AGTS Alumni Perspective: Gwenda Plummer
Name: Rev. Dr. Gwenda Plummer, MA, DMIN, LPC
Graduation Year: 2006 MA, 2015 DMIN
Major: MA Professional Counseling (AGTS), DMIN Pastoral Care & Counseling Cohort (AGTS)
Current Position: Fresh Life Counseling Center, Executive Director & Therapist; Speaker and Teacher
City and State: St. Peters, MO
Tell us about your career and what you do now.
Currently, I serve as the Executive Director of Fresh Life Counseling Center at First Assembly Church in St. Peters, Missouri, providing therapy for relationships, marriages, pre-marital couples, families, grief, anxiety, depression, addictions, recovery from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, and other mental health issues. I also provide EMDR therapy for recovery from PTSD and trauma. Approximately 90% of my clients are from the community and find my services through Psychology Today, Focus on the Family, or their insurance provider portal. Approximately 70% of my clients do not attend church anywhere, and some state that spirituality is not important to them. I also provide counseling and supervise graduate counseling interns at the Bridge House, a faith-based transitional home for women recovering from addictions. I present healthy marriage and relationship seminars and an addiction seminar “Understanding Addictions: Why Don’t They Just Quit?” in churches and community venues. A personal highlight was returning to AGTS in 2016 as an adjunct professor to teach a Doctor of Ministry Class focusing on “Hot Topics in Pastoral Care and Counseling,” for the purpose of equipping participants to minister to current issues in our culture today.
What is your favorite memory from AGTS?
I have many wonderful memories, but my favorites are the time spent in classes taught by Dr. Melody Palm. She is an exceptional teacher, full of wisdom, knowledge, caring, and concern for her students.
How did AGTS help you identify/develop your calling?
I am very thankful for the years spent at AGTS; it is a sacred place to me. For both my MA and DMIN degrees, the outstanding excellence of the professors, the quality of the lectures, texts, and resources, the kindness of the administrators, and the friendships developed with other students helped to refine God’s plan for my life, both in counseling, speaking, and becoming a licensed AG minister.
How did your experience at AGTS prepare you for life after graduation?
After teaching music for several years, in 2003 I entered the Master of Arts in Professional Counseling degree program at AGTS. My entrance essay focused on my passion to strengthen individuals and families through both counseling and presenting marriage seminars. After graduating in 2006, I passed the National Counseling Exam and accepted a position with a Healthy Marriage Initiative federal grant at Forest Institute. My position included teaching relationship seminars and serving as the liaison to faith-based grant partners in a 29-county area of Southwest Missouri. In 2007, Ruth Kaunley invited me to join the counseling team at Central Bible College. In addition to counseling students, I introduced the CBC counseling department to the benefits of becoming a partner with the Healthy Marriage Initiative grant. This partnership provided training in professional relationship curricula for the CBC counselors and also afforded funding for our team to present the relationship seminars for three years to CBC students. Over 300 CBC students attended the “How to Avoid Marrying a Jerk” and “PREP-The Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program” seminars. Therefore, not only did my training at AGTS equip me to fulfill my dream of counseling and presenting relationship seminars, it also progressed into God’s greater plan of the CBC counseling team teaching healthy relationship principles to students preparing for ministry around the globe.
In 2011, I was teaching a couple’s class “The Journey” at Central Assembly in Springfield, Missouri. Ava Oleson attended the class and recruited me for the Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Care and Counseling Cohort. The coursework provided an outstanding journey of both personal and professional growth. My parents, Rev. Raymond and Vivian Lasseter, pastored a church in Blue Eye, Missouri for over 50 years. From the age of three, I ministered in music with my family in church and on my dad’s radio program in Branson, Missouri. I gave my first sermon at age fourteen, although I remember feeling a little defeated after I spent weeks preparing to speak and the message lasted all of five minutes, resulting in the pastor asking if my dad would like to preach! Throughout my life, the Lord has opened doors for me to minister in speaking and singing, both in the United States and internationally. After serving in ministry most of my life, the DMIN degree provided the required theology coursework to “officially” become a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God. That step was especially significant to me since my great-grandfather was a circuit-riding preacher, my grandparents served as an elder and song-leader in a Pentecostal church in Thayer, Missouri (in the early 1900s before the AG was organized), and my parents were pastors.
AGTS definitely played a major role in preparing me for my current ministry and career. I’m honored and humbled to serve as a minister of the life-changing news of the gospel, whether speaking in churches or coming alongside someone and demonstrating care and compassion through the ministry of counseling.
What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?
Study and take advantage of every opportunity to increase your knowledge in the field of work you are preparing for. Be open to the guidance and direction of God’s calling on your life. Build relationships with other students that you can network with when you enter your career. I still keep in touch with AGTS counseling grads and confer with them for insight.
What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from AGTS?
Positivity, passion, purpose, and preparedness. Emotional intelligence. A desire to continue learning. Evidence of the fruits of the spirit, especially self-control. A servant’s heart. A lover of Jesus.