STATEMENTS FROM FORMER VINEYARD OFFICIALS
Vineyard Officials Were Not Aware of Steve’s Arrest for Sexual Assault Against a Minor
Vineyard Officials Were Not Aware of Steve Morgan's Arrest for Sexual Assault Against a Minor
Date Posted: August 11, 2022
Every Vineyard official contacted denied knowing about Steve Morgan’s arrest for sexual assault at the time of ordination, during the planting of Carbondale Vineyard Church, or during the time Steve Morgan remained a part of the Vineyard Association from 1995 through 2007.
There were five primary Vineyard pastors involved with ordaining Steve Morgan and mentoring him during the church plant in Carbondale. These pastors included Jaime Moyers, Happy Leman, Steve Nicholson, Steve Phillips, and David Stark. Andrew Lumpe, former Vice President of the Board and non-staff Discipleship Community Pastor at Blue Sky Church in Seattle, spoke with four of them during the investigation to find corroborating information regarding Steve Morgan's prior arrest for aggravated criminal sodomy against a minor. Steve Phillips is no longer a pastor and was not available for comment. Below are responses from the other four as well as Rick Olmstead, an additional pastor who was a Vineyard USA National board Member during Steve Morgan’s time in the Vineyard.
ROLE: Steve Morgan's former pastor before Steve planted Carbondale, Illinois, Vineyard (now called Vine Church)
Jaime Moyers was the Pastor of the Zeigler Vineyard Church (now closed). This was Steve's church from approximately 1992 when he arrived in Southern Illinois to attend a PhD program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale until he planted the Carbondale Vineyard Church in 1995. Andrew Lumpe first spoke with Jaime via phone in November 2021 and he confirmed that Steve Morgan never told him about his arrest for sexual assault. In July 2022, Jaime made a public statement on Reddit explaining how Steve never told him about his arrest prior to becoming a pastor and planting a church.
My name is Jaime Moyers. I pastored the Ziegler IL Vineyard from which the Carbondale Vineyard was planted from. The very day Steve Morgan came to me to talk about a Carbondale church plant he confessed to me he had had a homosexual experience. He told me it was once and never happened again.
He didn’t tell me he sodomized a fifteen year old boy and was charged with the crime. I sent him to the Vineyard regional leadership and at every level he perpetuated the same lie and manipulated his way to planting a Vineyard church in Carbondale.
If this is how it started then you all can understand why the Network is what it is today. I was a young trusting pastor that should have done more to verify this young man’s life and story.
I am trying to make the point this whole thing was started from a corrupt foundation. In Gods great mercy many were touched and saved by Him (God) in-spite of everything else. Instead of truly repenting and getting right with God, Steve and his gang are still white washing the whole matter. So, so, sad
I am truly sorry for where I failed. I pray for you all much with hope for your futures.
VIEW SCREENSHOT OF JAIME MOYERS' POST:
ROLE: Vineyard USA Regional Overseer and National Board Member during Steve Morgan’s time in the Vineyard
When Steve Morgan told Jaime Moyers he felt God calling him to plant a church in Carbondale, Jaime sent Steve to speak with Happy Leman. Jaime told Steve to tell Happy everything. At the time, Happy was Lead Pastor at the Vineyard Church of Central Illinois (Champaign/Urbana, IL), the Vineyard USA Regional Overseer and National Board Member. Happy is now retired. Andrew Lumpe contacted Happy Leman via email on November 13, 2021 to ask him if he knew about Steve's sexual assault. This was prior to the arrest record being located. Below is a quote from Happy Leman.
This situation is a sad mess. I’m very disappointed as this will not likely have been.
First, I knew nothing about this legislation. Steve does not seem to be this kind of a person. However, looks can be very deceiving in this day and age.
Second, I don’t know what I would do if I were you. I believe it’s well within reasonable expectations that you would follow through and find out the truth. On the other hand, there will be great damage and destruction if the past allegations are all true.
You have my blessings as you proceed either way. If you find something specific, would you please let me know. I still have friends and relatives of friends in this group.
READ THE EMAIL EXCHANGE:
ROLE: Vineyard USA National Board Member, and led the Vineyard Association's church planting systems during Steve Morgan’s time in the Vineyard
Steve Nicholson was the Lead Pastor at the Evanston Vineyard, served as a Vineyard USA National Board Member, and led the Vineyard Association's church planting systems. He is now retired. Nicholson spent time mentoring Steve Morgan during the planting of the Carbondale Vineyard Church and was very involved when Steve Morgan planted Bluesky Church in Seattle as it was part of a special “Fast Plant” program designed to plant new churches in targeted cities. Andrew Lumpe contacted Steve Nicholson via email in March 2021 to ask him if he was aware of Steve Morgan's sexual assualt. This was prior to the arrest record being located. Below is a quote from Nicholson (read full email below).
I do not believe that anyone in the Vineyard was aware of that background at the time. I don’t think we were doing background checks in those days. We do now have a process which includes a psychological assessment and a background check for all church planters. And yes, I imagine that this whole thing could eventually emerge and come into the open. Steve cut me off from any relationship with him and his network shortly after they left the Vineyard. Haven’t heard from him since.
In a reddit post Jaime Moyers corroborated Nicholson's above statement, stating that Steve Nicholson and Happy Leman were not aware of Steve’s arrest when he was ordained and planted the Carbondale Vineyard in 1995:
I have spoken to Happy Leman and he was told nothing of a seventeen year old boy or a fifteen year old boy. Steve Nicholson wasn’t told about either. They were told the same as me that it was a homosexual one time affair. This is whitewashing.
Edit: I need to clarify something. I have not spoken to Steve Nicholson personally. I was told from a second hand source in the Vineyard that Steve N knew nothing of a 15 or 17 year old boy. And I have no information about who ordained who or if anyone was ordained.
READ THE EMAIL EXCHANGE:
ROLE: Area Pastoral Coordinator (APC) serving as a mentor to Steve Morgan
David Stark is the Lead Pastor at Vineyard Community Church in St. Louis. Not long after Steve Morgan planted Carbondale Vineyard Church, David served as the Area Pastoral Coordinator (APC) serving as a mentor to Steve Morgan. Andrew Lumpe spoke with David via phone in November 2021 and he indicated he knew nothing about Steve's alleged sexual assault. This was prior to the arrest record being located.
ROLE: Area Pastoral Coordinator prior to David Stark
There was a fifth pastor who was possibly involved when Steve Morgan planted the Carbondale Vineyard Church. Steve Phillips served as the Area Pastoral Coordinator prior to David Stark. Phillips was a Vineyard Pastor in Rolla, MO. Shortly after the Carbondale Vineyard was planted, Phillips left the ministry and Vineyard Association. He has not been reached for a comment on Steve Morgan’s background.
ROLE: Vineyard USA National Board Member during Steve Morgan’s time in the Vineyard
In addition to the above pastors and leaders, another Vineyard leader was contacted by Andrew Lumpe. Rick Olmstead was the Lead Pastor at Vineyard Church of the Rockies and served as a Vineyard USA National Board Member during Steve Morgan’s time in the Vineyard. Andrew spoke in person with Rick in November 2020. At that time, Rick was serving as the Interim Pastor at Mountainbrook Church (a Vineyard church) in San Luis Obispo, California. Rick indicated to Andrew that he was aware of Steve Morgan, Carbondale Vineyard Church, and his departure from the Vineyard. But he indicated that he did not know about Steve’s arrest for sexual assault.