As this process continues, our website will be the place to find updates and information regarding this transition. All questions should be submitted to


Meet Our Search Team HERE



JANUARY 11, 2018

Dear Grace Family,

On behalf of the Pastoral Search Team, we hope you all had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  This time of year is always a great time of year to spend time with family and friends, reflecting on the many blessings God has bestowed on each of us, as we reflect on the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!  I’m happy to report that the team also enjoy a little bit of holiday cheer too!  So, as an update, we wanted to share with you a few things we’ve been doing, as well as, make a few requests of you all on our behalf. 


First and foremost, at this point in the process, and as you well know, we’ve received roughly over 175 resumes from candidates as far as from California to Florida.  Each potential candidate has his own God-given talents, skills, and abilities – all of which is a blessing to see what God is doing in the lives of these men and churches in our country for God’s kingdom.  It is truly amazing!  Each of these men of God has a belief in the inerrancy of God’s Word, character and integrity, and are committed to leading and equipping The Church in the areas of missions, ministry, evangelism, discipleship, and worship.  As you can image, without faith and trust in God’s leading and guiding, this would be an extremely difficult endeavor for any man or woman, let alone our little search team to accomplish alone.  We are prayerfully seeking God’s face and wisdom in all that we do! 


Our process with each and every potential candidate is to prayerfully research and evaluate each candidate from a “spiritual perspective” and a “practitional perspective.”  From a practitional view, has the candidate personally led a congregation comparably to the size of Grace, and managed a budget to like that of Grace, and prior Christian school experience?  As for the “spiritual perspective,” does the candidate have a profound love for and impact on the lives of the people in his community, the church, and staff in which he serves, and does he have a vision from God for Grace, Karns, and Knoxville?  Subsequently, our process leads us to more fervent prayer and research regarding candidates to continue to research more, prior to deciding to contact, to get more acquainted, and ultimately request an interview, and maybe visit.


Lastly, we are requesting your prayers throughout this process.  As you can see we are seeking a very special candidate that only God can provide.  A man that who strives to model Christ in all aspects of life of his life.  We cannot solicit enough prayer and support not only for the team, but also for the staff and their families.  Their commitment and service to God and to our church cannot be express, nor does it go unnoticed.  We ask that you be diligent, specific, and committed to prayer for our church and its ministries, as we all faithfully follow God.  (Hebrews 3:1-6)


The team’s next in-church update is planned for Sunday, January 20th, during both services.

God Blessings to You and Your Family from the Pastor Search Team. 


Bill Bailey
Search Team Member


NOVEMBER 28, 2017
 The angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. – 1 Kings 19:7-8


Greetings, Grace family! 
We discussed this passage in our weekly meeting a couple of weeks ago, and then Bro. Michael preached from this same chapter last Sunday.  There is a lot a person could unpack here.  As we reflected on what Elijah was going through, we were reminded that there are times in life where the task in front of us is simply too hard for us in our own strength.  Tired and weary, we reach a point that we cannot go on.  The angel said “the journey is too great for you.”  I know we all can relate to this.  The great news is that God always, always, knows what is ahead and provides everything we need to move forward in His strength.  He is before us.  And just like Elijah, if we wait and listen, and keep following Him, we can hear what He has to say.  The important thing is to never assume how or when God will actually speak, but rather to wait on His timing and His voice.  God knew Elijah needed those 40 days to recover before he was given his next task.  Those days were not necessarily easy, but they provided the respite Elijah needed to be ready for what came next.  Even now, God still knows what we need and when we need it.  The wait may not be easy, but if it is ordained by God it is exactly what we need.  We trust in Him alone.


In the last four weeks, we have finished processing all submitted resumes.  We viewed over 160 resumes.  We now have a short list of resumes we saved out of this round and the first pastor search process.  Those candidates have received the theological questionnaire we send out as a first step in our process.  From here, we prayerfully and carefully consider how to proceed with each candidate.


As you have so faithfully done, please continue to pray for us and for Grace.  This is an important time in the process.  You could think of this phase as “when the rubber meets the road”.  As long as new resumes are coming in, you do not really commit to any candidates and anything could happen from week to week.  But now that resumes are no longer being processed, we have to begin narrowing down candidates; committing steps in one direction or another.  It was a sobering step the first time around, and it is no different this time.  We only want to go where God leads and when He leads us.  Pray for unity and vision for the team AND the entire church.


God knows exactly where we are, where we are going, and how we are going to get there.  He will provide everything needed along the way.  We firmly believe this.  No matter how hard things may seem right now, one day this will just be a memory we look back on that reminds us of how faithful God is.  Let us not lose heart during this time, but rather, keep being the church here and now exactly where we are, knowing what God will do.


God Bless,

Jonathan Gardner
Pastor Search Team, Member
OCTOBER 25, 2017
 Wanted: One Senior Pastor with 75 years experience and only in his 40s!
Hi Grace! Bob here. The above statement is only a joke, but it reminds me that searching for our next pastor puts us in miracle territory! I have been reminded that God didn’t change when our last pastor resigned, God hasn’t changed since March 29th 2016 when this search team met for the first time, or since December 1916, when God saw fit to establish this church. He never changes!He still has the divine plan for all of us individually and for Grace as a local church body!

