The Vineyard Church in Duluth, Minnesota had its lead pastor, Michael Gatlin, give his resignation yesterday after his son, another pastor at the church had allegations of sexual misconduct made against him.
One month ago the church released a statement advising its congregation and the public of the issue.
Jackson Gatlin, Michael's son, was suspended as Vineyard's young adult and online community pastor after the allegation was brought to light. One of the victim's statements shared that these events occurred several years ago and were sexual in nature.
The church's Special Committee made an announcement during the church service yesterday stating Michael and Brenda Gatlin might have known about it and chose not to act.
Two separate parties are investigating all of the allegations at this time, including the local police as well as a company called Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE). The latter was hired by the church to do its own investigation.
"Immediately prior to Michael’s resignation, we directed him to provide a statement to the Special Committee detailing his response and the actions he took, if any, to certain allegations of misconduct regarding Jackson Gatlin," says the church's online announcement. "We are Michael’s supervisor, yet he missed our deadline and never provided a statement. We had also advised him that his failure or refusal to provide the information we had requested or to be interviewed by GRACE may result in the termination of his employment."
In the letter of resignation, Michael stated that he was 'unable to cooperate with the process.'
"Also, we want to again say to all survivors of abuse that we hear you and believe you," states the online announcement. "It is never your fault. And, you are not alone. We are praying for you and we call our community to a time of prayer and lament."
The announcement shared that the council has a succession plan and they are already working on getting a new lead pastor for Vineyard.
In the meantime, the church urges the congregation to "Keep praying. Please. We need God and his will to be done. Remain open-minded. Resist the desire to speculate and gossip. Wait until the investigation is completed before making any judgment about allegations against anyone."