We’re Moving Home! cover image

We’re Moving Home!

‘Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.’  Genesis 26:18

On Easter Sunday, South West London Vineyard is moving home and we can’t wait!

Having outgrown our previous Sunday venue sometime back in 1991, the staff team at the time searched long and hard – and prayed even harder – that the Lord would provide us with a suitable home for our Sunday services from which we would be able to do all the things He was calling us into.

John & Debby Wright (who were on the staff team at the time and now lead both Trent Vineyard & VCUKI), came back with news that the search was finally over and a new home, at Elliott School, Putney, had been found.

For over 20 years the school gave us everything we needed and its rooms, corridors and halls bear witness to the story of hundreds of lives transformed and both a local church and a national movement being birthed.

Couples, who have now been married for years, met there. Weddings were celebrated. Incredible moves of the Spirit of God were encountered. Worship songs that brought blessing to the whole Body of Christ through albums like ‘Come Now Is The Time’ and ‘Hungry’ were recorded. Churches were planted. Ministers ordained. The hungry were fed. The lost saved. Captives set free. The sick healed. Parties thrown. Children discipled. Love Actually filmed….and most importantly literally hundreds of lives forever transformed by the wonderful Person of Jesus.

But, as we’ve always said, the church is not the building but the people, and South West London Vineyard remains a church filled with remarkable men and women of God longing to see the kingdom rule and reign of God breakthrough into our lives and the lives of those around us.

Once Elliott School had secured funding to carry out much needed structural refurbishment works, we were asked to vacate the space and so moved to Saint Cecilia’s School. Over the past five years Saint Cecilia’s has provided us with a wonderful home and the school and the whole team there have been a huge blessing to us as a church. 

Over that time, we have seen churches planted in Croydon, Kennington and Balham, rolled out a fresh approach to Small Groups, witnessed wonderful things happening at the Yard through Foodbank, Job Club and many other areas of ministry. We have seen the Lord in our midst, leading us and guiding us, as we have continued to see the lost saved, the sick healed and the oppressed set free. We have seen the church flourish and grow, even through some challenging and difficult seasons and the goodness and the kindness of the Lord has gone before us in all things.

We are incredibly grateful to Saint Cecilia’s for all they have done for us as a church and, as we leave, we pray the Lord’s abundant blessing on all they turn their hands to.

However, as we have now outgrown the space at Saint Cecilia’s, and having been invited back to the newly refurbished Ark Putney Academy, we sense the Spirit of God leading us into a new season. Back to a familiar place, but into an entirely new season. And through it all the Lord has been reminding us of this verse from Genesis 26, which he gave to us shortly before we took on the leadership of the church.

‘Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.’  Genesis 26:18

South West London Vineyard has been given a mandate by God. This year marks our 30th Anniversary – the oldest Vineyard church in the UK and the first Vineyard church in Europe. As one of the founding churches of a national movement of Vineyard churches, there is much that we hold dear, things that the Lord requires of us to remain faithful to and to cherish.

As a church, as we both return home and move forwards, mindful of all that the Lord has done in our midst over these past 30 years, it is a wonderful opportunity to remind ourselves of some of those ‘distinctives’ that the Lord has called us to as a Vineyard church. Where, over time, some of these ‘wells’ may have become ‘stopped up’, we are to re-double our efforts to ‘reopen these wells’, as we give them ‘the same names that our fathers had given them’. Values that we are to hold fast to like the Scriptures, the Kingdom of God, the Holy Spirit, Worship, Compassion, the Priesthood of all believers, Come as you are – don’t stay as you are, Naturally Supernatural, Equipping the Saints, Planting churches that plant churches and Leaders who walk with a limp. Over the coming weeks we’ll be posting some of these core Vineyard ‘distinctives’ as we think about ways in which together we can ensure they remain central to all that we are.

We may well be celebrating our 30th anniversary this year, but the truth is, we have only just begun! There is so much more to be done. That was then and this is now – ‘this is the day the Lord has made, we shall rejoice and be glad in it.’

There remains a great church, the South West London Vineyard, to be built. It is to be strengthened. It is to be extended. Its influence is to be even wider. There are other churches yet to be planted. There are thousands of people yet to come through our doors. There are thousands of people yet to find Jesus. There are thousands of people yet to be healed. There are thousands of the poor yet to be cared for. There are thousands of people who have a deep yearning to worship and don’t even know who!

John Wimber, who founded this family of churches called the Vineyard gave this mandate from the Lord to this church and, as we’ve always said, ‘old orders is good orders!’

‘There are hundreds and thousands of people in your city and across your land whose ears are straining to pick up a tune, whose feet are ready to march to its beat – go home and build a church for those people.’

As we move into the Ark, the Lord is calling us all, once again, to build a church for these people. To make room for those who don’t yet know Him. To minister His love to those searching for Him. To demonstrate His grace to those in need of a loving touch. To minister in power to those in need of His Spirit.

There are wells to be re-opened, there are wells to be re-named and we look forward to ministering and co-labouring alongside you, the wonderful men and women of this church, as we see His kingdom come and His will done, for the glory and the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Neil & Kate Woodward
Senior Leaders

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