The founders and leaders of East Mountain are Gabriel Smith and Rodney Duttweiler. Their vision for East Mountain was born out of a desire to equip the global church in a community-centric setting. They believe that the training and equipping of leaders must be relational, intercultural, and based on the goal of forming the whole person for the leadership task. Their desire was for the EM Community to raise up leaders in a way that reflects the realities of a changing global church, one that is shifting away from the West.
The East Mountain model of holistic training in a community setting is built on analysis of these needs. Along with the way our founders received informed guidance from many pastors, scholars, and church leaders. The result is a unique ministry formed through this wise cousel, the vision of a new kind of Christian community, and by the particular experiences of our founders' life experience on the Mission Field in Africa, in the Seminary, and in the Military.
As a missionary in West Africa, Rodney co-launched a training center where Senegalese pastors live with and teach a small group of younger pastors in an intensive 90-day leadership program. Through this intiative, he saw the value of life-on-life discipleship coupled with rigorous theological study. The impact this kind of training had on West African pastors inspired him to carry elements of this model to the East Mountain community. Today the Discipleship Training Initiative in Dakar continues to make an impact in the Senegalese Church. Rodney's experience as Area Director of West African Missions with United World Mission has given him further experience to share with the EM community.
As a Captain in the United States Army, Gabe trained officers to serve as combat leaders through extended, rigorous training. In settings like the US Army Ranger School, Gabe learned that the best training occurs when skills are taught and then applied in real life settings, with teachers available to observe and counsel students through the application of skills and values under stress. After earning a Masters of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and serving as both a missions pastor and a missions mobilization director, Gabe felt the call on his life to begin East Mountain. He packed up his life in Charlotte, NC and moved with his family to launch the first East Mountain community in South Africa in 2012. In 2017 the Smiths moved to Greenville, South Carolina to start the East Mountain Society - a new organization to provide oversight and resources to the East Mountain movement of communties. Gabe is also an ordained Anglican priest with orders from the Diocese of Madi-West Nile Uganda.
Gabe and Rod serve in leadership to all East Mountain communities. Each community has local leadership in place to guide the day-to-day life of the community; Rodney lives in South Africa where he helps provide leadership to the local community and to the Society at large. Gabe lives in South Carolina where he is actively founding a new community and also provides leadership to the Society. You can read more about each of our communities on our locations page.