The 'Place' it all Began, March 10th 2022
I remember falling face down and weeping on the steps at the Anaheim Vineyard many years ago. At that moment, God asked me a question that would set the trajectory of my ministry for years to come. Many times over the years I have returned to the Anaheim Vineyard–back to the beginning–to the ‘place’ that was the starting point.
Jesus had a ‘place’ like this at the Jordan River. In the gospel of John 10:40-42, Jesus returns to the ‘place’ where it all began for Him. The ‘place’ He went public as John the Baptist called Him the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” The ‘place’ He was baptized and empowered with the Spirit.
Jesus returns to this sacred 'place' to remember. Does He see stones that recall the 12 stones placed as a memorial when Joshua led Israel across the Jordan to enter the promised land? Stones which God had told them to place as a memorial to teach the future generation of the greatness of God (Joshua 4:20-24). These are not stones to make an idol of–or to cling to with some sentimental feelings, asking "why can’t we go back to the good ole times"–no! These stones celebrate the past and point to the future as the “Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
Where God meets us matters.
As Jesus sits at this 'place' of beginnings and remembers Joshua’s miraculous crossing of the Jordan, He knows that He is about to cross the Jordan of death to lead us into our inheritance of salvation. He also celebrates John the Baptist, whose witness is still ringing in people’s ears; even as many gather with Him at this ‘place’ and place their faith in Jesus. This ‘place’ is just dirt, rocks, and water–it is common ground that is transformed by the Living God.
For many of us in the Vineyard family, the Anaheim church building is this ‘place.’ We followed our Joshua, John Wimber, through many Jordan crossings. The building itself serves as the 12 stones of a memorial, celebrating what God has done in the Vineyard. It is a signpost pointing to our inheritance of what God is going to do in the Vineyard. On our watch as Vineyard leaders, let us say with Naboth, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” (1 Kings 21:3) No, we will fight for this ‘place’, this Vineyard, our inheritance.
Just as Jesus returned to this sacred ‘place’ to be renewed before going to finish His ministry, I believe that in the next few years, the global Vineyard family will regather at the ‘place’ where it all began.
Jamie and Kim Stilson
Stealing a Vineyard, February 28th, 2022
My wife gets “sympathy pains” when someone she loves is hurt. When I have blood running out of a cut on my leg, she will say to me, “I must really love you, because I feel deep pain on the insides of my legs.” This is how we felt when we heard the news of the Scott's taking the Vineyard of Anaheim away from the Association of Vineyard Churches. We must really love the Vineyard family as we have experienced such deep pain!
We have been part of the Vineyard since the early 80s. John Wimber was a father to us and the Vineyard is our family. As a family, we have had many disagreements with decisions that were made over the years, but the Vineyard is still our family. In our personal family, we can get very emotional with each other as we argue our views–but try stepping in from the outside to attack one of us and you will see our family circle the wagons and go on the offensive very passionately. This is what the Scott’s are about to experience worldwide from the Vineyard family.
Yes, the Anaheim Vineyard had been in decline for several years before the Scott’s stepped in to lead it. It sounds like they have turned the church around and great things are happening among them–the very “stuff” the founder of the church, John Wimber, gave his blood, sweat, and tears to see happen. However, this church was the flagship of the Vineyard for years, leaders all over the world have been trained there, and many of us found ourselves face down on the carpet broken before Jesus. It is a sacred place to the Vineyard family. It is not an idol (as it is just a building), but it represents a symbol of what God has done among us over these past 40 years.
We have heard no compelling message for why they must leave the Vineyard. They have not attempted to process their decision with the AVC leadership. Even with the leadership restructure, the theology, values, priorities, and mission of the Vineyard have not changed. For whatever reason, the Vineyard is no longer a fit for the Scott’s–that is between them and Jesus–but they have no right to steal a building and bank account worth millions. It is one thing to take the people who want to follow you out of the Vineyard and go somewhere else with our blessing. But you have no integrity if you take something that belongs to the Vineyard family–something you have little blood, sweat, and tears invested in.
Quoting John Wimber’s words to justify your decision is both completely out of context and arrogant. Those of us who knew John understand how deeply upset he would be with a young leader misrepresenting him in such a self-serving way.
This troubling circumstance will serve to confirm who is really part of the Vineyard family as we experience the sad feelings of “sympathy pain”. As for my wife and I–representing the Vineyard Church that we lead–we stand “all in” with Jay and Danielle Pathak and our Vineyard family. Lead us on into the great future the Lord has for this Vineyard tribe in His Kingdom.
In pain, Jamie and Kim Stilson