• Home
  • Update Regarding Brenda & Michael Gatlin

Update Regarding Duluth Vineyard

November 22, 2023

On November 20th, 2023, Vineyard USA was made aware that the final report was provided by GRACE to the Duluth Vineyard, and subsequently the church distributed via email to the congregation and their website. This report can be found on the Duluth Vineyard website in full. This report was commissioned by the local church, and we commend Duluth Vineyard’s decision to commission a third-party report. We are also grateful for their choice to make that report public, and their commitment to transparency, clarity, and healing for this difficult and complicated matter. 

Vineyard USA is also committed to transparency and accountability. As such, VUSA is now working quickly to review the 95-page report to understand its findings, analysis, and recommendations. We anticipate the report’s findings will require follow-up with various individuals who may have participated in the investigation, in order to prepare an adequate statement from Vineyard USA.

Upon initial review of the report, the allegations are serious and grievous. To the reporting victims in these matters, we continue to pray that you experience comfort, healing, and peace. We pray that the acknowledgment of law enforcement and the pending legal process help to bring healing for you. We pray that justice will prevail. 

From our initial reading, there are two major areas of concern:

  1. Criminal Allegations Against Jackson Gatlin
    Vineyard USA will not make additional comments on these allegations until the completion of the St. Louis County case is resolved, in order to not impact the legal process.

  2. The Leadership Misconduct of Michael and Brenda Gatlin

    The final report from GRACE calls into question the conduct and quality of leadership exhibited by Michael and Brenda Gatlin, the resulting culture of the Duluth Vineyard, as well as their handling of the allegations against Jackson Gatlin. These allegations are significant. Due to the scale of the report, Vineyard USA is reviewing the report, working to assimilate the information in order to:

    • Support the Duluth Vineyard in an ongoing manner, 
    • Attend to the allegations with Michael and Brenda Gatlin, and request them to address the allegations found in the report, 
    • Define a church discipline process,
    • Clarify the next steps to strengthen the health of our national movement of local churches. 

Vineyard USA will make more comments in the near future, communicating externally on this webpage with impacted people within Vineyard USA.

Update Regarding Duluth Vineyard

October 12, 2023

This page has been the primary location for Vineyard USA to provide update to pastors, leaders, reporting victims and onlookers as we monitor the activity related to allegations of sexual and leadership misconduct.

On October 3, 2023 Jackson Gatlin, was charged with criminal sexual conduct and taken into custody in St. Louis County, MN. Five criminal complaints were filed against him. You can find additional information on the Duluth Vineyard webpage here

The Probable Cause documents associated with these criminal charges also allege that Michael and Brenda Gatlin were made aware, in or about 2012, of the criminal conduct of Jackson Gatlin by the victims or their families. The documents allege that concerns brought to Michael and Brenda Gatlin were not acted on.

To the reporting victims and their families – We pray that you experience comfort, healing and peace. We acknowledge your courage and thank you for your bravery. We pray that the acknowledgement of law enforcement and pending legal process helps to bring healing for you. We pray justice would prevail. Vineyard USA is committed to the development and implementation of systems of confidential reporting, trauma-informed care, training, and greater structures of accountability. 

To reporters and reporting victims – Vineyard USA continues to encourage reporters and reporting victims of these and other allegations to reach towards the appropriate investigative outlet. 

  • Law Enforcement – Duluth Vineyard and Vineyard USA have encouraged anyone who has knowledge of a crime to contact local law enforcement
  • GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments) – Duluth Vineyard contracted GRACE in early 2023 to conduct a thorough and independent investigation of the allegations and any contributing factors. Vineyard USA has cooperated with GRACE by referring reporting victims and providing relevant documentation.
  • Guidepost Solutions – Vineyard USA launched a confidential mechanism of reporting for those. You can find more information about that reporting hotline here.

To Vineyard pastors and leaders –
Vineyard USA responded to the allegations immediately. As initial information came available, VUSA took decisive action regarding Brenda and Michael Gatlin’s respective employment and leadership roles. VUSA’s ongoing communication with the Gatlins has included the express expectation that all parties participate in investigative processes, tell the truth, submit to the appropriate authorities, and adhere to any disciplinary processes implemented by the Duluth Vineyard and/or Vineyard USA.

