And so we came to our first official Manchester Vineyard gathering on 15th July 2016. Even the location seemed fitting as Paul and Steph had spoken earlier of their fresh excitement when reading the book of Acts.
It was hot, loud (due to passing bus routes and the general buzz of a large group in small space all desperate to build a community and form relationships) but nonetheless wonderfully exciting.
It was here that those we’d met or who had found us through social media, heard Paul and Steph’s story. How they were from elsewhere but had met in Manchester during The Message 2000; how they had powerfully encountered the Holy Spirit; how the very next day, they had met each other; how their sense of calling to church plant had been confirmed though countless words and even a stranger on a plane who had yet to meet Jesus; how the number of words had grown to 70 in one year. There was no getting away from this. God could not speak any clearer.
By the second meeting, two weeks later, we had already outgrown the venue. Students, teachers, project managers, medics, accountants, those who had known Jesus for years, those yet to meet Him, those struggling to find a church to call home – a whole spectrum of experiences met to hear about the journey and see if this was the place for them.
After sharing their story and outlining what joining this Vineyard church would look like, Paul and Steph summed up their vision:
If we could put our desire for Manchester Vineyard into one sentence, it would be that we want to gather together a group of people who will love Jesus and love Manchester.
We want to focus on prioritising intimate worship with God, being shaped and restored by Him, and sharing the Kingdom message and ministry of Jesus, through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
This is all for Him and all about Him and we just long to participate with Him as He builds this new church.
We worshipped in the intimate way the Vineyard had become characterised for back in the earliest days, asked the Lord to speak, prayed for each other and resumed getting to know as many people as possible.
As we cleared away, I don’t think any of us doubted we’d made the right choice. There had been tears, battles (some ongoing) to find jobs, unnecessary complications finding homes – but God was there. We were expectant to see a powerful move of Him, even in those early days.