Our Story

What is the Vineyard?

The Vineyard story is about ordinary people who worship and serve an extraordinary God. The Vineyard is simply one thread in the rich tapestry of the historic and global Church of Jesus Christ. But it is a thread of God's weaving.

From the beginning, Vineyard pastors and leaders have sought to hold in tension the biblical doctrines of the Christian faith with an ardent pursuit of the present day work of the Spirit of God. Maintaining that balance is never easy in the midst of rapid growth and renewal.

In 1982, John Wimber-a pastor and church consultant-was asked to serve as the leader of a newly-formed association of about nine churches (all in Southern California) that called themselves the "Vineyard". As the leader of this new movement, known as the Association of Vineyard Churches, John pastored the pastors and trained and encouraged the planting of churches internationally. John died in November 1997.
Worldwide, Vineyard churches have been planted in many nations including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, Russia, Turkey, throughout the European continent, Africa, Southeast Asia, and in Australia.
The Association of Vineyard Churches is a diverse group of churches that partner together to advance the kingdom of God by communicating the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed. Through many localized expressions, Vineyard churches aim to:
  • Worship God and stand on the ancient truth of the Scripture, the guide for faith, life, and service.
  • Grow as a people of both the Word and Spirit, imbued with power for the purpose of making and nurturing mature disciples of Jesus Christ.
  • Create reproducing missional communities of worship, discipleship, evangelism and service.
  • Serve the Father in the power of the Spirit, following Jesus' holistic and incarnational ministry of proclaiming and manifesting the kingdom of God.
What We Believe
More information on the Association of Vineyard Churches can be found at their website, http://www.vineyardusa.org/

Our Founders

Missionaries from Kansas:  Bruce and Elaine Wimberley began a small group in the late 1970's studying "How to be a Christian Without Being Religious."  Bruce ran into some conflict with the Baptist church when he began to encounter Holy Spirit in ways that made the church leaders uncomfortable.  After this point, the small group grew into a house church which was called Living Way.  

Bruce was ordained in 1976, and in 1977 following a prophetic word that God was calling them to move to Mississippi, he and a group of roughly 35 church members sold their homes & farms and moved to Mississippi as missionaries to plant a church. At the time, racial tensions were high, and nowhere more so than in Mississippi. They quickly joined the Jackson Covenant as part of a house church network, and recieved a word that they were to "reach the lost sheep of the tribe of Israel" meaning to focus on bringing back those who had left the church. They initially were still a house church, meeting in Bruce & Elaine's home and having monthly meetings with two other house church groups (one from Mobile and one from Pascagoula) but these groups slowly combined over time, and began meeting where ever they could find to meet, including a storage room, a bank lobby, a dance studio, and a printing company before finally being able to rent a store-front in Pearl, MS.  

Community Covenant was one of very few racially integrated churches at the time, and participated in a lot of racial reconciliation work, including being part of the Mississippi Crusade for Christ - the first black crusade ever held in Mississippi - in which Bruce was chosen as a member of the board. During this time, the members of this group faced harassment for the sake of their choice to be a racially integrated church.

In 1977, they were released from Jackson Covenant and became an independant church under the name Community Covenant.
Becoming Vineyard:  Jim Hitt was called to preach in 1984 on Pentecost Sunday, and that same year he and his wife Margaret began a College & Career bible study for young adults in their home, which quickly became a church in 1987.  At that time, they met at a lodge on the Ross Barnett Reservoir.  They bapitized children in the water lilies at the reservoir, and had Easter Sunrise service at the Natchez Trace Overlook.  Jim and Margaret were ordained in 1988, and founded Vineyard Christian Fellowship.  In 1990 their church began meeting in the Community Covenant building, and Jim began to introduce Bruce to the Vineyard Movement, a process Bruce describes as a "3 year courtship".

In 1993, Jim Hitt invited Bruce Wimberley on a mission trip to Colombia.  On that trip Jim & Bruce saw 30 healings and 100+ salvations, and Bruce recieved a prophetic word from Chuck Apperson that he would be put over the Vineyard Colombian partnership (at the time there was no Colombia partnership and the church Bruce led was not yet a part of the Vineyard.)  Later that year,  Bruce became a Vineyard pastor and Community Covenant became Vineyard Church of Jackson.  Jim and Margaret stepped down from pastoring and joined with Bruce's church so that they could focus more on missions & evangelism.  Bruce contiued to be involved with missions and church planting in Costa Rica and Colombia, and he did ultimately become the head of the Vineyard Colombia partnership when it was formed. Bruce remained the senior leader of Vineyard Jackson for 19 years, and handed leadership of the church and the Colombia partnership to Duke & Marie Lancaster in 2012. 

(  For more info on where Duke & Marie are now, check out metronministries.org   )

Where we are now...

Beau and Rachel Burnham are the third generation of leaders for the Vineyard Jackson, having been handed the reigns in January 2022 from Duke and Marie Lancaster, but in many ways we are still just the same as we always were. We have always been a church which focuses on simple faith and being naturally supernatural in every part of our lives.  From the start we have been hungry to encounter God however He chooses to come, and we have been reluctant to uphold traditions merely for the sake of tradition.  Every step of our journey has been propelled by Holy Spirit.

In this season, we are going back to our roots and preparing to become a staging ground for church planting by teaching all of our members a simple but powerful model for how to "do church" in their own homes with their families, neighbors and friends. We believe  the Lord has called Vineyard Jackson to be an equipping center where we will equip, empower and mobilize warriors for the Kingdom and send them out to do the stuff.  

We hope you'll be a part of our story