About River Church

Our History

As our name implies, we are the result of many tributaries and showers of blessings from God! It began in 1942 as Hillcrest Baptist. Lamar and Cherry Junkins came to the church in 1978 as Lamar was attending Southeastern Bible College, graduating in 1980. In 1984 Lamar met John Wimber at a James Robinson Bible Conference in Ft.Worth, Texas. Wimber`s relaxed, yet powerful style of ministering connected with Lamar`s heart felt desire to lead with more power and depth. Hillcrest became Vineyard Christian Fellowship Birmingham in 1985. Fruitful years of effective ministry followed as our church hosted many large conferences for internationally known speakers who were on the leading edge in prophecy, healing and deliverance ministries. We planted other churches in the Birmingham area and all across Alabama.

John Wimber passed away in 1997 and left many sons and daughters searching for another person with apostolic anointing. In 2006, after several confirmations through dreams and prophecies, we joined the Global Legacy group of churches associated with Bethel Church in Redding, CA., Bill Johnson, pastor. (www.ibethel.org). Bill has a powerful teaching ministry with a focus on Kingdom building rather than birthing another denomination. The Global Legacy group of independent churches has the same values, methods, models and message that drew us to John Wimber in the early days of the Vineyard. The church lost another founding father in December of 2010 when Lamar passed away after a prolonged illness. Cherry continued leading, as our church elders requested, until she was married to Melvin Airhart in April, 2012. Melvin had attended Southeastern with Lamar in the 70`s and had reunited providentially at that conference in Texas in 1984. Later that year Lamar made plans to start a Bible institute with Melvin as a faculty member. After this was considered, Melvin felt led to remain in Colorado and plant a church which was to become a "Friend of the Vineyard".

Over twenty-five years later, after extensive pastoral and foreign mission experience and continued studies at Denver Seminary and Loyola University, New Orleans, Melvin became pastor of River Church Birmingham. Through the founding of Birmingham School of Ministry in 2012 the vision of a school in our church was fulfilled; an important step in training Kingdom workers. We believe missions to be a vital part of any healthy local church; we need them as baldly as they need us. Melvin continues to serve as founder/president of the mission organization Principio, presently focusing on parts of rural Honduras.