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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

27 min discussion regarding the allegations, investigations, Vineyard USA's role, and a pastoral & prophetic reflection

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.
  • GRACE
    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.

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