the way the church left the Vineyard after more than four decades.

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

Founded in 1977, according to a history on the church’s website, the congregation was once led by John Wimber, who had helped grow the Vineyard from a handful of California churches to a worldwide movement, on the strength of his personality and his combination of Bible teaching and “signs and wonders.”

The Anaheim church had held a central place in the life of the movement because of its ties to Wimber and to the Vineyard’s worship music, which has long been popular outside the movement. 

Then, in February, Scott and his wife, Kathryn, an influential worship leader, announced the church would cut ties with the Vineyard — giving few details except saying God told them to do it and cutting off any conversation about the matter.

That’s led to a sense of anger and disappointment among Vineyard churches.

“For many people it feels like a betrayal of a way of life together,” Caleb Maskell, associate national director of theology and education for Vineyard USA, said recently in an interview.

vineyard anaheim worship dwelling place
Thousands participate at a Christian conference in 1998 held at Vineyard Christian Fellowship in southern California. (Photo: D Watts / Flickr)

The Dwelling Place’s departure reveals some of the Vineyard’s institutional weaknesses — as its churches act mostly independently and most cooperation is based on the friendship of pastors rather than formal structures.

 The Scotts have declined media requests for interviews about their recent decisions. Church leaders issued a statement saying that they “love the Vineyard movement.”

The church’s website does give a hint of the Dwelling Place’s hope for the future.

“In the future, we are going to plant churches and we are going to plant businesses,” reads the church’s “Our Story” page. “We are going to ordain ministers and we are going to ordain filmmakers. We are going to have schools of ministry and schools of industry. We are going to go where those before us didn’t have time to go or permission to go … because the story of the kingdom continues. It’s the story that brings life to everything everywhere.”

Bob SmietanaBob Smietana is a national reporter for Religion News Service.



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21 thoughts on “Former Vineyard Anaheim Becomes the Dwelling Place”

  1. Mellisa Fernandez

    It sounds painful but it also sounds like leadership has a great vision for where the church can go and how they can reach people for Christ.

  2. Virginia Maloles Fowler

    Since when has the kingdom of God become a business, and where in the Bible does it say that the commission to the apostles and believers to ordain filmmakers. As far as “going to go where those before us didn’t have time to go or permission given”, can someone speak to the growth and influence of the Vineyard movement, please.

    1. 1. An institution with a brand name dividing itself from 1000 other brand names has never been a kingdom element from God. There is ONE kingdom and ONE church. That ONE church is what the world is to see per Jesus. John 17:20-23. Tweaking brand names is meaningless to the purposes of God.

      2. Every pulpit and pew church IS a business, with budgets, profit and loss, staff, facilities and a deep need for customers to put money in the offering to mostly bless themselves – 84% of the giving is for INSIDE the building in “normal church budgeting.” I have the chart from Christianity Today in surveys of hundreds of churches of every size and brand.

      3. According to the apostle Paul, who worked with his hands, night and day, as a marketplace worker “everywhere in every church”, including Timothy, Titus, Silas, Barnabas, etc, the work of God is FUNDED BY BUSINESS. A man who won’t work should not eat, and many more. 100% if giving from business working saints is to go BEYOND themselves to send preachers to those who have no one to preach to them and serve the poor who are not lazy. 2 Cor. 8 & 9 was 100% BEYOND the givers. The last time I heard a sermon series on this it was to build a double sized gymnasium to replace the existing gymnasium. What a corruption of God’s design for giving. Whatever scripture you have been lectured on “the right to be paid” is twisted or falsely translated. It can ALL be EXPOSED from the Bible and it’s been there 2000 years.

  3. Rachel Wadsworth

    A sobering and unfortunately familiar refrain found in the church:

    “…giving few details except saying God told them to do it and cutting off any conversation about the matter.”

  4. Ichabod. Yet another “church” where the glory has departed. They aren’t the first and won’t be the last. Remember, “saints” devoid of the Holy Spirit will be the first in line to follow antichrists. “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”

  5. 48 Yet the Most High DOES NOT DWELL in houses made by hands,
    as the prophet says,
    49 “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.
    What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,  or what is the place of my rest?
    50 Did not my hand make all these things?’
    51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Acts 7

    God does dwell in His people 24/7, everywhere they are, and shines through EVERYTHING they do. Col. 3:23:24. Every believer is a “full time minister”, despite the false rhetoric of clergy.
    Ephesians 2: 19b but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
    20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
    21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
    22 In him you also are being built together into A (one) DWELLING PLACE FOR GOD by the Spirit.

