All Christians are called to care for and to watch over one another. Yet the Scripture also teaches that in each local church elders, also called pastors or overseers, should be appointed to serve and shepherd the church (Acts 20:28; Titus 1:5; 1 Peter 5:1-5). Elders are responsible to serve by actively leading, praying for the church, feeding the church from God’s Word, and by overseeing areas such as worship, teaching, and finances. First and foremost elders are to lead by example. Some of our elders are employed by The Gathering Church to serve as full-time pastors, however other elders serve in other lines of work throughout the Portland area. Every elder is carefully selected, recognized and appointed by the congregation and meets the qualifications given in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. The elders at The Gathering joyfully and seriously take the responsibility to shepherd and love the church. In polity, The Gathering Church is elder-led and congregationally ruled. This means that the elders lead the congregation in providing vision, strategy, and leadership, but the final rule is from the members of the congregation.
A Southern California Native, Matthew Cunningham was raised in Big Bear Lake, California for the first 18 years of his life.
Matthew holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology and Greek from Multnomah University, and Master of Divinity (M.Div.) Degree from Multnomah Biblical Seminary. He currently serves as lead pastor here at The Gathering Church.
Matthew and his wife, Vanessa, are high school sweethearts. He considers her to be his saving grace, and the most faithful, steadfast, committed person he has ever met. Matthew and Vanessa were married in the summer of 2004, in Pacific Grove, California. They are blessed with six children, who are the joys of their lives: Annelissa, Alatheia, Benjamin, Nathan, Noelle, and Lilly. As a family, the Cunninghams enjoy camping, road-tripping, eating out, and dancing in the living room. Some of Matthew’s passions include: helping men grow in maturity and responsibility as husbands and fathers, seeing families strengthened, and seeing lost people meet Jesus. A couple of books which have been impacting in Matthew’s life have been Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards, and How then shall we live? by Francis Shaeffer. Matthew delights to be a member of the body of Christ at The Gathering Church. He loves teaching the Bible, serving with the elders, and seeing the gospel impact someone’s heart so that they continue to grow in grace.
Chris was born in Portland, Oregon in 1956. Raised in a Catholic family, at seventeen he came under conviction of his own sin when a street preacher shared the gospel with him in downtown Portland. But Chris’ life did not change until the summer of his junior year in high school. During a hitchhiking trip around the country, in Daytona Beach Florida, and high on LSD, Chris was confronted by a demonized man to accept that he belonged to the devil and to give his life to Satan. Chris, for the first time, stood up and confessed that he “belonged to Jesus”. Jesus Christ accepted that statement of faith and the next morning Chris woke up to a new life, was transformed and has followed Christ ever since. Not a recommended way to get saved, but it worked.
In 1975, shortly after graduating from high school he joined a discipleship and communal movement called Gospel Outreach – these were common at the time – and joined a team to plant a church in Chicago, Illinois. Subsequently, he was involved in church planting for almost two decades (planting churches in Chicago, IL, Eugene, OR, and Vancouver, WA).
Chris and Donna married in the fall of 1980. God has blessed them with eight wonderful children, and thirteen wonderful grandchildren.
Bio coming soon.
James was born in Arizona but lived most of his life in Oregon, except for 7 years while serving in the US Air Force. He has an Associates degree in Electronics. James is married to Vivian for over 50 years. They have two sons, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
James was raised in a Christian family and attended church and Sunday School regularly. He was saved when he was about 10. He and Vivian have been faithful in church work and attendance, and have been on several mission trips: Honduras twice, Kenya, India, Nepal and Mississippi. James has served as deacon and elder in each church they have been a member of.
James points to three significant spiritual events in his life: The first was when he was selected to be a leader in the church. At first he thought he was too young but then realized he needed to submit to the church leadership and respect what they saw in him. A leader must be one who serves. The second was when he learned what it was to have Christ as Lord of his life and how to live daily that way (1 John 1:9). The third was when he learned the value and importance of the shed blood of Christ. He now truly worships when coming to the communion table.