Anyone new to Foursquare who wonders if there really is room for him or her without some kind of history in the movement needs to look no further than Gary and Tammy Dunahoo for an answer.
Though now widely respected as senior leaders—with Tammy making history as the first woman to be appointed the denomination’s general supervisor—they are “first-generation” Foursquare.
They have found space for their callings and giftings by both closing in on the things that are most important to them while fulfilling responsibilities within the Foursquare movement.
The Dunahoos grew up in a classical Pentecostal denomination, serving as associate pastors, district youth directors and senior pastors, and were very involved in the organization. They decided to make a transition after struggling for some time over important ministry values and doctrinal differences.
Most of the people outside the denomination with whom they sensed a deep connection and whose ministries they were being shaped by were Foursquare leaders. Among these were Jack Hayford, Ted Roberts, Ron Mehl, Daniel Brown, Jerry Cook and Jim Hayford. And so a process of discussion and discovery began that led to the Dunahoos’ leaving their denomination and lifelong relationships, to join Foursquare.
Their first assignment as newly licensed Foursquare ministers in 1996 was to a church that had only three remaining members. After being in full-time ministry for 14 years, the Dunahoos took jobs within the community to support the “restart.” Having seen the church re-established, they moved to Arkansas, where they planted and sponsored four churches during the next 14 years.
Gary developed a reputation as a turnaround pastor and church planter, while Tammy began serving as a district supervisor and national leader. She then became interim general supervisor for the national church, a move that led to their return to Southern California. She was confirmed as general supervisor in 2010, and Gary now serves as lead pastor of Lighthouse Church (Newbury Park Foursquare Church) in Newbury Park.
Moving from the edge of Foursquare to its heart has been a journey of intentionality. Once they had decided that Foursquare was a fit for them, they jumped in with both feet. “We had a mindset that when you enter, you do so as a servant, at the back of the room,” Tammy says.
They also attended everything they could: retreats, district conferences and events, divisional meetings and the annual convention. “We have always had the mentality to be involved wherever we have been,” notes Gary.
From their experience, Tammy offers the following advice: “If people come in and sit back and wait to be invited, they are probably going to be disappointed. Like any organization, people have their networks and friendships established and may not always notice new people. You can’t sit back and wait for somebody to seek you out. You have to get engaged.”
While the relationships they enjoy in Foursquare are very important to them, this is not what cements them in the movement. They had sacrificed relationships in their former church stream to follow what God had laid on their hearts—an initially “painful” separation from people they loved. But true relationships remained intact, and they have established wonderful relationships within Foursquare.
What anchors them in Foursquare is their belief system, values and mission, which are aligned with what Gary describes as Foursquare’s “grace-filled Pentecostalism” and a commitment to interdenominational and worldwide evangelism.
“Mission, values and beliefs are most important to us,” Tammy explains. “Relationships have been an overflow of being in the family, but they are not why we joined.” With that in mind, she encourages newcomers to Foursquare to “be really clear about why you have become Foursquare, and then get involved and contribute. Relationships are a natural result of serving together.”
Tammy and other national leaders see continuing to make room for new arrivals as an important area for Foursquare as a movement. “We must clearly articulate and live out who we are so people know if they want to belong and partner together in the mission we have been given,” Tammy asserts.
While denominations have been in decline, Tammy says that “churches are networking together whether through informal or formal association, network or denomination—for the sense of accountability, connectedness, covering and partnership in mission.