Causeway Coast Vineyard (CCV) and Vineyard UK and Ireland have published a comprehensive report investigating past allegations against former pastor Alan Scott.
Conducted by Trusted HR, the independent review revealed a pattern of behaviours including manipulation, inappropriate comments, narcissistic tendencies, instances of public shaming, and spiritual abuse attributed to Scott.
After leading CCV for nearly 20 years, Scott and his wife Kathryn decided to move to the USA in 2017, to lead Vineyard Anaheim. However, in 2022, the couple announced they were taking the flagship church out of the denomination and becoming independent, arguing God was calling them to take a "step of faith into the unknown".
Their decision prompted numerous complaints about his conduct, with many of them stemming from his earlier leadership of the CCV. Consequently, the church in Northern Ireland together with Vineyard UK and Ireland launched an independent review into the allegations in February 2023.
The findings draw from the accounts provided by 37 individuals, who openly shared their experiences through statements and face-to-face interviews.
According to the report, approximately 40 per cent of respondents claimed that Scott was “seen to be aggressive, shouted at people in the church when alone, and exercised lots of power over others.”
Around 60 per cent of those who responded said they felt “spiritually abused” by Scott and his style of leadership, the report found. Some stated that Scott would "falsely idolise himself and that he appeared 'all-knowing',” while others stated that the pastor, “would say he knows people's sins just by looking at them”.
Respondents also accused Scott of being overly “numbers focused,” allegedly manipulating numbers in some areas and “exaggerating stories about the success of events and action taken by the church and its leaders”.
The report also includes input from Neil Young, the pastor who led CCV following Scott’s departure. He contributed with different perspectives “on some issues raised”.
Both Neil and his wife, Janet stepped down from their roles as senior pastors of CCV in late October, citing dissatisfaction with the process. They had initially said they supported the investigation, but had recused themselves from the handling of it because of their long friendship with Alan and Kathryn.
The report further revealed that over two-thirds of respondents felt that their experiences at CCV had a lasting impact on their lives, with some seeking therapy or medication while others chose to disengage from the church altogether.
While the authors acknowledged that the report's scope is "restricted to those who were willing to contribute and had concerns they wished to voice," it concluded that "on balance, it is probable that many of the behaviours witnessed, and issues raised by the respondents, did indeed occur to some extent".
Other issues such as safeguarding and governance were also mentioned in the report.
In a statement accompanying the report's publication, the current leadership of CCV and VCUKI repeated language they've used before, saying they were "deeply saddened to read the conclusions of the independent review process" and were "sorry that we have not always acted well and been all that Jesus called us to be".
"We acknowledge that wrong and hurtful conduct occurred at Causeway Coast Vineyard and we apologise to all those who were hurt, harmed, mistreated or in any way negatively impacted by their time at this church," they said.
They also committed to implementing the report's recommendations in full.