Duluth Vineyard Church investigating allegations against pastoral assistant
Duluth Police Department was also notified
FRIDAY UPDATE: The Duluth Vineyard Church announced in an email to their congregation Friday that Senior Pastor Michael Gatlin has also been placed on a leave of absence.
The church says in the email it is a fast evolving situation due to police involvement.
First reports that the church’s Special Committee received were anonymous.
They then took those reports to the police, but were that they could not start an investigation without victims’ names.
Since victims began identifying themselves on social media, the committee was able to report the claims to the police again.
There is now an ongoing criminal investigation.
The Vineyard Church spokespeople say in light of police involvement and in recognition that things are rapidly changing, they are cancelling their All Church Meeting that was scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 9.
“We want to say to all survivors of abuse that we hear you and believe you. 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. As Jesus was always on the side of the vulnerable and the wounded, in our response to abuse the safety and care of survivors must always come first,” says church spokespeople.
Any information you may have to help the investigation can be reported to law enforcement by calling 911.
You can also email GRACE who is conducting and independent investigation.
The full statement the Vineyard Church released is below.
We hope that you were able to read our message from January 29th (https://duluthvineyard.org/our-response-to-allegations-of-misconduct/) concerning allegations of misconduct against one of our pastoral assistants (Jackson Gatlin) and how the resulting investigation and employment decisions related to Jackson Gatlin are being overseen by an independent Special Committee of our Church Council. Since then, we have also placed our Senior Pastor (Michael Gatlin) on a leave of absence.
This is a fast evolving situation, particularly with regard to law enforcement involvement. The first reports that the Special Committee received were anonymous and, when we took those reports to the police, we were told by the police that they could not start an investigation without victims’ names. That changed this week when victims began identifying themselves on social media. So, we reported this matter to the police again this week and there is now an ongoing criminal investigation.
In light of the police involvement and in recognition that things are changing so rapidly, we are canceling our All Church Meeting scheduled for Sunday, February 5th at 7pm. To the extent that we are able to provide updates in the future, we will post them to our website (https://duluthvineyard.org/our-response-to-allegations-of-misconduct/).
We encourage all reports of criminal activities to be reported to law enforcement. Please do so by calling 911. We have also contracted with a company called Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE (https://www.netgrace.org/)) to conduct an independent investigation. If you have information that may be relevant to their investigation, please contact GRACE by emailing Emily Petrie at email@example.com (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org)
We want to say to all survivors of abuse that we hear you and believe you. 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. As Jesus was always on the side of the vulnerable and the wounded, in our response to abuse the safety and care of survivors must always come first.
With the love of Christ,The Special Committee of the Church Council (Ben Mork, Ann LaCosse, Jerry Lieffring and Gerry Nierengarten)
This message is sent on behalf of the Special Committee. Please contact John Kliewer with any questions or concerns. This message is from the Vineyard church. the Vineyard church treats your personal information with the utmost care. To report abuse related to this email, please contact our office at (218) 525-3462.
DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - The Duluth Vineyard Church is responding to allegations of misconduct within the church.
Members of the congregation received an email from the church saying they are looking into allegations against one of their pastoral assistants.
The assistant is Jackson Gatlin, the son of Senior Pastor, Michael Gatlin.
In an email, the church say the allegations involve instances from several years ago.
Church spokespeople say they have contacted Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE) to conduct their investigation.
“One of our values is transparency. Accountability and integrity are also key values. Let us assure you that the safety and security of our church community is critically important to us and we have policies and procedures in place to protect them,” says Vineyard Church spokespeople.
As of Tuesday, the Duluth Police Department was also notified of the incident.
The Duluth Police told Northern News Now in a statement, “the Duluth Police Department has been made aware of this incident and are assisting in the investigation. "
The police statement continued, to encourage victims to come forward by either contacting 911 to file a report or reach out to the Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault (PAVSA) at their helpline at (218) 726-1931.
Northern News Now asked if the church if they had contacted law enforcement regarding what was called “allegations”, the church did not answer our question.
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