Humble Beginnings

The Vineyard story is about ordinary people who worship and serve an extraordinary God. The Vineyard is simply one thread in the rich tapestry of the historic and global Church of Jesus Christ. But it is a thread of God's weaving.

From the beginning, Vineyard pastors and leaders have sought to hold in tension the biblical doctrines of the Christian faith with an ardent pursuit of the present day work of the Spirit of God. Maintaining that balance is never easy in the midst of rapid growth and renewal.

John Wimber was a founding leader of the Vineyard. His influence profoundly shaped the theology and practice of Vineyard churches from their earliest days until his death in November 1997. When John was conscripted by God he was, in the words of Christianity Today, a "beer-guzzling, drug-abusing pop musician, who was converted at the age of 29 while chain-smoking his way through a Quaker-led Bible study" (Christianity Today, editorial, Feb. 9 1998).

The Early Years

In John's first decade as a Christian he led hundreds of people to Christ. By 1970 he was leading 11 Bible studies that involved more than 500 people. Under God's grace, John became so fruitful as an evangelical pastor he was asked to lead the Charles E. Fuller Institute of Evangelism and Church Growth. He also later became an adjunct instructor at Fuller Theological Seminary where his classes set attendance records. In 1977, John reentered pastoral ministry to plant Calvary Chapel of Yorba Linda.

Throughout this time, John's conservative evangelical paradigm for understanding the ministry of the church began to grow. George Eldon Ladd's theological writings on the kingdom of God convinced John intellectually that all the biblical gifts of the Holy Spirit should be active in the church. Encounters with Fuller missiologists Donald McGavaran and C. Peter Wagner and seasoned missionaries and international students gave him credible evidence for combining evangelism with healing and prophecy. As he became more convinced of God's desire to be active in the world through all the biblical gifts of the Spirit, John began to teach and train his church to imitate Jesus' full-orbed kingdom ministry. He began to "do the stuff" of the Bible that he had formerly only read about.

The Vineyard Is Born

As John and his congregation sought God in intimate worship they experienced empowerment by the Holy Spirit, significant renewal in the gifts and conversion growth. It became clear that the church's emphasis on the experience of the Holy Spirit was not shared by some leaders in the Calvary Chapel movement. In 1982, John's church left Calvary Chapel and joined a small group of Vineyard churches. Vineyard was a name chosen by Kenn Gulliksen, a prolific church planter affiliated with Calvary Chapel, for a church he planted in Los Angeles in 1974. Pastors and leaders from the handful of Vineyard churches began looking to John for direction. And the Vineyard movement was born.

A Season of Expansion

Twenty-five years later, there are more than 1,500 Vineyard churches worldwide, 550+ in the US, with 8 regions actively planting churches across the country. Vineyard worship songs, documented by Vineyard Music, have helped thousands of churches experience intimacy with God. Many churches have been equipped to continue Jesus' ministry of proclaiming the kingdom, demonstrating the kingdom and training disciples.

The Vineyard's journey has not been a straight path. It winds through many trials and triumphs. If you are interested in more, there are a number of books and DVDs available from Vineyard Resources that explore the history, events, issues and people who shaped the Vineyard in its first two decades.

The History of the Superior Vineyard

This Vineyard Church had its beginnings in July of 2002 by Kenton, Donna, Chad and Carissa Wilson. The Wilsons were sent out from the River Heights Vineyard in Inver Grove Heights, MN. They moved to Duluth and attended the Vineyard where Michael and Brenda Gatlin (the senior pastors) became their church planting coaches. The Wilsons attended the Duluth Vineyard for one (1) year while they were gathering their initial planting team. In the Fall of 2003, Superior Vineyard held its first public worship service at the Peter Rich Community Center in Superior with 34 people in attendance. We quickly outgrew the Community Center and in the Fall of 2004 we began holding our public services at the Northern Lights Elementary School where we grew to over 100 people at our weekend services. In late October of 2007 we purchased the Jewish Synagogue in Superior with 8000 square feet and 9 additional lots of land for future growth.

We believe that God wants us to create a place where those who are 'not-yet-Christians' and those who are Christians without a church home can come to learn about Jesus. We want a place where we can worship God in a laid-back manner with music we like! We also want an atmosphere that is comfortable for people who are not accustomed to 'church stuff'. This means that everything we do has to be in a style that is understandable and meaningful. Because of our hunger for relationship with God and with other people, we meet regularly in small groups to make new friends and to seek God together.



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