HISTORY OF THE VINEYARD MOVEMENT
Kenn Gulliksen was one of many thousands of young people who came to faith in Jesus Christ in California during what Time magazine called “The Jesus Revolution”, or “Jesus People Revival”, in the late 1960’s. In 1974, after working as an assistant pastor at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California and planting a church called Jesus Chapel in El Paso, Texas, Kenn and his wife Joannie moved to Los Angeles to begin a ministry that had been on their hearts for several years. Starting as a small Bible study, the fellowship quickly grew into a church. God prophetically gave the name “Vineyard” to those who initially gathered together. In the next few years literally thousands received Jesus Christ through the ministries of the church. Several couples went out and began other Vineyards in California: quickly growing churches with priorities of worship, relationship, healing, training and giving.
John Wimber became a part of the fledgling group of new churches, and by 1981 it soon became obvious that God had called John to pastor the pastors, and to train and encourage men and women to pursue what God had given them. As a result, the people called the Vineyard have reached out to bless and encourage churches all over the world, as well as planting churches. The Vineyard has extensive and fruitful relationships with most Christian denominations and pastors in the USA, many denominations, notably the Church of England in the UK, Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, Latin America, and the South Pacific. Many of these relationships developed through the personal ministry of John Wimber, others through various local Vineyard churches and leaders.
In 1982, John Wimber visited South Africa for the third time, having received a clear word from the Lord to facilitate the planting of a church in Johannesburg. The Parkview VCF was planted in October 1982, and since then the movement in South Africa has grown to about 50 churches and church plants in progress, which are connected through a formal body called the Association of Vineyard Churches, which was “released” as an autonomous body in the international movement in April 1997.
Vineyard churches are self-governing, but overseen and encouraged on a voluntary basis by experienced pastors. The Association of Vineyard Churches in each nation is led by a National Director. Each area is overseen by an Area Pastoral Coordinator (APC), and a Region is overseen by a Regional Overseer (R.O.). The Board of AVC (SA) is also responsible for the oversight of missions activities in the 22 African nations in which we are currently involved. In 2017 there were an estimated 2400 Vineyard churches world wide in more than 90 countries, of which 12 have been “released” as autonomous movements.
Our international Vineyard family in all these nations is connected through a high priority for relationship, mutual support, and shared values. Our National Directors work together through what is called the Vineyard International Executive (VIE). John and Eleanor Mumford of the UK serve as Coordinators for VIE, and provide support to the shared leadership and decision-making of our growing group of national leaders who lead the “released” nations or groups in the Vineyard family.
God however, has shown us not to seek to build the Vineyard, but instead to seek His Kingdom and let Him build His Church, to bless what He is blessing, to love what He loves, and to give ourselves away freely. We want to be like Jesus in both His character and ministry by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our plan is to seek God and to co-operate with Him as He reveals Himself in the process.