From the onset, Vineyard USA was invited by the Duluth Vineyard to support their efforts to address these allegations with truthfulness and integrity. This has included ongoing consultation with the Board, pastors and staff of Duluth Vineyard, multiple site visits from national and translocal leaders, and referrals to professional services and helpful resources. As a “local church movement” this is our standard approach to crisis management and support, including criminal allegations of this nature, as the local church is the governing authority. VUSA has deferred to the Duluth Vineyard privately and publicly not wanting any of our actions to interfere with their pastoral care or investigations. 

Vineyard USA has stated that it would wait until the completion of all investigative processes to make public comment. 

  • At present the legal system has conducted its preliminary investigations and has determined probable cause for the arrest of Jackson Gatlin. The case will move forward in the criminal justice system.
  • GRACE is still conducting its investigation into the allegations and any contributing factors related to the culture of Duluth Vineyard.
  • Vineyard USA contracted Guidepost Solutions to do a limited-scope investigation into concerns related to Michael and Brenda Gatlin’s leadership. This report was completed in July 2023 and has been shared with the leadership of Duluth Vineyard. 

Update Regarding Jackson Gatlin

October 3, 2023

As we continue to support the Duluth Vineyard, Vineyard USA has been made aware that Jackson Gatlin, former Duluth Vineyard pastoral assistant and son of Brenda & Michael, was arrested on Tuesday, October 3, 2023.

We are continuing to monitor the information available in order to provide support to the reporting victims, church community and Gatlin family. You can find updated information on the Duluth Vineyard webpage here

If you have any questions, please contact Robb Morgan ().

If you have information related to criminal conduct, Vineyard USA would encourage you to contact local law enforcement. We continue to pray for God’s mercy and healing for all who have been impacted by this terrible situation – please join us in praying.

Update Regarding Brenda & Michael Gatlin

February 27, 2023

Today, we are coming to you with an update regarding Brenda and Michael Gatlin and the Duluth Vineyard. In light of very serious allegations and in the midst of an ongoing investigation, Michael Gatlin and Brenda Gatlin have resigned from their respective positions.

2 min update regarding Michael & Brenda Gatlin's resignations

If you have information that would be relevant to the investigations, we encourage you to contact the Duluth Police Department and Emily Petrie () at GRACE, who are conducting an independent investigation with the Duluth Vineyard. 

Learn about VUSA’s November 2022 initiative to assess and improve how we and our churches handle leadership misconduct, moral failings, restoration processes, and allegations of abuse and misconduct.

Brenda Gatlin has resigned as a Super Regional Leader for Vineyard USA, and Michael Gatlin has resigned as the Senior Pastor of the Duluth Vineyard, as well as his positions as a Trustee on the Vineyard USA Board, and on the Board of Vineyard Worship. 

We have included a short video to describe the topline information regarding this update. We would encourage every Vineyard pastor to review this 2-minute video. A longer 27-minute video has been provided in support of the complex nature of the allegations, investigations, Vineyard USA’s role, and a pastoral & prophetic reflection. We encourage you to read all the information on this site before watching the longer video, as it provides valuable context.

Key Decisions and Timeline

  • 01/29 – 01/30: Duluth Vineyard announces allegations against Jackson Gatlin
  • 02/01: Brenda Gatlin placed on 30-day leave by VUSA
  • 02/02: Michael Gatlin placed on 90-day leave from Board of Trustees by VUSA
  • 02/05: Michael Gatlin put on indefinite leave by Duluth Vineyard
  • 02/10: Brenda Gatlin suspended pending investigation by VUSA
  • 02/13: Jackson Gatlin terminated by Duluth Vineyard and not allowed on Duluth Vineyard campus
  • 02/20: Michael Gatlin resigned from Duluth Vineyard and not allowed on Duluth Vineyard campus
  • 02/20: Brenda Gatlin removed from office of Vice President of Duluth Vineyard Board and not allowed on Duluth Vineyard campus
  • 02/21: Michael Gatlin resigned from VUSA Board of Trustees, including his role as Vice President, and from the Vineyard Worship board
  • 02/24: Brenda Gatlin resigned as Super Regional Leader at Vineyard USA
  • 02/26: Duluth Vineyard services announced Michael’s resignation