    Their hired Bible experts have it all twisted. It’s been this way 500 years, if you only go back to the Reformation. It did not fix every thing. We have more to fix now if we want to be part of the clean up crew versus the pandering crew.

  6. I think this is another example of men putting their own constructs before God and getting upset about the fact that this church has “left” the Vineyard fold. Who cares. Is Vineyard now the pentecostal Catholic church and the hierarchy and the corporate church is more important than the people themselves? Looking at the way this transpired it’s clear as mud that neither the so-called Pastors nor the Vineyard church are being forthright as to the real underlying reasons for this split. The press has written their coverage in such a way as to make the Pastors appear to be making a landgrab to take ownership of the building and to enrich themselves. This is disappointing as it just shows that the story itself outshines the truth of what is happening. Perhaps the best response is to pray for the people, the Pastors, and Vineyard as they go their separate ways and that Christ alone continues to be the message for all.

  7. The signs and wonders continue with this church. They changed their sign from Vinyard to Dwelling place, and we all wonder why.

    Even in the NT church, prophetic words were peer reviewed (1 Thes 5:21, 1 Cor. 14:29). “God spoke to me” should be a conversation starter, not a conversation ending power play.

    1. I got a laugh from that “signs and wonders” comparison. The pulpit and pew version of church severely prostitutes EVERYTHING, and they don’t know it. They think it’s all godly. “Preach the word” is prostituted into one way communication that must be 30-45 minutes by one hired man EXCLUDING everyone else and even for 3 minutes by a lay person. Allegedly, this ritual is the most important “vocation” in the world. “Stirring up one another to love and good works” is God’s design for “meeting together” that we are “not to forsake.” There is NO “meeting together” that should reverse this instruction.

  8. I say this at the risk of sounding snarky.
    So basically they are going to be the next Bethel and to jump in to the 7 mountain mandate with both feet and build their own empire.

  9. So it sounds like Scott gave very little to his congregation in terms of details concerning this change. If they want to trust him without question I guess that is up to them but they may want to ask themselves just who if anyone does Scott answer to regarding anything related to this church?

  10. I was involved in a Vineyard church in the late 80’s, under Wimber before he died. They had annual Pastor’s conferences to Anaheim. I heard feedback that all they were interested in was “how big is your attendance” and “how big is your budget.” “Pastors” comparing themselves with other pastors in pure unorthopraxy. I recognized the carnality of this way back then. In June of 1990 I left never to return. This never was a good thing. It was building a franchise and using business outlook as the measuring stick. No one cared who was actually pleasing the Lord and whom was not. And I have noted that pleasing God will make your business numbers shrink, for that is not God’s priority. Pleasing God has a tendency to piss off people in the pews many times, for God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.

  11. So Vineyard are upset that a church has left because they felt it was God’s leading. Is that the same Vineyard that was founded by a pastor who split from his church to set up a new one because he felt it was God’s leading?

  12. I am sick, sick, sick of believers in the body of Christ too often giving criticism and passing judgement. Be careful guys! Aren’t we supposed to pursue peace with all believers? Aren’t we suppose to encourage one another? Aren’t we supposed to be one body and pursue unity among the body of Christ? All this negative criticism and assumptions is so grieving to the Holy Spirit. If I’ve heard the Lord tell me to start a church and give me His heart for a particular area, who are you my brothers and sisters to try to come against it? What has made you so confident that this is something injurious to others and wrong? Ever heard of “new wine skins”? Didn’t Jesus tell us not to try to pour new wine in old wine skins? Why? Because the old wine skins won’t be able to handle the new wine. We should be coming alongside a new church, blessing them, and encouraging them! Not tearing it down with your judgement and criticism! Our family were part of the Anaheim Vineyard movement with John Wimber for over 22 years. So many happy memories we had there! But God is obviously doing something new now! I look forward to seeing this new church blossom, produce lots of good fruit and infiltrate our hurting society with His love and goodness! What an awesome vision God has given to this leadership! I’d say it’s wise to bless and not curse what God wants to do!

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