From the Jesus People to the Vineyard
The Jesus People movement of the 1960s and 70s was a spiritual awakening within hippie culture around the world, as thousands of young people found themselves on a desperate search to experience God. Not finding Him through drugs, sex, or rock'n'roll, these hippies became a subculture transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit during a time of dramatically shifting cultural values and societal norms. Mainstream evangelicalism found it very hard to receive these new followers of Jesus, just as they were; however, ministries arose from scores of these cultural refugees at home and abroad. Figures like Walter Heidenreich in Luedenscheid, Germany would have an impact in central Europe and beyond; Jackie Pullinger, a young missional rebel from the UK, would move to the walled city in Hong Kong; Loren and Darlene Cunningham, pioneers of YWAM, would continue to steward its expanding global reach. Among those shaping this emerging voice within the church was a soft-spoken, unassuming leader named Kenn Gulliksen. He came out of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California and started a church in Hollywood in 1974. This community had an immediate effect on many in the entertainment industry, given its passion not only for cultural relevance, but for intimate worship. Influential artists such as Larry Norman, Chuck Girard, Bob Dylan, and Keith Green became part of this mix. A vision for church planting was a hallmark of Gulliksen's work. Believing that God had instructed him to do so, Kenn gave the name "Vineyard" (from Isaiah 27:2–3 & John 15:5) to these newly formed communities. He would go on to lead them for the next several years. On Mother's Day 1977, John Wimber, an evangelical pastor and teacher on church growth, founded Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda. He and most of his congregants were former Quakers. Wimber's teaching on Kingdom theology and the ministry of the Holy Spirit gave rise to a meeting with Calvary Chapel leaders, where it was suggested that Wimber's church stop using the Calvary name and affiliate with Gulliksen's Vineyards. John and Kenn had become friends, and on Mother's Day 1982, Wimber's church changed its name to Anaheim Vineyard Christian Fellowship.
Because John's influence was profoundly shaping the theology and practice of the Vineyards, Kenn felt led to ask John to assume leadership of the nascent movement. This transition took place in 1982, when there were at least seven "Vineyards". This fellowship would officially become the "Association of Vineyard Churches" in 1985. Wimber served as National Director until 1994, and president of the association until his passing in 1997. Today, there are hundreds of Vineyards around the world. John's legacy beyond the Vineyard includes the great passion he had for intimacy in worship through music. Scores of worship songwriters and leaders would emerge across all streams of the church as a direct result of his strong belief that we should be about the business of creating songs to Jesus, not just about Him.
Come, Holy Spirit
There would be no Vineyard today without the surprising inbreaking of the Holy Spirit's power and presence. Mother's Day evening 1979 would be pivotal to John Wimber's impact on our Movement. A young charismatic "Jesus Freak" named Lonnie Frisbee carried an incredible gifting in the areas of word-of-knowledge, healing, and evangelism. John Wimber felt a prompting to invite Frisbee to speak at Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda and reluctantly obeyed, aware that some regarded Frisbee as a bit of a wild card. Lonnie prayed "Come, Holy Spirit" at the end of his talk and, what ensued, seemed like mayhem. A new understanding of ministry in the power of the Spirit was modelled that night, as manifestations such as falling over, shaking, and speaking in tongues were experienced in a way unlike anything they had seen to that point. Those three words would become the heart cry of an entire Movement.
Meanwhile in Canada...
Though there were notable differences between the Canadian and American countercultures, the Jesus Movement here was remarkably similar to its prototype in Southern California. Kids in sandals and tie-dye shirts were transforming the mainstream church, filling Gothic spaces with fresh worship and encounters of the Holy Spirit. What resulted was a new expression of faith. The Yorkville hippie scene, the Jesus Forever Family at Rochdale College—Toronto's "hippie heart"—and Saint Margaret's Reformed Episcopal in East Vancouver are just some examples. As the Jesus People gave way to the Vineyard in the US, the Holy Spirit was awakening many scattered across the Canadian mainstream and evangelical community. Those once skittish of a more demonstrative Christianity—both in the work of the Holy Spirit and in communal worship expression—began to step out of the box and collide with the sensibilities of their various denominational structures and polity. This surge among conservative evangelicals became known as the "Third Wave" – a child of the Charismatic Movement, which had its genesis in the 1960s Jesus People ("Second Wave"), and the Pentecostal Movement which began in the 1920s ("First Wave"). This "Third Wave" flooded the Canadian landscape from coast to coast.
