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 Joanie Gulliksen 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 gather together. In the next few years literally thousands received Jesus Christ through the ministries of the church.
God graciously worked through the many mistakes and failures as well as the successes, as many people were willing to take risks to become like Jesus and to communicate the Good News. Several couples went out and began other Vineyards in California. These churches grew quickly as they made priorities of worship, relationship, healing, training and giving.
In the spring of 1982, John Wimber and several other pastors led their churches into relationship with the Vineyard, as their vision coincided with and completed that of the original Vineyards. It was 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 which have become known as Vineyard Churches.
The Vineyard has extensive and fruitful relationships with many denominations and pastors in the U.S. and various parts of the world. These relationships include parachurch organizations like Convoy of Hope (our disaster relief partner). Many of these relationships have resulted through the personal ministry of John Wimber; others have resulted from relationships with local Vineyard churches.
In 1987, the various Vineyard churches formed a church association now called “The Vineyard, A Community of Churches” (www.vineyardusa.org). The churches are self-governing, but overseen and encouraged on a voluntary basis by some pastors who serve as regional coordinators, and in each local area by area pastoral coordinators. In 1997, after John Wimber passed away, a new national director was selected – that person is now Phil Strout. There are now over 2500 Vineyard churches on six continents, with the number expected to increase. God however, has shown us not to seek to build the Vineyard, but instead to seek his kingdom and to build His Church, to bless what He’s blessing, to love what He loves, and to give ourselves away freely. We want to be like Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our plan is to seek God, and to cooperate with Him as He reveals Himself in the process.