Cabramatta Vineyard Church began as Southwest Vineyard Christian Fellowship in 1995, started by Greg and Diane Trainor on their return from three years in Canada. The first meeting in their home in Guildford was attended by Jill Trainor and Roy Tooth. Judy Wicks joined a few weeks later.
The Trainors moved to Vancouver in mid 1992 so that Diane could pursue her career with accounting giant, KPMG, staying until the end of 1994. Greg almost completed a Master of Christian Studies at Regent College.
Greg & Di joined the Vancouver Vineyard Christian Fellowship (now Vancouver Eastside Vineyard) where God turned their lives upside down. Greg became associate pastor in mid 1993 and they were sent out as church planters at the end of 1994.
The Southwest Vineyard was one of eleven Australian Vineyard churches released in Perth on 26 February 1995. Greg and Di were in this first group of Australian Vineyard pastors commissioned by John Wimber.
The church had a slow, painful birth when Greg and Diane suffered personal tragedy in the first year. They met with a small group of faithful people for nearly two years without much growth. The group doubled in size in 1997 and again in 1998.
The church gathered at King Park Public School for several years, moving to Cabramatta Public School in July 2000, then to our own leased facility in Park Road, Cabramatta in 2001, growing to about a hundred people.
Somewhere along the way, Greg realized that doing church the old way is not a very effective way of making disciples who actually follow Jesus. He began reading, teaching, then exploring a missional approach to church – the people of God living as a people sent into the world bearing God’s good news.
Our name changed to Cabramatta Vineyard Church in June 2002 to identify more strongly with our area as we began exploring the idea of church as a “missional community”.
In 2001, Grant & Karen Dempsey were sent out to plant a Vineyard Church in Timaru, New Zealand accompanied by Paul & Jenny Matos. In 2003, Jeff & Carol Fazl, two of the original Australian Vineyard pastors, were released with a team of people to plant a Vineyard Church in Richmond in the northwest of Sydney.
In late 2003, we vacated the premises in Park Road and moved to the Cabramatta Inn, where we met for several years on the first and third Sunday afternoon each month. On the alternate Sundays, the small groups began experimenting with missional activities, seeking to engage with the local community and win people to Jesus.
The life of the Cabramatta Vineyard Church is built around three strands of mission, community and spiritual life, woven together like the cord of a rope. Each strand is important. Together, they structure the life of an apprentice of Jesus, intertwined and interdependent.
Over the following decade, we dismantled the church that we had, trained ourselves to be missionaries and reinvented church as a network of organic missional communities. Rather than seeing ourselves as a single ship on a mission, we began to see ourselves as a fleet of sailing ships catching the wind of the Spirit.
In 2009, Greg & Diane were invited to join the board of Vineyard Churches Australia by the National Directors, Peter & Kathy Downes.
In 2012, Jeff & Janise Williams were released to plant a Vineyard in nearby Canley Heights. In the same year, Judy Wicks stepped into the role of Associate Pastor of Cabramatta Vineyard after operating in the role for many years. 2013 saw Carl & Tabitha Noonan released to plant Seed Vineyard in Sydney’s inner-west. 2015 saw Sherri Burton step into role of Assistant Pastor.
Our missional experiment had a few differing results. Some of the ships sailed away on to different journeys or joined new fleets and some canoes drifted away. Some crew stayed and maintained the ship, whilst others dived into new ways of doing mission in their everyday context. As a local church we continued to meet fortnightly in homes, at Cabramatta High School, Cabramatta West Public School and at the Meeting Rooms in Bonnyrigg.
A decade on from there, we found ourselves meandering through a rugged valley, as our community was hit with numerous unsettling events, including illnesses, losses, and relational conflicts, all leaving us pretty battered. Our small, but committed core hung in there, continuing to pray for the Kingdom of God to breakthrough in Cabramatta. All the while, we continued engaging with the wider Vineyard Australia body.
In 2018, Vineyard Churches Australia hosted Putty Putman from the Urbana Vineyard Church in Illinois for a national tour of state conferences. Greg followed Putty around the country, leading ministry teams for each conference, each team consisting of people from interstate vineyard churches, including many from Cabramatta. These conferences brought many churches out of a season of pruning and into a new season of fruitfulness. The following year, Cabramatta Vineyard Church, along with a couple of other Vineyards, held their first class of School of Kingdom Ministry. SoKM brought a fresh approach and a reactivating of moving in the prophetic, healing the sick, engaging with scripture, doing power evangelism.
The Cabramatta Vineyard Church moved into a rebuilding phase. We began revisiting the Vineyard Core Values, pushing into worship and community with intentionality and a high priority on seeking the Lord’s voice communally. We met fortnightly at Bonnyrigg Meeting Rooms on Sunday mornings and continued to work on rebuilding community. Small groups were an ongoing place of fellowship, our Mainly Music playgroup celebrated 15 years of ministering to families in the local community and a 2nd class for the School of Kingdom Ministry was initiated.
And then COVID-19 hit!
Throughout the pandemic Cabramatta Vineyard Church met weekly online via Zoom. We had people leading worship and teaching the Bible from their living rooms and we prayed for one another in ‘breakout rooms’. We did what we could to support some of those in our local community who were struggling the most with the effects of lockdowns, joblessness, sickness & isolation.
In late 2020, restrictions eased and we were able to meet face to face again. We started gathering at the Cabramatta German Austrian Club every Sunday morning. We began to regain some of the momentum that COVID had stolen and started exploring once again how we could engage in the mission of Jesus in our local communities while at the same time providing a harbour to equip and connect everyone who called themselves a part of the Cabramatta Vineyard Church.
In mid 2022, Alysha & Glen Davidson stepped into the role of Lead Pastors of the Cabramatta Vineyard Church after serving as Assistant Pastors for several years. Alysha is one of four Australians currently doing a mentorship program with South African Vineyard theologian, Derek Morphew. Greg took some well-earned long service leave to explore what his next season of life and ministry might hold and in 2023 he retired from leadership at Cabramatta Vineyard and the Vineyard Churches Australia national board. He continues to serve and minister in both those spheres.
Cabramatta Vineyard Church is an incorporated association governed by a missional council representing the different elements of a growing missional network. The Council oversees all of the affairs of the network – financial, administrative and pastoral.
Vineyard Churches Australia
Cabramatta Vineyard Church belongs to Vineyard Churches Australia, which is part of the international Vineyard movement. VCA is a voluntary association of autonomous churches sharing common values, priorities and practices. We contribute 5% of our tithes and offerings to VCA to promote church planting and mission.
Vineyard Churches were released in Australia by John Wimber in March 1995 under the oversight of International Director, Bob Fulton. In 1997, Brian Anderson, pastor of Vineyard North Phoenix, Arizona, took over as overseer.
In February 2003, Peter & Kathy Downes from the Yarra Valley VCF became the first Australian national directors. Kirk & Nicole Delaney from Pine Rivers VCF now serve as national directors of Vineyard Churches Australia since accepting the role in 2016.
The Australian Vineyard has grown from eleven churches in 1995 to more than twenty churches spread across Australia. We operate as a family of churches. Today there are 2400+ Vineyards around the world in 95 countries.
The Vineyard Story
You can read more about the Vineyard story here.