Billy Graham’s Crusade to welcome the new millennia served as the genesis
Inspired by witnessing the racial, cultural and denominational walls changing as the new millennia began, spiritual leaders of our city prayed to make the unity of Christ (John 17:21) visible in our city and five county area. The Operation Andrew Group (OAG) was founded to create connections among people, while removing barriers within our faith communities.
In the early years, The Gathering was a city-wide worship service for all churches to come together on one Sunday evening a year, held at the Gaylord (now Bridgestone) Arena. Local congregations suspended their Sunday evening activities. Thousands of believers gathered to hear a message from Nashville's Bishop Michael Graves. In following years, Ravi Zacharias and Tony Evans were special guest speakers.
Prayer was emphasized. Monthly prayer meetings for board members and volunteer leaders were initiated. Annual Prayer Summits for ministry leaders focusing on city-wide revival were begun. Public prayer was also encouraged through a downtown observance of the National Day of Prayer, co-hosted with the YMCA of Middle Tennessee.
Three Presidents contribute strategies to serve Nashville’s churches:
Dr. Charles McGowan, Senior Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church, became OAG’s first president. Under McGowan's leadership The Gathering concept spread, encouraging collaboration between congregations across the city. Pastors and ministry leaders were encouraged to connect for trainings, fellowship, joint praise and worship services, and for the Annual Honor Banquet for ministers and spouses.
Mike Arrington, Vice President of LifeWay, served as the second President of OAG. Arrington developed the Christian business sector to help launch United4Hope, a major OAG initiative created to meet the needs of Nashville’s growing population. Providing Metro Nashville Public Schools with strategic volunteers and increasing resources could greatly impact the future. This began a rapid increase of collaborative partnerships.
Rhonda Lowry, Senior Fellow at Lipscomb University, is currently President of OAG. Lowry has established the Oak Project as a multi-generation mentoring program for Nashville professionals. Recently, she began LINC (Leaders in Nashville Connecting) specifically for ministers and pastors to experience a leadership level look behind-the-scenes of our city.
President Lowry defines the strategy as…
SERVING CHURCHES SO THAT TOGETHER THEY CAN SERVE OUR CITY.