“There has to be more to life than partying! There has to be some kind of meaning to life,” I told my college buddies. Thus began a spiritual search–accompanied by lots of big questions–that brought me to a spiritual awakening and a longing to personally know the God of the Bible. For me, a vital spiritual connection with Jesus just made sense. Historically and psychologically the pieces fit together!
As I perceive God’s love for me, the dark and empty places of my life slowly fill and I begin to change. We’ve come to experience change as an “inside job.” My deepest desires are being satisfied and I lose my appetite for unhealthy things. Love inspires recovery, health and a life of service. Well loved people love well! And well loved people reach out to others in love.
It is such an honor to have started this unique church (a sincere group of very real people) in 2002. My wife and I have a passion to build a community that is warm and relaxed, encourages deep change, lasting friendships and seeks, above all else, God’s affirming presence. We are getting well together.
Yours, Wes and Vicki Fleming
Wes Fleming’s Ministry Experience and Training:
- Pastor of The Eastside Vineyard Church, Syracuse (Started in January 2002)
- Professional Hospital Chaplain at Syracuse VA, Crouse Irving Memorial Hospital, University Hospital
- Spirituality-Recovery groups Crouse Chemical Dependency Treatment Services, 410 S. Crouse
- Author of Raising Children On Purpose © 2003 (Buy on Amazon) and Helping Kids Find Their Way © 1997
- Author of The Seven Destiny Maker’s–Seven Things Kids Need To Succeed © 2002
- BA Philosophy and English Lit. St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY
- MA in Theological Studies, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Springfield, MO.
- Doctorate in Spiritual Formation, George Fox University, Portland, Oregon. Dissertation project: “The Warrior Journey: A Hope Intervention for Veteran’s with Combat-related PTSD.”
Pastor: Wes Fleming
Children’s Ministry: Kelly Sharak & Mary Ellen Hunt
Contribution Coordinator: Alan Masters
Sunday Morning Set-Up: Rich Schaffer
Worship and Tech Team: Chip Fleming
College & Youth: Alan Masters
Host Team: Betsy Knowlden
How we get along
Listening is our best practice:
We believe in listening—to each other and to God for wisdom and leadership.
In terms of structure we pattern ourselves after what we believe to be a New Testament model. Men and women* with Christ-like character and special gifts, equipped others for the continued work of Jesus on earth, and were committed to listening to God for strength and direction. (1 Peter 5:1-4; 1Timothy 3:1-7; Eph 4:11-13; Acts 15:28, 1 Cor 11:1) At Eastside Vineyard Church, Wes Fleming serves as our “lead listener.” As our pastor, he surrounds himself with other good listeners and together, known as a leadership team, they seek God’s direction for the daily affairs of our church. This leadership team also provides support and accountability to one another according to principles found in Mt 18:15-17, Eph 4:15, James 5:16.)
*Regarding women in leadership, please read Romans 16 for starters.
Roles of leadership within our church are typically noticed and not achieved. We believe leaders lead. Thus, those who are “already” leading by listening, service and example are “noticed” and then recognized as leaders. Healthy leadership is observed in healthy influence, not in positional authority based on title. This being so, our church recognizes and enjoins communal authority upon those who help us more deeply discern God’s presence and desire.
Our leaders are, first and foremost, good listeners to God and others, but they are also skilled “spiritual language instructors.” Leaders in our church seek to equip all members to listen for God’s voice so that everyone shares in the joy and responsibly of staying in step with the Spirit and moving forward together in His will. (Eph 4: 11-13, Gal 5:25)
Sadly, the reality is no form of church government can guarantee its leaders remain humble servants and ardent followers of Jesus. In strictly board run churches, power hungry trustees can threaten to fire pastors because they do not do their will. Elections can often place popularity and political power over God’s will and the Spirit’s leadership. Likewise, pastor and elder led churches (such as our church) can degenerate into tyrannies should leaders become self-absorbed dictators. The only real guarantee for a healthy church is the heart of the leaders. Those in leadership at Eastside Vineyard Church surround themselves in healthy supportive relationships that encourage transparency, self-awareness and good listening. To encourage the health of our leaders, our church is supported by a caring network of regional and national relationships similar to the care provided by James, Peter and Paul to their church plants. Our pastor meets regularly with Vineyard coaches, local overseers and spiritual directors for routine spiritual “check-ups.” Should our congregation find itself at an impasse in resolving a moral or doctrinal concern, we are encouraged to reach out regional overseers through www.VineyardUSA.org
How are decisions made?
