In 1991 John and Gwen Elmer felt called by God to move back to Syracuse to start a Vineyard church. They wanted to develop a church that had a “come as you are and be loved” atmosphere. The church started with a small group of six meeting in the Elmer’s living room which grew to two small groups. In February 1992 the Vineyard had its first public service on a Sunday night in a rented space at a local church with 30 adults in attendance. In 1995 the church rented its own space over a pizzeria in the village of Camillus and started having Sunday morning services. As people’s lives were impacted the church grew rapidly and went to two services.
1999 brought about a big step forward for the church. When we outgrew the space in the village of Camillus God miraculously allowed us to purchase our own building for about 25% of its assessed value. In this 44,000 square foot building we were able to serve the community in many new ways. We had community-wide art shows, theater productions, concerts featuring straight edge bands, Halloween parties and an art gallery, http://vineyardny.org/gallery312/.
Our biggest change to date came in 2009 when we became a multi-site church. We started our first location in Auburn with long time staff member Chris Goral serving as the site pastor. In the fall of 2010 we started our second site near Syracuse University. In November 2012 we opened our Cicero site. We are planning for more new sites in the future.
Over the last 20 years we have also planted seven new churches from Dewitt, NY to Asheville, NC. Click here to see a list of our church plants.
We believe in the next 10 years God is inviting us to start 10 new congregations across New York State and beyond. It will be a wild adventure but God has been with us every step of the way over the first 20 years.