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STAFFORD, TX—On Wednesday, September 12, 2012, the Vineyard Movement in the United States installed its fifth National Director. Phil Strout, pastor of the Pathway Vineyard community in Lewiston, Maine, embraced his new role alongside his wife, Jan, before a packed house in their large church in New England.

Most Christians today know the Vineyard Movement for its powerful worship music that continues to energize the contemporary Church in a postmodern world. They also know the Vineyard through the profound legacy left by its founder, John Wimber. Wimber, a former rock and roll producer who rose to prominence in the Jesus movement, renewed the vital connections between biblically rich Evangelical faith, vibrant cultural impact, and a non-hyped embrace of the Holy Spirit – evidenced in healing, signs, wonders, and church growth.

"The Vineyard belongs to the Lord," said Bert Waggoner, National Director of the movement for the past 12 years. "When you accept leadership of the Vineyard, the Vineyard 'gets' you." Turning to Phil and Jan, Bert then said "...And you're here to serve, to help us all become the movement that God intended us to be." Along with other leaders, Bert charged the Strouts to continue to lead from a position of servanthood, and a posture that champions the Vineyard legacy.

After thanking his wife, children, and spiritual mentors, Phil shared his intended approach to national leadership with those attending. Referencing Matthew 22:37-40 and the moment Jesus is asked to define what is truly important in life, Phil reminded the group of Jesus' essential answer: "Love God and love people." The new National Director then delivered that same message right into the hearts of the Vineyard USA leadership. "Loving God, and being loved by God? This is an awesome experience. This is magnificent. But the second part of the call is to love people. This is messy. This pushes back. This tests what the love of God is really all about."

Strout went on to preach with passion and intensity. "Let the Vineyard be known as a place where Love rules, Love reigns, Love flows – unconditional love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Let us be known as a movement that knows how to love, without hypocrisy. Do we want, like many today, a reputation of being an avant-garde group, a cutting edge group, having the latest and the greatest in everything we do? Do you know what we really need to be known for? Let us be known for the way we love people. Let us be known for the way we love God. Let it be said of us that we love the poor. We love people who are not like us. We love people that speak other languages and come from other cultures. We love people that have been formed by different ideologies than us, and have grown up in a different way than us. Let it be said that we love them, and we love them unconditionally." Over the top of thunderous applause, Phil declared "This is the spirit in which I want to lead this movement."

Along with the new Executive Team of Vineyard USA, founding leaders such as Bob and Penny Fulton (US) were on hand to offer both encouragement and a blessing, as well as international Vineyard leaders John and Eleanor Mumford (UK), Gary and Joy Best (Canada), and others.

Phil and Jan Strout will provide leadership to Vineyard USA from their current base in Lewiston, Maine, and will work with a national network of team members to engage the Vineyard community – its pastors, churches, and people – in their next contribution to the mission of the 21st century Church.