Vineyard Church suspends young adult pastor amid misconduct probe

Jackson Gatlin
Jackson Gatlin speaks at Vineyard Church on July 3, 2022 in Duluth, Minnesota. |

Jackson Gatlin, the young adult and online community pastor at Vineyard Church in Duluth, Minnesota, where his father Michael Gatlin serves as the senior pastor, has been suspended as the church and local police investigate allegations of misconduct “by several” perform years ago.”

A statement released Sunday by the multi-campus church did not specify the nature of the wrongdoing, but a woman who identified herself as the victim claimed on social media that she was sexually assaulted by Jackson Gatlin.

“Our church is responding to allegations of misconduct against one of our pastoral assistants, Jackson Gatlin. At present, the allegations against him relate to behavior dating back several years. We have contracted with a company called Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE) to conduct an independent investigation,” the church said in its statement.

“One of our values ​​is transparency, but we will say no more about the allegations at this time because we need to protect the ongoing investigation and any victims.” Accountability and integrity are also key values,” the church added. “When the investigation is complete, we expect to have more to say and we will say so. In the meantime, let us reassure you that the safety of our communion is of vital importance to us and we have policies and procedures in place to protect it. Duluth Vineyard has suspended Jackson Gatlin pending this investigation.

The Duluth Police Department told Northern News Now Tuesday that “The Duluth Police Department has been made aware of this incident and is assisting in the investigation.”

Jackson Gatlin
Jackson Gatlin, a young adult pastor and online community pastor at Vineyard Church in Duluth, Minnesota, has been suspended over allegations of misconduct. |

Myrissa Overfors, who claims to be one of Jackson Gatlin’s victims, said in a statement on Facebook Tuesday that she was working with investigators and “other victims” of his alleged wrongdoing.

“The past day has been a struggle. Most of you have seen that Vineyard Church in Duluth, Minnesota and its senior youth pastor, Jackson Gatlin, are under investigation for sexual misconduct. I was attacked by him too. It was sexual in nature. And the rest of the details remain private,” she said.

“I am currently working with your investigators and I think this could be a long battle for me and his other victims. Sending us all positive thoughts and prayers as you have faith in the months ahead. I am sure we will all need it. If you have become a victim of this predator, you are not alone.”

The church acknowledged that although the allegations of misconduct are directed at the lead pastor’s son, it has taken steps to ensure fairness in the investigation by establishing a “special panel of independent members.”

“[L]Let’s share how we address the fact that Jackson Gatlin is the son of our Senior Pastor, Michael Gatlin. In accordance with our nepotism policy and best practices, investigations and employment decisions regarding Jackson Gatlin will be independently overseen by Michael and Brenda Gatlin,” the church said.

“Our church council (the legal board) formed a special committee composed of independent members (none of whom work for the Duluth Winery or are related to an employee). The members of the Special Committee are Ben Mork (Chairman), Ann LaCosse, Jerry Lieffring and Gerry Kidney Garden. These are the people who will know everything we know and will control our response to the investigation.”

John Kliewer, who is serving as staff support for the special committee, will serve as the liaison between the senior pastor and the special committee.

In a statement to the church, Michael Gatlin assured parishioners that he is not leading his son’s investigation.

“As this situation develops, I want to assure you that I am not leading in this process, while still serving as the senior pastor of Duluth Vineyard Church. I am incredibly grateful that I cannot bear this responsibility alone. The staff, leaders and service teams who work alongside us are sensitive and capable leaders we can trust,” he wrote.

“I have full confidence in the team involved: the Select Committee members tasked with overseeing this process; our church council, our senior leadership team, our staff and our leaders. I also have full confidence in the Lord’s guidance in this difficult time.”

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