A Heritage of Leadership: Vineyard USA History Overview

The Five: Current and Past Vineyard USA National Directors

A few days ago I mentioned that the Vineyard USA had recently installed a new National Director; well today, I have discovered (via Jason Clark) an amazing article on the Vineyard USA homesite giving a short history of the movement and the previous five USA national directors.

Some of the highlights of the article – which I encourage everyone to read in full – as listed below:

The Five
  • Kenn Gulliksen (late 1970’s-1982)
  • John Wimber (1982-1995)
  • Todd Hunter (1995-2000)
  • Bert Waggoner (2000-2012)
  • Phil Strout (2012-Present)

As a side note, I love the fact that they mentioned Kenn as he was very foundational in starting the Vineyard Movement. Yet, sadly enough, his leadership is sometimes forgot due to the huge shadow cast by John Wimber.

Todd Hunter’s Leadership Years

The late 1990’s were a turbulent time full of controversial prophetic and renewal meetings and shifting worldviews, not to mention the fact that John Wimber died in 1997, causing more uneasiness… Talk about getting handed a hornets nest!

Having not been there (I joined in 2003), I can’t comment on how well or not-so-well Todd navigating these waters…Yet, what I can tell you is that Todd was on the forefront of the shifting worldview in the USA. This came to light for me a few years ago when I was studying the emerging church. His name (along with some others in the Vineyard) kept popping up time and time again from different sources and denominations. God really used him to spark a worldwide movement that goes beyond the Vineyard; we were just blessed enough to have him journey with us for a while (he is now an Anglican Bishop and author).

Bert Waggoner’s Leadership Years

Having joined the Vineyard in 2003, Bert is really the only National Director I have known (granted I did met Todd Hunter a few years ago over coffee). Regardless of having or not having a ‘baseline’, I think Bert did a great job guiding the Vineyard over the past twelve years and helping us becomes stronger theologically and in practice.

Last week Bert summarized the top five priorities that motivated his tenure as National Director. I have quoted these priorites below in their entirely (as recorded in the aforementioned article):

“First, Bert led the Vineyard into empowering women to serve in all positions of leadership in the Vineyard, so that leadership potential would not be based on gender, but rather on gifting.

“Second, Bert led the Vineyard into expanding the message and practice of the kingdom of God, including issues of caring for the poor, addressing social justice, multiplying cultural and ethnic diversity, and engaging in the area of creation care. He also participated with other evangelical movements in their call for immigration reform and for equal justice between Israelis and Palestinians.

“Third, Bert called the Vineyard to a greater appreciation for the whole church. He warned against the dangers of sectarianism and engaged the Vineyard in multiple ecumenical ventures. He called the Vineyard to remember Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17 for unity among followers of Jesus.

“Fourth, Bert called the Vineyard to continue embracing the tension between rationalistic resistance to the Spirit, and religious and emotional fanaticism. This involves diligent discernment of the work of God within healthy communities.

“Fifth, Bert called the Vineyard to increased engagement in a breadth of theological issues. He founded the Society of Vineyard Scholars and encouraged theological work, both in empowering scholars but also in calling pastors to a deeper level of theological reflection.”

Moving Forward Under Phil Strout

It is no surprise to those who read this blog that I am excited about the future of the Vineyard. I think Jesus has some great things for us as a movement and Phil is the one gifted by the Spirit to guide us into waters unknown.

Granted, there are some challenges ahead for us but there are also some great opportunities! 😀

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