Key Parties Involved

  • Duluth Board Special Committee of the Church Council
    The Special Committee is Ben Mork,  Ann LaCosse, Jerry Lieffring, and Gerry Nierengarten and was appointed by the Board/Church Council. John Kliewer is serving as staff support for the Special Committee and liaison between the senior pastor and the Special Committee. The Special Committee is responsible for making decisions regarding Duluth, including all employment decisions. They know ‘all there is to know’ and will control the response to the investigation, including hiring and paying for GRACE services, and working with the Duluth PD.
  • Vineyard USA, National Team, and Trustees
    Vineyard USA (primarily Robb Morgan and Nicole Dill) have been involved in the situation to represent the National Team and create communication to Vineyard leaders and pastors. They have kept the National Team and Trustees informed periodically with important information.
  • Duluth Police Department
    Conducting a criminal investigation into Jackson Gatlin and/or Brenda and Michael Gatlin. No details on the investigation are currently known by Vineyard USA.
    Conducting a third-party investigation that was established by Duluth Vineyard when allegations came forward initially around Jackson Gatlin, and later around Michael and Brenda Gatlin. The Duluth Police has asked them not to interview reporting victims during the criminal investigation, but they have reached out to interview other parties.
  • External advice and counsel for Duluth Vineyard
    Jim Herrington and Trisha Taylor of The Leader’s Journey have had their services retained by the Duluth Vineyard at the request of Michael Gatlin and have been providing counsel and support for Duluth staff. Additionally, Duluth Vineyard has legal counsel.
  • External advice and counsel for Vineyard USA
    Guidepost Solutions has been conducting an institutional assessment for VUSA and has provided recommendations through this situation. Additionally, Vineyard USA has legal counsel and has sought the counsel of HR experts.
  • Additional sources of care and pastoral support
Additional information will be provided to interested parties upon request. To request this information, please fill out this form

Update Regarding Brenda Gatlin

February 10, 2023

Dear Pastors & Leaders,

Vineyard USA has suspended Brenda Gatlin pending an investigation related to the handling of allegations of sexual abuse and leadership misconduct while serving as pastor of the Duluth Vineyard. The investigative process will include active GRACE and police investigations, as well as Vineyard USA’s internal review of information that has been made available as a result of these allegations coming to light.

Vineyard USA initially placed Brenda Gatlin on a 30-Day Leave of Absence on February 1, 2023 allowing time for Vineyard USA to support the Duluth Vineyard, for individuals to focus on the investigative process, and to gather information material to this decision. Regional Leaders, Area Leaders and local pastors within the regions she had been overseeing were informed at that time.

Brenda’s Super Regional duties will be covered by John Elmer and Joel Seymour. For the immediate future, John Elmer () will serve as the interim Super Regional Leader for the Midwest North and Northwest Regions and Joel Seymour () will serve as the interim Super Regional Leader for the Mountain Region. They will continue to support all Regional and Area Leaders, who have all been advised of these developments and are available to support you as well.

Additionally, the Board of Trustees has placed Michael Gatlin on a 90-day Leave of Absence.

If you have information that would be relevant to the investigations you are encouraged to contact GRACE and the Duluth Police Department. Other inquiries can be directed to Robb Morgan, Managing Director (). All media inquiries should be directed to Nicole Dill, Communications Director ().

Updates will be posted as available on this webpage.

Robb Morgan
Managing Director, Vineyard USA

If you have information that would be relevant to the investigations, we encourage you to contact the Duluth Police Department and Emily Petrie () at GRACE, who are conducting an independent investigation with the Duluth Vineyard. 

Learn about VUSA’s November 2022 initiative to assess and improve how we and our churches handle leadership misconduct, moral failings, restoration processes, and allegations of abuse and misconduct.