A few weeks ago, all the Vineyard churches in East Anglia joined together for one virtual church service! We chatted with Craig Deal, who leads the East Anglia area, to find what they got up to and how it went.
“A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to gather together as Vineyard churches in the East Anglia area for a joint service. A number of our pastors were feeling particularly stretched in this season, and so we thought it would be helpful and encouraging to work together and share our resources. The service was a win because we were able to celebrate all that God is doing, and emphasise our value that we are all part of something bigger!
Our heart was to make sure all the churches in the area were represented well, while also giving a break to those who needed it. We compiled a band [remotely] with musicians from different churches and they led us beautifully into the presence of Jesus during worship. We gathered stories from different churches and found out about new ministries that had been started during lockdown to meet the needs of people that are struggling in our communities. Here are a few great stories!
Vicki is part of Gateway Vineyard and shared about how they have supported 196 families (798 people) since setting up ‘The Pantry’ at the start of lockdown. The Pantry started with five bags of food when Gateway Vineyard realised that a number of families they knew of through their Compassion Ministries were struggling financially in the pandemic and didn’t have enough food. The Pantry quickly grew, backed by the local council and other key agencies, and people who are part of Gateway Vineyard Church generously donating food, money, drivers and admin support. They give food to anyone, without a criteria of need, and people are invited to place an order with them – which gives choice and makes sure everyone gets exactly what they need.
Emma leads Stour Valley Vineyard and shared a story about one member of their congregation who invited their friend from a different country to watch their services. This friend was tuning and connecting with the church when their husband contracted Coronavirus, and so they asked Stour Valley Vineyard to pray for him. Her husband was healed from Coronavirus, and the friend who had drifted away from Jesus rededicated her life to him! Her husband made a commitment to Jesus too!
Jude shared about ‘GrowKids’, an initiative Cambridge Vineyard has set up in lockdown to give clothes away to kids up to ten-years-old. Lockdown is a crazy time to launch something new but Jude shared how they have been blown away by God’s goodness and his provision… just at the right moment! They had outgrown the garage they were using to store donations when the council offered a new, bigger garage space that now works perfectly. Because of this, Cambridge Vineyard has been able to connect with and provide for so many people. They’ve met families from all backgrounds – some who are usually self-sufficient but due to redundancies or furlough are struggling, young first-time mums looking for support and others with long term chronic conditions who need help. Jude shared that it’s been a huge privilege to serve their community, in this way, at this time!
We celebrated church planting as we heard from Matt and Tor who are planting Thetford Vineyard, and shared our vision that we would be people who are salt and light in every town, village and city in East Anglia. That we would plant churches, sites and groups in every community. That every workplace, toddler group, school, university, coffee shop and pub would have people in it who are God’s salt and light. That not one part of East Anglia would be left in darkness.
We’ve had an incredible response – people loved hearing the stories and that feeling that we are all part of something bigger. We are continuing to support one another by sharing talks and resources, so that pastors can get a break over the summer!
We love working together as a Vineyard family.”