Immersed in a community of progression is what the Gathering Place offered me.
“The Gathering Place is a community-based student leadership development organization that has served the youth of the southeast since 1981. Annually, The Gathering Place reaches thousands of Middle School, High School and College age students through a variety of programs such as mentor groups, large outreach events and internships. The ministry of The Gathering Place works towards unity within diversity and unites churches, para-church ministries, schools and other community groups around one cause: to raise up strong Christian leaders who will have an impact on their communities and the world” (thegp.org).
Since middle school, I was involved in that community based organization. Embodying, the three moral conditions that communities need: faith, hope, and love, I was able to relate to the ideals that Gustafson presented. In a community so diverse, we were able to “[rejoice] in the existence of others” (Gustafson 61). I didn’t have to read about those functional requisites because daily I was living amongst those who possessed such great qualities.
Growing up as a young African American female in a predominantly white College Preparatory, I always stuck out as a sore thumb. In our town, two different cities separated by bridge, people would create stereotypes for those who lived on either side of the bridge. Although I didn’t live in the area where I attended school, I was still labeled as “too good” or “that black girl who wants to be white” because of the economic status of the area and preconceived notions of those who inhabited the area. In a spot where I was stuck between two cities, The Gathering Place became a safe haven, in the midst of it all. I was able to realize that “the future is open, that it is not a threat but a promise”, and any racial slurs or stereotypes weren’t going to detour me from reaching my fullest potential (59). Without the reassurance of faith, hope, and love, my life would’ve been in a downwards spiral. The featured image of this blog represents the change that I experienced entering the Gathering Place. Upon coming out, I’ve never been the same. That’s what a wonderful community can do to you, making it essential for the lives of many.