Throughout the scriptures, the “mountain” is symbolic of a sacred space, one where God invites His people to be with him. In this “thin space”, away from the business and noise of the world, God gives perspective and purpose. The mountain is a place of rest, a place to receive vision, and a place to be sent out. We imagine East Mountain Communities to serve as similar spaces in the world today, spaces where Christ-followers can come to rest, connect with God and others, and be sent out to pursue the work of the Kingdom.
The “East” in our name honors the reality that the vast majority of Christians live in the non-Western world, and the fact that our faith has roots that began in non-Western culture. We desire to look beyond our own context for biblical examples of robust Christian life, community, and ministry.
The founders 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. The desire for the community was to raise up leaders in a way that reflects the realities of a changing global church.
Gabriel Smith, Co-Founder and Organization Leader
As a captain in the US Army and a graduate of West Point, Gabe committed much of his early life to the training and equipping of military officers to serve as combat leaders. In settings like the US Army Ranger School, he came to the realization that the best training occurs when skills are taught and applied in real life scenarios, with teachers available to observe and counsel throughout the process.
Following a remarkable and distinguished military career, Gabe received his Masters of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. From there, he followed the call of the Lord on his life to get involved in international missions. He served both the roles of Missions Pastor with Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, NC; and Missions Mobilization Director with United World Mission. During this time, he came to understand the nature of the ever-changing global church.
Rodney Duttweiler, Co-Founder and Cape Town Community Leader.
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.