The Gathering, a religious community based out of McLean Bible Church in Tyson’s Corner, Va., will begin weekly services at AU on Jan. 23, making the University the first in the D.C. area to host the Gathering.
The group’s vision is to impact secular Washington with the message of Jesus Christ, according to John McGowan, pastor of the Gathering. The Gathering works toward specifically reaching that goal with college students.
“Our services are designed with the college-aged student in mind,” said McGowan, a Georgetown University alumnus. “Our goal is to impact this generation.”
AU students became involved with the Gathering last year when James Misner, a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs, along with two other students, contacted McGowan in order to organize a way for AU students to be transported to services at the McLean Church in Virginia.
Misner chose to become involved with the group because he “views his role as a follower of Christ to impact the people he is around with Christ’s message.”
Misner is part of a leadership team that has allowed the Gathering to come to AU. Its first service will be Jan. 23 in Ward 1 at 11 a.m.
According to Misner, there are seven different leadership teams that meet once a month on campus to make the Gathering’s vision a reality.
“There are also small groups that meet for Bible studies on campus, as well as groups that get together just to pray,” Misner said. “Basically, members of the Gathering are meeting every day at some point here at AU.”
In addition to church services and organized prayer, students have the chance to participate in service opportunities as well.
“We started a ministry out of the Gathering called Daybreak,” McGowan said.
Daybreak is an after-school program for middle school students in the Lincoln Heights housing project of Southeast D.C. The Gathering brings college students to Lincoln Heights two Saturdays per month to participate in activities, such as carnivals for the middle school students, McGowan said.
He encourages students interested in becoming involved with the Gathering to attend a “connect meeting” immediately following the Jan. 23 services.
“What’s nice about the Gathering is that many times, a church just sits back and says, ‘Come to us.’ But instead, we are going to where the people are,” McGowan said.
The group’s core values are to encounter God, enter community, explore truth and express faith, according to the group’s Web site, http://www.gatheringonline.org.