Bill Owens is our Senior Pastor, a position he took in January 2015. Prior to serving at GraceWorks, Bill was the Pastor of Ridgedale Baptist Church in Chattanooga, where he served 31 years. Bill has pastored other churches in Tennessee and Kentucky.
A graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Bill earned both his Master’s and Doctorate from SBTS. His undergraduate work was completed at Cumberland College.
Bill is a native of Tennessee, having grown up in a rural community, Marlow, near Oak Ridge. Bill met his wife, Darlene, while attending Cumberland College; they were married in 1971. Darlene was very active in ministries where Bill pastored, serving along side him until losing her personal battle with cancer in 2013. Bill has two grown children and three grandchildren. In the footsteps of her mother, Bill’s daughter – April – teaches school in the Hamilton County School system while his son – Billy – works with U.S. Express Trucking.
Having a great heart for the members of his church and community, Bill enjoys the time he can spend with others. He’s always open for a talk or to schedule an appointment. On most Mondays, between the hours of 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM, you’ll find Bill at Starbucks, Hamilton Place for his "Over Coffee" talks! (Check our calendar here!). Drop by for a friendly conversation or even a more serious talk about theology, world issues, the ministries of GraceWorks, or just to pass the time of day!
Worship is an outward expression of an inward experience. When we express our love for God, He receives it as worship. His children worship Him in different ways, some are moved to expressions of joy, and emotions while other worship thru a more reflective style. We enjoy freedom of worship in our service so you are able to worship your Savior in the manner He leads you.
Worship can be in private, individual or in a corporate setting. Here at GraceWorks Church we usually start our services with a praise style of song, with the use of a choral Call to Worship, followed by a time of welcome and then corporate chorus and hymn singing, with the flow moving from a praise to a worship feel. We usually have a final expression of worship either by the choir or a soloist. Our worship team’s goal is to prepare the congregation for the teaching of God’s word.
We desire to have Jesus Christ be honored and praised in everything we sing. You will hear a blended style of music at our church that balances old hymns of the faith, southern gospel favorites, alongside some of today's new choral praise and worship songs.
Our desire is that everyone is ministered to by some aspect of our praise and worship service.
- Richard Sorey, Worship Team Leader
My Memories of the Founding of Grace Works Church
At Its 10th Anniversary - 2016
By Lynda Gilreath Scott
Grace Works Church was founded in March 2006 by Dr. Dennis Newman with the help of three benefactors: Dr. Don Brock, Gregg Underwood and Bill Worley. Dr. Newman had just left a large Methodist church that he had helped grow to be the largest in its district. At this stage in his life Dennis thought that he would leave the ministry and work in the "real" world. After discussions with Don, the president of Astec, Dennis was hired but Don soon noticed that Dennis wasn't happy. That's when Don gathered his friends Gregg and Bill together to meet with Dennis to have an old fashioned "come to Jesus meeting"! It didn't take much for Dennis to be convinced that his calling was to be a minister. Dennis had so many friends from his previous churches that they set up a website so that everyone could keep up with him. It was announced on the website that Dennis was starting an interdenominational church and the first meeting place was a large conference room in one of the buildings that Gregg owned just off Shallowford Road. The conference room could hold 75, but on that first Sunday almost 75 additional people were turned away due to lack of room! Everyone that left was told to check the website before the next Sunday and there would be a larger place that would accomodate everyone who wanted to attend. Dennis, Don, Gregg and Bill soon found a large space in Eastgate Mall. Dennis continued to welcome worshipers to the new mall location.
During the first meeting, Dennis was overwhelmed at the response this new church was receiving and made two statements during his first sermon for this new church. The first concerned the generosity and love that so many people had extended to Dennis. He wanted to make it clear that this was NOT going to be the church of "Dennis Newman." It would be a Christ-centered ministry or he wouldn't lead it. The second statement, really a request, was that the church be called Grace Works, "because It does"!
The space rented from Eastgate was very large with very few walls which meant that traditional Sunday School classes for adults couldn't be accommodated. To solve this problem, the church had everyone who was interested in Bible study sign up in groups, based on each groups' interests, ages, and other factors. Each group met once or twice a month. One of the first groups was the Craft & Altar Guild. These members set out to make the mall space look more like a church with praise banners. The original Chrismon tree is still in use each Christmas in our facility!
Before the banners were started, there was much discussion about the use of religious symbols, banners, etc. I remember sharing that I certainly didn't need a cathedral in which to worship but I felt that a cross was such a Christian symbol that the "unchurched" who came to learn more would surely expect a cross. Don Brock promised that when our church was large enough to building a permanent church building, there would be a cross...a very large cross! Don designed a 110' cross that was erected on the church property!
One last story will tell you that God is within our church and our hearts. The move from Eastgate to the building on the hill was accomplished by the members. At the last worship service at Eastgate, Bob Gilreath, who was in charge of the move, came out dressed in all sizes of boxes! He asked that each person, on their way out of the church, bring their chair to the back exit and stack them for moving. Everyone was glad to help. During the next week everyone worked so hard on our beautiful building. Our first service was marked by the children releasing hundreds of balloons with prayers attached to them. Bob's name was listed with the security company as a first responder if there was anything that went wrong at the church. Of course, the night of the first service at about 1 am, the security company called and asked Bob to meet the police at the church. The burglar alarm had sounded. Bob's wife, Bonnie Moore Gilreath, accompanied him and the policeman around the church only to find that one of the balloons had escaped in the sanctuary and set off the motion-detector alarm. As the three talked in the entryway, they noticed car lights coming up the hill. The policeman offered to go to the door since the hour of the day made it highly unlikely that someone just wanted to visit! The car pulled in to the covered entryway; a woman exited the car and walked past the policeman to Bonnie. The woman was dressed in a uniform and appeared to work at one of the 24-hour cafes nearby. She handed Bonnie an envelope and said, "I don't know why but I know I need to give this to you." Before anyone could thank her or invite her to worship with us, she walked away and drove off. The envelope held a twenty dollar bill.
I interpreted this event as a message from God, the He wanted to bless our church and our mission. God has been and still is with us in our mission to spread the work of God. Both Dennis and Don have left this earth for a better place, and even though the church has had its "ups and downs" these last 10 years, God sent Dr. Bill Owens to lead us as we grow into the future.
The First Board of Trustees of GraceWorks Church - March 2006
- Dr. Dennis Newman, Pastor
- Dr. J. Don Brock, Trustee
- Gregg Underwood, Trustee Chairman
- Bill Worley, Trustee
- Tom Cannon, Board member
- Heidi deVries, Board member
- Robyn McWherter, Board member
- Willie Morris, Board member
- Lori Spencer, Board member
- Rick & Miss Wood, Board members
- Jim Coppinger, Board member
- Paul Lynch, Board member
- Lynda G. Scott, Treasurer