“There is nothing more irreligious than self-absorbed religion.”―
In 2014, we wrote Proof That It’s Not a Membership Covenant™ But a Legally Binding Document. In the post we discussed a lawsuit against Vineyard Church of Columbus, Ohio. Let’s go back and review what happened. This church tried to prevent a family from suing them since they signed *a membership contract.*
A current case before the Ohio courts
Please read the description of this lawsuit very carefully. In this case, the mediation clause was not explicitly spelled out. The church went to court claiming that this couple implicitly agreed to this arrangement,
A married mother sought counseling from Pastor Steven Robbins, one of 30 pastors of the large Vineyard Church of Columbus (Ohio.) She had been sexually abused as child by three men who were authority figures. She developed a sexual addiction due to her abuse and wanted help in dealing with it. Robbins allegedly took advantage of his position of trust. From the Columbus Dispatch linked above:
The complaint alleges that Robbins asked the woman to relate her sexual history “to see how the demonic could possibly be in play.” The woman told him she had been sexually abused as a child by three men in positions of authority, the complaint said.
According to the complaint, “Defendant Robbins continued to press Jane Doe for more detail of her sexual history despite knowing that all of the discussion of her sexual history was revving up her addiction.”
The sexual relationship between the pair ended when the woman entered an out-of-state treatment facility for sex addiction.
In 2011, the family proceeded with a lawsuit, naming the pastor, the church and the denomination. They alleged that the pastor was abusive in his actions because he was aware of the woman’s past history and used his position as an authority figure to take advantage of her.
The woman’s counseling fees, in the aftermath of that betrayal, have been high and the family is suing to recover those expenses. However, it appears that they are only asking for help with medical bills, which is understandable given the extent of the betrayal and her subsequent hospitalization. In other words, they are not asking for the moon.
The family decided to sue in part because their counseling expenses have been high, Hollern said.
The complaint asks for punitive damages in excess of $25,000 and compensatory damages in excess of $25,000. “The evidence will show that future counseling alone will be a very significant figure, much more than that amount,”
The response of the church to the lawsuit
Vineyard Church of Columbus filed a claim that the lawsuit was invalid because the couple implicitly agreed to biblical mediation when they joined the church. According to the Columbus Dispatch
the woman and her husband agreed to handle disputes only via biblically based mediation or binding arbitration when they became members of the church
Now watch how dogged the church becomes in this instance. A lower court ruled in favor of the lawsuit proceeding. Apparently, they did not agree that the family had agreed to biblical mediation upon becoming members since it was not clearly spelled out. So, the church appealed and lost that appeal reported on 6/2014. The church claimed that such mediation was implicit when they joined the church. Again, from the Dispatch:
To join the church, potential members must agree to settle all disputes through Christian mediation, said Vineyard’s senior pastor, the Rev. Rich Nathan.
The county and appellate courts said the evidence did not support the church’s claim that the family had agreed to such a policy.
So is the case going to trial yet? Nope. The church is still not finished. According to the Dispatch:
Nathan said the church is considering its next step and he continues to hope for Christian mediation.
Let’s take a look at some of the issues inherent in this case.
The church lost its appeal ONLY because they did not clearly state that mediation was part of their membership agreement. You can be sure that such an oversight has been remedied.The church clearly believes that their membership requirements bar a member from seeking legal redress against the church. It appears they will go to court again and again to prevent outside legal action.
Note how long this process has been going on for the family. The initial lawsuit was filed in 2011. It is now 2014 and the church is considering further legal options. They are digging in. So, even though the outcome has been in favor of the family, they have been fighting for three years and the case has still not been heard in court. This is an exhausting, financially draining process for the family, even if they eventually win.
end of earlier post.
Once again, the Vineyard Church of Columbus, Ohio is in the news. Man charged with child sex crimes has history of working with kids, prior trouble.
Matthew Gatton appeared before a Franklin County Judge Tuesday morning on two felony counts of gross sexual imposition.Westerville Police say Gatton admitted touching the penis of an 11-year-old boy between 20 and 50 times. Gatton was a mental health worker with Ohio Guidestone.
However it appears that the Vineyard Church knew about this man a few years ago… See what’s missing from the church’s statement.
Vineyard Columbus church said approximately five years ago, Gatton served as a volunteer with the kids’ ministry.A spokesperson says “concerns were raised” about him, prompting church leadership to “flag him” in their internal system as not suitable to work with children.The spokesperson says he was terminated as a volunteer.
Yep- you guessed it. They didn’t report him to the police. They took care of their people in their church. Who the heck cares about children outside of the church?
So, they released a statement which shows, once again, they are only worried about themselves.
In a written statement, Vineyard Columbus said: “We take the safety and security of our children very seriously and we have policies and procedures in place to ensure our church is a safe place for young people.”
I would never recommend this church to anyone. The leaders appear to protect the church from families who get upset when the pastor has sex with a member who came to him for help. It also appears that the leaders dumped the predator quietly in order to protect their rapidly declining image. The leaders don’t seem to give a hoot who else is hurt by the predator.
In my opinion, the Vineyard Church of Columbus, Ohio appears to be a unsafe church when it comes to kids and women.