One of the most well-known Vineyard churches in the world has announced its withdrawal from the denomination.
"We sense an invitation to take another step of faith into the unknown," wrote pastors Alan and Kathryn Scott in an email to Anaheim Church, California. "As part of that process, Vineyard Anaheim has this week withdrawn as a member of the Association of Vineyard Churches USA."
The church, which was founded by John and Carol Wimber, has been part of Vineyard since its inception in 1977.
The decision caused considerable upset online, with Vineyard USA calling it "an action of extreme betrayal" and Christy Wimber writing, "Pray God gets His Church (and it is His) back."
A statement from the church's board said, "Like most churches, COVID changed things for us. As we regathered, we reflected upon our structures and relationships (including our relationship with the Vineyard movement) and began to consider our next steps.
"It is clear to us that this new step lies outside the Vineyard movement. We wish to clarify that this is not a rejection of Vineyard values, theology or praxis, but our best effort to respond to the distinct calling on our church at this time, and a desire to say yes to the Spirit.
Vineyard USA described the news as "deeply grievous and unfortunate". A statement on its website continued, "While we are beyond grieved to have been informed of Vineyard Anaheim's decision...we recognize the Scotts, their Board, and this church as our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are praying that God will give them favor for the sake of their city and the Kingdom."