For those who have worked at The Gathering Place, they know they are not signing on for a job, rather they are answering a calling.
It’s something Jimmy Gunderman understood when he was hired as the director of discipleship and programs for the Christian nonprofit more than a year ago.
For Gunderman, it was the fulfillment of a lifetime longing to serve God. As he matured, he took on a variety of roles that allowed him to do just that.
In addition to a career in marketing, Gunderman picked up positions in student ministries. Later, he sold his business and served as a full-time missionary, along with his family, in India.
“I grew up in a home where we attended church on occasion. Throughout my childhood, I had friends that always invited me to youth events, much like the programs the GP offers, where I was taught and embraced deep truths about a triune God and how we are to relate to Him,” Gunderman said.
“I began to attend church on a regular basis and later became a student pastor, passionate about helping others treasure and make much of God.”
Through his work with The Gathering Place, which offers 707 Clubs and other campus outreach, he has been able to see tangible results.
Those have been noticed by others, too. Lucas Ramirez, executive director of the organization for eight years, was certainly impressed by his commitment.
“We don’t view the work we do as a ‘have to’ but rather a ‘get to.’ Jimmy brings this deep and genuine passion to our team to see the rising generation of students impacted as we ‘reach, equip and send students’ with the Gospel,” Ramirez said.
Through the dedication of its employees and volunteers, The Gathering Place itself has expanded, allowing more and more students to receive its message.
The Brunswick-based organization, which has operated locally for nearly 40 years, recently began to reach outside of the boundaries of Glynn County.
It started four years ago when Ramirez and his team met with Gov. Nathan Deal and other members of the state’s leadership. Those interactions sparked a design strategy to share The Gathering Place’s model with other communities. This summer, the group celebrated the launch of The Gathering Place in Thomasville, the organization’s first expansion site.
But that growth prompted changes on the local level. Ramirez was tapped by the nonprofit’s board to become its first president and CEO. Gunderman was selected to fill his shoes as executive director in Brunswick.
For his part, Ramirez is looking forward to the future, confident that he is leaving that position in very competent hands.
“The executive director position at The Gathering Place is a unique role. In the position, a leader must have both strong organizational ability matched with ministry skills,” Ramirez said.
“That is a unique combination of gifting that requires a balance of business and program work. Jimmy Gunderman carries all of those elements so well not only from his work experience, but also his God inspired calling, gifting and passion to reach students.”
Gunderman is enthusiastic, looking forward to the challenge.
“My position as the executive director is to oversee and provide leadership for all aspects of organizational development efforts and program implementation for the Glynn County GP office,” he said.
“I’m excited about continuing to work with students and see them grow as leaders as they grow in their faith. Seeing students take what they learn from the GP and connect with their peers is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.”
Ramirez is also shifting into his new position. In this capacity, he will continue to work with Gunderman and other leaders to steer the collective organization.
“In my new role, one of the main elements of my job will be to provide leadership to our area executive directors,” Ramirez said.
“As I support and lead them, I will keep the organization laser focused on our mission, help with fundraising efforts, grow our influence and continue working towards further expansion of The GP.”
Both men and looking forward to the future. They are excited to continue The Gathering Place’s tradition of service while expanding offerings and sharing the Gospel.
“The GP has been serving the Golden Isles community since 1981 and has such a rich tradition of positively impacting lives. However, there is still work to be done. One of our core values is innovation. We realize that although students have changed since the GP’s inception, their need for lasting faith and a strong community has not. We want to be a place that provides environments for both faith and community to thrive,” Gunderman said.
“To that aim, we have positioned ourselves, through our programs and relationships, to equip students to become leaders that serve for the benefit of others. We are blessed in Glynn County to have many churches and organizations that make it a priority to work together to enrich families and transform lives.”