Steve & Sarah Berger were pastoring a growing church in Diamond Bar, CA when they felt God prompting them to relocate to Leipers Fork, Tennessee and begin a new ministry. With three other families, they moved to the beautiful Tennessee hills, about thirty miles south of Nashville and planted a new church, Grace Chapel. Laying down a life of the familiar with friends, family, and a flourishing church community to move two thousand miles made no sense personally, professionally or emotionally. And yet God said to ‘go,’ making perfect spiritual sense.
By the grace of God . . .
That small church plant has flourished over the past 21 years, and continues to thrive and grow to this day, as several thousand people now call Grace Chapel home.
Jake and Amy
In the summer of 1999, while Grace Chapel was still meeting in a local elementary school, Jake and Amy Spencer (who were still dating at the time) found and fell in love with the body of Grace Chapel. They got married in 2002 and as the church grew, so did their family. They had a few kids (six to be exact!), and have served faithfully as part of the Pastoral team at Grace Chapel. Over the years Jake has been a volunteer, a part-time staff member, full-time youth pastor, and associate pastor. Today, we can add one more role to the list . . church planter! The road to planting a church in Knoxville is a vision God has birthed in Jake and Amy over time, and they have been praying fervently for the city and its people. Their family of eight is committed to being salt & light to the world around them. With hearts for equipping disciples to walk in the freedom offered in Christ, Jake and Amy are so excited to be a part of all God’s doing in Knoxville.
Alex and Krystal
Alex and Krystal Hawkins have called Grace Chapel home for many years. In fact, Krystal’s family became some of the church’s first members back in 1994. In 2009, after a handful of years in Christian music, Alex and Krystal were married and then spent a year serving as Worship Pastors at a small church in Colorado. Soon enough though, they were called back home to become a part of the Grace Chapel staff. Since 2011, Alex has worked in the Tech Ministry and has served as the Tech Director for the last 2 years. Krystal served as the Sr. High Youth Worship leader right up until welcoming their 3rd child into the family. A few years ago Jesus began knitting the Hawkins into a community of believers with a shared desire of spreading the Gospel through the planting of local churches. Much of that time has been spent seeking God’s face for the “where” and “when” and after spending time in Knoxville the answer couldn’t have been more clear . . . And the Hawkins couldn’t be more excited!
Rob and Sarah
As a young couple, Rob and Sarah Richmond packed up their tiny Michigan apartment and headed south to Nashville in 1999, excited to start a new life. Over the next several years, while building careers in the tech and music industries, the beauty and people of Tennessee became rooted in their hearts. Following the birth of their second child in late 2008, the Richmonds visited Grace Chapel Leiper’s Fork and quickly understood the community of believers there was an answer to many years of prayer. Since then, Rob and Sarah have quietly served in several ministries at Grace, while soaking in as much teaching, worship and friendship as possible. The Richmonds are passionate about living in authentic community and exhorting others to walk in their true identity in Christ. So while moving away from this place they cherish so deeply was not part of the “plan,” their family of five is filled with joy and peace at the opportunity to go love and help equip others just as those pioneers of Grace Chapel LF have done for them.
After 15 years of ministry at Grace Chapel, the Spencers and Hawkins along with the Richmonds are answering God’s call to go just as the ones before us did. Once again history repeats itself: a few families being called to leave a place they love and call home, in order to launch out into the unknown. We, too, are moving to beautiful Tennessee hills and it is stretching us personally, professionally and emotionally. But it is the Lord who called us, goes before us, and prepares the way!
This brings us to where we are now, venturing out to plant Grace Chapel Knoxville. It is the start of the next adventure. As we pray and plan Knoxville continues to grow in our hearts. We are quickly falling in love with the area and more importantly, the people. We cannot wait to see who joins us; to meet the families God will bring to this new church. We are so excited to do life together with you . . .