Steve Dunmire was a young pastor and father of three children under age three when the first Gathering was held in 2007. Financial restraints would have prevented him and his wife, Tammy, from attending, but their church and district came together to provide the resources for them to go.
“I didn’t realize how much we needed to get away until we did,” said Dunmire. “It was a much-needed time away for us as a young couple in ministry, and our church began an incredible turn around after we got back from The Gathering. Looking back 11 years later, I point to The Gathering as a turning point personally and professionally.”
The church that Dunmire was pastoring at the time had gone through a difficult season. Upon returning from The Gathering, Dunmire specifically remembers the sermon he preached. The sermon was not based on the content from the event, but he had been so inspired and rejuvenated at the conference that he had begun writing before he left.
Dunmire will never forget the congregation’s response to that sermon. The church leaders sensed something new was happening — and this freshness catalyzed a season of renewal.
“The year and a half before going to The Gathering and the year and a half after going to The Gathering were night and day. Our church grew by 40 percent. My creativity and passion in ministry grew. I returned with a real energy for making disciples,” said Dunmire. “The Lord used The Gathering to prepare my heart for doors that were about to open that I could have never anticipated had it not been for that time away.”
Dunmire serves now as the director of the office of Ministry Resources at Houghton College and assistant district superintendent of the Western New York District. As a district leader, he loves to encourage churches to be generous and do what it takes to get pastors to attend The Gathering. The impact of The Gathering on his own life has inspired him to say it is well worth the investment.
Dunmire knows choosing to budget funds for an event like The Gathering can be difficult given the financial demands of ministry. He sees The Gathering, however, as a rare opportunity for pastors to sit in instead of stand before the congregation. The value of time away to reflect and be restored, especially at an event specifically tailored for Wesleyan pastors, is an investment to be paid back many times over.
The Gathering will be held in Orlando, Florida, January 9-12, 2019. For more information on how to register, visit Wesleyan.org/gathering.