Whilst working at the Anaheim Vineyard in 1999, Craig felt Jesus talking to him about returning to the UK and church planting in Norwich.
Craig returned to visit his parents that year and as he got off the plane, he heard Jesus speak to him saying, “You’re home.” On returning to California he was stopped at the airport by officials and his visa was prematurely cancelled, confirming that God wanted him back in the UK. On returning to the UK, he met Hannah who had been in the UK pursuing her call to church planting. They married in 2004 and after a number of specific confirmations and the approval of Vineyard UK they began to make plans to church plant.
The church started in October 2005 and our first event involved Mexican food, live music and an invitation to come and hear why we were starting a church. The name ‘Gateway Vineyard’ was inspired by our desire for the church to be a place where anyone could come and meet with God. Nine of us met together in a home as we ate breakfast and prayed together, ran Alpha courses, threw lots of parties and did random acts of kindness in Norwich.
In January 2007 we started to meet on Sunday mornings. The church continued to grow, new small groups were started, and an outward focus continued to be at the heart of the church. As we grew, we started meeting in a venue on Nelson Street in October 2009, which served us well for five years. As we continued to grow, we realised the need to move again, so in May 2015 we moved into Norwich High School for Girls on Newmarket Road as well as having offices and gathering spaces elsewhere in the city. In May 2017 we started to explore multi-sites as we recognised God was drawing people to us from across Norfolk and Suffolk. A model of church which would enable us to reach more places and people whilst being one church. We have a growing presence in Beccles, Suffolk, and in September 2022 will launch Gateway Vineyard at the Chapel, another site in Norwich. We are looking forward to where God will lead us in the months ahead.
We long to see people encounter Jesus and mobilised to reach out to others in love and compassion. We hope you enjoy reading more about how the church is walking this out on our website and we look forward to meeting you – in person or online. You are very welcome to Gateway Vineyard.
Craig & Hannah Deal