Unlike churches that are governed by election or top down directives from a hierarchical body, our church finds direction through the practice of listening or spiritual discernment. It may at first sound unrealistic but we have discovered that careful listening for God’s direction leads us to make not only the right decisions but into a process of personal and corporate transformation. As we sincerely seek His will above our own in matters of direction, we discover greater love flowing and wisdom flowing into our lives. Let’s be clear, we are not advocating a super-spiritual approach to leadership here. Strategic planning, demographic studies, and surveys definitely play a role in decision making but information by itself does not drive our church.
Who are we? Here are some originals!
“It’s okay to not be okay…”
“We get well together.”
“Loved people love people.”
“Well loved people, love well.”
“To stay out of the ditch, give God the steering wheel of your life.”
“Perfectly imperfect people.”
“God is already here!”
VALUES: R.E.A.L people demonstrating God’s love in R.E.A.L ways
Demonstrating God’s love in relevant ways–meeting real needs in our community.
Creation care: increasing awareness of and service to the needs of our environment.
Genuinely connecting with those in need–those distant from God, wounded, sick, and poor.
Engaging in social justice: love the addict, the poor and homeless.
We love and seek the presence of God–the sense of His being with us.
God is here now. We acknowledge Your presence Holy Spirit. Come in power and healing.
We want God reveal Himself in real ways. We want more than academics.
Breaking through denial, wishful thinking, hype, pretense: God works in naturally supernatural ways.
True spiritual growth takes place in relationships–especially difficult ones.
Rigorous honesty: taking our own inventory first!
L: LOVED BY GOD & LOVING GOD
God loves you just the way you are, right now. Come as you are and be loved.
Everyone gets to play in the Vineyard–not just the “professionals.” We are all ministers! (Eph 4 )
We perform for an audience of One.
The Vineyard Church stands firmly in the center of historic Christian teaching. We affirm the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, which reflect Christian orthodoxy and the clear teaching of the Bible.
We believe that THE BIBLE in its entirely is God’s word. The Old and New Testament Scriptures are divinely inspired, truthful, authoritative, and infallible in matters of faith and practice.
We believe in ONE TRUE AND LIVING GOD, eternally existing in three persons, equal in power and glory: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This triune God created all, upholds all, and governs all.
We believe in THE FATHER, an infinite, personal spirit – perfect in holiness, wisdom, power, goodness, mercy, justice, and love. We believe that he involves himself actively in human affairs, that he hears and answers prayers, and that he saves from sin and death all who come to him through Jesus Christ.
We believe in THE SON, JESUS CHRIST, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born to a virgin. We believe that Jesus is fully God and fully man. He is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of being. He is the perfect model of humanity as God intended it to be. We believe in his miracles, teachings, and sinless life; his substitutionary atoning death; his bodily resurrection; and his ascension into heaven.
We believe that when Jesus first came to earth he inaugurated the fulfillment of the KINGDOM OF GOD. He is living and sovereign Messiah King, advancing God’s reign throughout every generation and throughout the whole earth today.
We believe in THE HOLY SPIRIT, who came forth from the Father and Son to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and to regenerate, sanctify, and empower for ministry all who believe in Christ. We believe that the Holy Spirit is an abiding helper, teacher, and guide, and that he indwells every believer in Jesus Christ. We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit and the exercise of all the biblical gifts of the spirit.
We believe that all PEOPLE are created in the image of God; this secures and establishes their value. Yet all people are also sinners by nature and choice, and are therefore under condemnation. We believe that God forgives, regenerates, and makes righteous those who repent of their sins and place their full faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
We believe that SALVATION is a gift of grace from God, received by faith and yielding new, abundant, and eternal life.
We believe in the CHURCH universal, the living spiritual body of which Christ is the head and all regenerated persons are members. Filled with the Spirit of God, centered on the Son of God, and declaring by word and deed the praises of Father God, the church exists wholly for the glory and pleasure of its loving God.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ committed two ORDINANCES to the church for believers: baptism and communion.
We believe in the personal, visible RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST to earth and the consummation of his Kingdom. We believe in the resurrection of the body and the final judgment of both the living and the dead. We believe in the eternal punishment of the unrighteous, who will be separated forever from the presence of God. And we believe in the eternal blessing of the righteous, who will be united forever with the God who loves them and has redeemed them. At the end of time, God will reign in glory over a new heaven and a new earth, recreated by his might power, where he will be forever worshipped, enjoyed and loved.
Our Vineyard Association Eastside Vineyard Church is a member of The Association of Vineyard Churches of America-an association of churches that is known for being culturally relevant, relaxed in style, and empowered by the Spirit. To find out more about the AVC, its tenets of faith and history please see their website.