Founder & Lead Pastor
Gene Wolfenbarger is the Founder and Lead Pastor of The Gathering. He spent his youth roaming the hills and hollers of the Great Smoky Mountains before leaving Tennessee to attend Criswell Bible College in Dallas, TX. After receiving his B.A. in Biblical Studies in 1990, Gene was on the road for a decade as a highly successful itinerant evangelist. Thousands of adults and young people from coast to coast came to a saving knowledge of Christ under his anointed preaching. On November 18, 1999, while conducting a meeting in Kansas City, God interrupted Gene’s evangelistic career with a startling new assignment. He was to return to his boyhood home in east Tennessee and start a new church which God named “The Gathering.” This calling was directly confirmed by the Holy Spirit through His Word in Ezekiel 28:25…
“…For I will GATHER them from the distant lands where I have scattered them. I will reveal to the nations of the world my holiness among my people.”
The new millennium witnessed the birth of a new ministry when Gene, his wife Karen, and one other family launched The Gathering in 2000 in the county seat town of Sevierville, Tennessee. Those humble beginnings are now the backstory to a thriving congregation, worshiping and serving in the heart of a bustling tourist mecca. Excitement and expectation for what God has in store for The Gathering’s next ten years has never been higher!
Gene and Karen joyfully reside in Sevier County with their two sons, Corey and Seth.
Pastor of Spiritual Life Development
David is the Pastor of Spiritual Life Development at The Gathering. He is in the ministry with his wife, Missie, and their two children, Zech and Addy. David oversees the First Impressions ministry at our church and walks closely with the parking, usher, and security teams. He has a calling on his life to see others come to know Jesus Christ as their personal savior and has a strong love for the word of God. The Lord called him into the ministry in 2008 after serving for more than fourteen years in law enforcement at both the Knoxville and Pigeon Forge Police Departments. David is a 1993 graduate of East Tennessee State University with a Bachelor Degree in Criminal Justice. He follows University of Tennessee and Dallas Cowboys football. You can follow him on Twitter @ZlovestheWord.
Pastor of Family Ministry
Don joined our team in early 2014 and currently serves as the Pastor of Family Ministry. After graduating from a small high school in the Dayton, Ohio area he ventured to Mount Vernon Nazarene University to pursue and obtain a BA in Christian Education with a concentration in Youth Ministry. Don served as Youth Pastor and Family Pastor in three Ohio churches. Don was compelled to come to east Tennessee where he enrolled in Johnson University in 2008. While attending Johnson University, he and his wife, Toni, along with their three children, fell in crazy love with The Gathering. After graduating in 2010 with a Masters Degree in Marriage/Family Counseling they returned to their home state with torn hearts, for deep inside they felt God’s still small voice saying: “East Tennessee is your promised land.”
Both Don and Toni are strong relators of people with a desire to walk with families to raise up generations of radical Jesus followers. For someone once said: “as the family goes, so goes our nation.” Currently, Don’s priority is to equip, empower, and unleash teenagers who will transform present and future realities through the love (Galations 5:22-23; fruit of the spirit) and power (1 Corinthians 12; gifts of the spirit) of God by partnering with their families.
Pastor of Missions
David was raised in West Virginia and relocated to Tennessee in 1998. Growing up in the Appalachian area allowed him to see first hand the pain and suffering of those who are less fortunate. Being raised by parents that taught him to put the needs of others first helped to prepare David for his calling to serve the poor. Through THE LORD’S CHILD, the mission arm of The Gathering, David leads mission teams that seek to meet the spiritual and physical needs of less fortunate people from Appalachia to Africa. After serving as a volunteer since 2002 he answered the call to full-time Christian service in 2007. David and his wife Diane live in Sevierville where they are raising their granddaughter, Emma.
Media Arts Director
Jeff relocated to Sevierville from Knoxville in early 2004. After visiting area churches trying to find his new church home, he visited The Gathering on a sunny Sunday morning and heard Pastor Gene teach for the first time. He left church that morning knowing that he had found what he was looking for! Pastor Gene married Jeff and his wife, Marilyn, in 2006. In early 2011, seven years after visiting The Gathering for the first time, Jeff answered the Lord’s call; he closed his insurance business and entered full-time ministry. Today, Jeff serves as the Media Arts Director at The Gathering.
Assistant to the Lead Pastor
Nola came to The Gathering with over 20 years of ministry experience. She joined the staff in January of 2004 as the assistant to Lead Pastor Gene Wolfenbarger. “It is such an honor to serve as Personal Assistant to Pastor Gene. I tell everyone that I have a front row seat when it comes to seeing God move at The Gathering and in our Senior Pastor. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything! As a wife, mother and grandmother, my life is filled with many amazing moments. Working on staff at The Gathering is just another added ‘PERK’ that God has granted in my life.” Nola’s passion is worship and her hobbies are gardening and quilting. Her favorite movies are musicals (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) and her favorite scripture is found in Jeremiah 12:5…
“If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan?”
Director of Family Ministries
Karen Wolfenbarger is the wife of lead pastor, Gene Wolfenbarger. She leads the Family Ministries and Refine Women’s Ministry at The Gathering. Karen has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Dallas Baptist University. Her inspiration is found in children as they discover who Jesus is and learn how to put that knowledge into action through faith. She enjoys reading, eating Mexican food, and spending time with her two sons. Gene and Karen have been married for 26 years.
Born and raised in East Tennessee, Angel graduated from Seymour High School in 1990. Angel married her husband, John, in 1997, and today they have three wonderful children, Gabrielle, Creed, and Eli. A part of The Gathering family since 2001, Angel accepted the position of Nursery Director in 2003. In 2007, after the birth of Eli, the Lord burdened Angel to launch a “Mommy Group” for mothers with newborns which has since evolved into M.O.M.S. Cafe’ (Mothers Of Many Seasons). Angel went on to accept the position of Volunteer Director in 2014. “I am looking forward to all that God has in store, not only for my immediate family, but also The Gathering Family!”
Diane relocated to Tennessee from West Virginia in 1998 and started attending The Gathering in 2002. After volunteering to serve in the Finance Department, the Lord called her to join the staff as the financial secretary in 2004. Diane has an Associate Arts degree from Mountain State University in West Virginia. Diane and her husband, David, have 3 children and love spending time with their 2 grandchildren, Emma and Addison.