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Meet John & Eleanor Mumford

an interview from 1998

A history of how the Vineyard began in the UK & Ireland and an introduction to John & Eleanor Mumford.

We sit in John’s office, the quiet suburban motion passes by anonymously outside. John reclines in his IKEA chair despite professed nervousness at what is about to occur. Eleanor meanwhile has sat herself down full of excitement at the chance for a good chat and to share some of her favourite stories before picking her sons up from school. We plunge right in and ask how they met.

“I always remember meeting John,” Eleanor recalls.

Their romance began in St Andrews, Scotland, where John was reading Theology, and from where Eleanor had gone on to post-graduate study in nearby Edinburgh. Eleanor would visit her family and mutual Christian friends in St Andrews. “Everybody told me about this young fellow that had come up from London, the answer to every maiden’s prayer, and so I was determined to be unimpressed. He was great fun, but I wasn’t going to fall for that. We got to know each other, though, over two years. John would do a lot of evangelism with students, as I would do lunch parties, so we ended up doing a lot of things together to evangelise the students. We enjoyed each others company, but it was never more than that.”

John had come up to St Andrews having defected from a dream to be a doctor. “When I was in Sixth Form, we had individual bedrooms and study, and increasingly people would come and speak to me in the privacy of my study about Christianity. I had this sort of black market in Christian books, John Stott, Dr Schaeffer, and increasingly I thought to myself ‘this is so wonder¬ful, wouldn’t it be great to spend my life doing this.’ Up until then, all I had wanted to do was medicine. I even had my own skeleton, my own copy of Cray’s Anatomy, and my own bits of carved up rat in formaldehyde.”

Meanwhile, Eleanor had become a Christian in Edinburgh after a friend of hers had prayed every day for five years that she’d be saved. “Before that, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had had all sorts of exciting ideas. I wanted to work in Parliament as a researcher at one point, I was always interested in politics, the Commons and history. The one thing I said I would never do was teach. As soon as I got saved the Lord completely changed me. Suddenly, I couldn’t swear anymore, and from a deadly profession, teaching became a vocation – a dramatic change in two weeks.”