History of the Vineyard Movement
Palo Alto Vineyard Church is part of a growing association of over 1,500 churches worldwide, including 550+ churches in the United States. To learn how we started out in Palo Alto, back in the mid-1980s, read our history.
The story of the Vineyard in the USA.
Vineyard Christian Fellowship began inauspiciously in 1974 as a young man named Ken Gulliksen led a small fellowship of burned-out Christians in the Los Angeles area. Those first meetings included a large amount of singing and worshipping God in an attempt to experience Him as a living, life-changing friend and not just as a theory, which had been the experience of all too many in the group. Their little fellowship grew quickly as people got wind of the fresh work of God that seemed to be happening in their meetings.
By 1982, more than a thousand people were bursting the seams of the high school gym where they were meeting. They began looking for someone who could give the shape to this rapidly-expanding movement of now seven churches, and approached a young pastor named John Wimber.
A former professional musician, Wimber had moved into the ministry after experiencing some dramatic works of God. After spending several years training ministers at Fuller Theological Seminary, he and his wife Carol began meeting with a small group of Christians who—much like those under Gulliksen’s leadership—were looking for a fresh experience of God that seemed more like the dynamic, supernatural experience of following Jesus Christ that they read about in the New Testament.
Wimber took over the leadership of Vineyard churches and shortly thereafter Gulliksen moved to Boston to start one of the first East Coast Vineyards. John Wimber died in 1997 from a brain hemorrhage, leaving behind a congregation of five thousand people and an association of churches reaching more than a hundred thousand people.
Vineyard churches have been known for helping people find a fresh experience of God in an informal, contemporary setting. Many Vineyard songs are sung worldwide, across many denominations, in keeping with a vision not only to build up Vineyard churches, but to bless and encourage as many churches as possible.
For more on the history of the Vineyard, visit the Vineyard USA's web site.