Church Renewal: Shaping the Canadian Story
For some, the Vineyard was our point of contact. We began to find each other around Vineyard DNA, drawn together by a common hunger for intimate worship, a fresh articulation of Kingdom theology, and a desire to take the risk of actually doing the works of Jesus, not just reading about or assenting to them. From the very beginning of the Vineyard, Wimber felt a call to this kind of church renewal. "Love the whole church," he would often say, and with this passion established Vineyard Ministries International (VMI). VMI was not intended to be a church planting arm of the burgeoning Movement, yet Wimber, along with his brother-in-law, Bob Fulton, kept running into people around the world who wanted to become part of what was happening. Other leaders from the US Vineyard would also begin to travel under the banner of VMI. Several made their way to Canadian soil. Subsequently, Canada would be a key player in influencing Vineyard leadership to expand beyond the States. Through relationship with several Canadians, the bonds between Vineyards in America and the growing interest in Canada became stronger. This dynamic was in play all across the country.
A ground-breaking community, particularly in the area of worship music, sprung up under the leadership of Gary and Joy Best in the Lower Mainland of BC in 1985. Their contact point was directly with the Anaheim Vineyard and what was happening in SoCal. In the Okanagan Valley, a newly planted Baptist Church under the leadership of David and Anita Ruis and Wesley and Stacey Campbell, encountered an extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit in 1987, marked by prophecy and evangelis-tic growth. Vineyard teaching provided a grid for what was happening to them. Their contact point was mainly through American leaders living in Canada at the time. This church in Kelowna would be adopted into the family through a connection with the Bests at the newly founded Langley Vineyard. The late 80s also saw a stirring in believers throughout the Edmonton area after a Wimber conference in the city. Future Vineyard leaders like Mark andBrenda Wollenberg were captivated by what they experienced. Their contact point would be the Vineyard in Fort Collins, Colorado. In Calgary, Mark Coppersmith and Bob McKenzie were developing relationship with Gary Best and American Ken Blue, who had relocated to BC. Blue was an influential teacher and practioner in kingdom theology and ministry, with close ties to Wimber.
Moving eastward, Southern Ontario would undergo the same type of awakening during this period. People like John and Carol Arnott, Steve and Christina Stewart, and Bob and Sue Buckley would build connection with a wide swath of US Vineyard leaders – including Kenn Gulliksen and the Laguna Vineyard, which sent teams into Toronto monthly. In Atlantic Canada, leaders such as Larry and Karen Levy and Rik and Cathy Berry (all graduates of Acadia Divinity College) had been transformed by Vineyard teaching at a "Power Evangelism" conference in Birmingham, Alabama—to the degree that they could not go back to what they knew before. After a visit from the Gulliksens, who were now in the Boston area, Levy's church joined the family and were, in Larry's words, "grafted in" as part of the Northeast Region of the US Vineyard.
In 1994, at Ontario's Minaki Lodge, the Wimbers and Fultons began a process with Canadian Vineyard leaders that would, in 1995, result in Canada becoming the first country outside the US to be accorded independent status: the Association of Vineyard Churches Canada, with Gary and Joy Best as National Directors.
The Journey Continues
On both sides of the border, the 1990s proved to be a tumultuous season of experiencing and exploring the mystery of the Holy Spirit. Metro Vineyard Fellowship in Kansas City, MO carried a unique calling in the areas of the prophetic and intercession. Their influence was vital in furthering the Vineyard's understanding of the person and work of the Holy Spirit, and what it means to be a praying and prophetic people.
The Toronto Airport Vineyard church would experience a unique outpouring of the Holy Spirit that would become known as the "Toronto Blessing". It was an expression of church renewal that was exuberant and demonstrative. These Vineyards would garner international attention and have a ripple effect right across the broader church world. We had to find fresh articulation for our theology that would not only clarify our apologetic, but refine our pastoral care and ecclesiology. The effects of this decade continue to be felt. It was a season of great blessing, controversy, and a parting of ways. Just as Lonnie Frisbee's visit to Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda nearly twenty years earlier led to the establishing of the Anaheim Vineyard, Kansas City would go on to found the International House of Prayer. Toronto would start the Harvest Network and begin to plant Catch the Fire churches. Looking to the future, we know to expect beautiful and disruptive workings of the Spirit. We never want to shy away from the risk this work entails, or neglect the pastoral care and stewardship required. We pray for wisdom, revelation, and fire.