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History of the Deer Lodge Vineyard

Mike and Sandee Sampson, pastors of the Klamath Falls Vineyard in Oregon, believe in the power of God to change lives. Their legacy of Kingdom ministry includes loving Stan and Debbie Jones. With a vision to “love, mend, train, and send,” Stan and Debbie were sent by the Klamath Falls fellowship to plant a church in Helena, Montana. They found good soil and, almost two decades later, the Kingdom seeds they cultivated continue to grow at what’s now known as the Valley Vineyard.

Around 1998, Tom and Sheri Wilson stumbled into a Helena Vineyard meeting and began the process of learning about the words and works of the Kingdom. For the next seven years, Tom and Sheri would explore things of the Spirit, finding healing and gifting. In 2005, with much love and support, the Helena congregation blessed the Wilsons to plant a Vineyard Church in Deer Lodge, Montana.

The Wilsons went through an assessment process with the Association of Vineyard Churches, and were assigned church planting coach Paul Arends of Riverside Vineyard Church in Kalispell. Tom and Sheri then launched their two year plan to establish a fellowship of empowered evangelicals. They recruited future son-in-law, Daniel Mavrinac, to lead worship. Daughter Becky joined the team, and the Deer Lodge Vineyard Christian Fellowship (DLVCF) doubled to four! Nelson and Amanda Bohrer heard God’s call to pour themselves into the new church plant, and the team grew to six. Along with their young family, the Bohrers rolled up their sleeves and went to work realizing the vision.

A home group started, and the Wilsons traveled to several Vineyards around the Northwest to garner support. People were invited to pray, pay, or play. Dozens responded with intercessory prayer, financial support, and a commitment to help conduct a series of worship events in Deer Lodge. Ministry teams traveled to Deer Lodge from sister Vineyards in Kalispell, Missoula, Belgrade, and Helena. The Great Falls, Kalispell, and Dillon Vineyards began to support the new work with regular financial gifts. The home group responded to the outpouring of love with steady growth. People began to clamor for a Sunday meeting. The Core Team responded to the group by leasing local meeting space at “The Pen” in downtown Deer Lodge. Sunday services started on January 8, 2006. In late 2007 the group outgrew the facility’s small children's ministry room. A search for more space ensued. In May of 2008, the Deer Lodge Vineyard purchased a 5600 square foot building at 709 Mill Street in Deer Lodge.

DLVCF’s human network continues to grow numerically, relationally, and spiritually. The group is discovering God’s custom strategy to occupy the Deer Lodge Valley. With deep appreciation for the heritage of the Vineyard Movement, and keen expectation for today, the team continues to say the words and do the works of Jesus.

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