A quarter of a century.
That’s how long the Vineyard has been doing ministry in Greater Cincinnati and beyond. Or at least that’s when we began holding Sunday morning celebrations. Prior to that, there were a few small groups and a Sunday night gathering at a house and later a Kindercare. At one point before 1985, we had a brief stint with an afternoon service in a Junior Achievement building somewhere in Blue Ash if I remember correctly.
But Sunday mornings began in the Hayloft square dance barn on Glensprings Drive off Route 4 where Perkins currently sits. The Hayloft was later relocated to Winton Woods and renamed Parky’s Barn.
We had a grand total of thirty-seven people…including the band.
I’ve only done two other things longer than twenty-five years: follow Jesus…and be married. Interesting: the three things I’ve done the longest were the best decisions I ever made. Or sometimes I think they were made for me in my most Calvinistic moments. Regardless, there wasn’t great clarity involved. I think I was actually pretty nervous making each decision. I’m not sure what that means.
Anyway, let me help you feel old. Or if you’re young, incredulous.
1985 was the year. I was still traveling and playing music in band called Prodigal. We recorded our third album that year in several locations using a 24-track mobile recording truck (hey, it was still state-of-the-art then with two-inch magnetic tape…) from Full Sail Recording in Orlando. And we were still scraping by. But on weekends when I wasn't on the road, Anita and I were at this new little church plant called the Vineyard. I left Prodigal the following year and, very reluctantly (to put it mildly), began leading worship each week as a volunteer. And for the next four years before coming on staff.
In 1985, Gorbachev became President of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union no longer exists. Now it’s only Russia with Medvedev (*cough*-Putin-*cough*) as President.
“Back To the Future” was the big movie with groundbreaking special effects. Have you seen it lately? The effects are as bad as Star Wars.
The first Blockbuster Video store opened in Texas. Try finding one now. It was delisted on the NYSE a few months back and two weeks ago declared bankruptcy. Stocks are at six cents.
In 1985, Coke introduced New Coke. Three months later it was back to Old Coke.
Calvin and Hobbes made their first appearance. Genius. But after ten years, creator Bill Watterson put away his pens.
In 1985 I bought my first computer: a Commodore SX64. A beautiful portable computer that only weighed twenty-three pounds, had a cover that popped off and became the keyboard (complete with attached telephone-type curly cord), and an amazing 5-inch color screen (the first on a “portable”). I ran Dr. T sequencing software (rows and rows of numbers) for the new world of MIDI-controlled instruments (MIDI protocol had only been adopted two years earlier: Spec 1.0). What’s more it had a whopping 170 kilobytes of hard drive storage. Yowza!
To put this in scale, a little classic iPod can hold 167,772,160 kilobytes if my math is correct. And, as you can guess, the Commodore SX64 is no longer around.
A lot of things come and go in twenty-five years.
But the Vineyard is still here.
I don’t know totally what that means, but I’d say that servanthood, kindness, mercy, grace, Holy Spirit power, vision, forgiveness and acceptance never go out of style. Or as Paul the apostle put it: “There are three things that will endure—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”
If we can remember that, I think the next twenty-five will go swimmingly.