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John Wimber, whose ministry helped spawn new theological lingo and mass Christian movements—including the Vineyard—died on November 17, the result of a fall that caused a fatal brain hemorrhage. He was 63.

Wimber had already recovered from cancer in 1993 and a stroke in 1995 (CT, Oct. 7, 1996, p. 49). Last year he underwent triple-bypass heart surgery.

At a November 21 memorial service, an overflow crowd spilled out of the Anaheim (Calif.) Vineyard Christian Fellowship (VCF)'s 3,200 seats and into the aisles and outer rooms where big-screen monitors were stationed. In a fashion Wimber surely would have appreciated, the church he founded worshiped to the accompaniment of electric guitars, keyboards, and the soft beat of drums. Wimber had recently retired as pastor of the church (CT, July 14, 1997, p. 46).

Wimber graduated from Azusa Pacific University in 1970 and pastored the Yorba Linda Friends Church for five years. In 1974, Wimber began breaking traditional evangelical molds when he became director of church growth at the Fuller Evangelistic Association. He later taught a controversial and well-attended "Signs and Wonders and Church Growth" class at Fuller Theological Seminary. In 1978 he became full-time pastor of what became VCF in Yorba Linda, California.

ENORMOUS IMPACT: From that congregation, the Vineyard movement now has grown to nearly 500 churches nationwide and another 250 internationally.

Today, thousands of traditional evangelical churches each Sunday sing Vineyard-produced songs, and Wimber's effective marketing has offered many Protestant denominations and individuals a nonthreatening way of charismatic expression.

"The Vineyard has exercised influence all out of proportion to its numbers," Regent University ...

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In the Magazine

January 12, 1998

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