We are plowing through resumes and praying for God’s Hand to lead us. As we head into the season of thanks, I’m reminded of how thankful I am for each one of you at Grace. (I generally skip the Halloween stuff except for candy) God, in His infinite wisdom, has placed us here for His purpose in Kingdom work. I am thankful every time the Search Team gathers and prays for God’s next man for Senior Pastor here. I know the journey we’ve had is not wasted or accidental.

I am thankful for a faithful group of men who serve as our church ministerial staff! God has them in His hands as instruments to help Grace become all that it is designed to be. Pray for our eyes to see clearly as we head into the season of thanks and praise. Pray for continued church unity, as that is one of the best ways to honor our Lord!

With all that said, take a moment and count the ways God has blessed you, your family, Grace Baptist Church, and pray with anticipation that the next pastor at Grace has a heart that’s already stirring!
God Bless You All!
Bob Bell
OCTOBER 4, 2017
 “Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.” Jeremiah 32:17

After reading Jeremiah 32:17, all I could think about was the omnipotence of God.  We have an omnipotent God! He has the ability and power to do anything (OMNI -all; POTENT-powerful).  There is nothing too difficult for our God.  As the pastor search process continues, there will be times as a church we might feel overwhelmed, exhausted or even fearful BUT God has this.  What an incredible opportunity for us to see God move among our congregation, pastor search team and our church staff.    

As we continue to move forward, I want to give a quick update on the search process to date.   The Pastor Search team continues to meet weekly for a time of devotion and prayer.  We continue to receive resumes through the Southern Baptist Convention posting and referral resumes.  As of September 28, we have already processed 107 resumes with more still coming in.  We are looking forward to seeing what the Lord has in store for us. 


We “thank you” for all the prayers and support.   As you go about your week, we ask you to be in prayer for the following:   
  • Pray for supernatural discernment, wisdom and strength for the Search Team
  • Pray for unity and oneness of the spirit
  • Pray for God’s wisdom in all areas of the search process
  • Pray for God’s timetable, not our timetable
  • Pray for the future pastor and his family
  • Pray for a hedge of protection around the PST, staff and Grace Baptist Church
  • Pray for our current G pastors and staff

We feel privileged to be serving such a great church!


Raechel Eller
Pastor Search Team, Member

Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. 8 The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.
Psalms 28:6-9 ESV

Greetings Church Family,


In Psalms 28, David is confessing his trust in the Lord and pleading with God to be the shepherd of his people. David is asking the Lord to lead, protect, and provide knowing that it is God, and God alone, who is truly qualified to be their Savior and King. As we find ourselves once again in another season of transition my prayer is that we all would continue to put our faith and trust in the Lord – Our True Shepherd! Let us not succumb to doubt and fear. Let us not lose hope. Let us not forget the reason that God has led, nourished, and sustained the people of Grace Baptist church for the last 100 years. Let us trust in the Lord and continually be about His business of “seeking and saving that which is lost!”
On behalf of the entire Pastor Search team, I want to extend a profound thank you to the entire congregation of Grace for your prayers, support, and encouragement over the last few weeks. We are humbled and honored to have the opportunity to serve as your search team once again. As before, we will prayerfully conduct the next search process in a manner that would bring honor to God and edify His church. We would also like to thank the Pastors and Staff of Grace. Their support has been overwhelming and has allowed us to establish a proper foundation for resuming our search for the next Senior Pastor candidate of Grace.
I wanted to take a few moments and briefly update you on the search process thus far. The Pastor Search team has already met on a couple of occasions and we have begun the search process. At first, we spent time prayerfully reviewing our procedures and candidate profile – making adjustments as necessary. Then, we formally published the position and began receiving resumes through a number of different streams. As of Thursday, September 7th we have processed through 24 resumes with several more coming in each day. We were also blessed to be able to retain one candidate from our previous search process. As the process moves forward we will continue to process new resumes, send out theological questionnaires, conduct interviews, check references, execute background checks, and make on-site visits. We have a lot to do over the next few months and I want to thank you ahead time for your prayers, your patience, and your support.


As David wrote, “The Lord is the strength of His people…” May God continue to strengthen the people of Grace Baptist church and provide His wisdom to our Staff. May we continue to follow the Lord’s leading and be found worthy stewards of the blessings that He has so richly poured out on us. May we continue to build His kingdom for His honor and glory. May we continue to trust in the Lord!


God Bless,


Tony Pointer
Pastor Search Team, Chairman
July 18, 2017
 Grace Family,


As many of you know, on Sunday, July 16, Dr. Jeff Crawford resigned as Senior Pastor of Grace Baptist Church. This news was unexpected and surprising to everyone. We would like to thank Dr. Crawford for his 4 months of service and leadership, and we will continue to pray for the Crawford family in the days ahead. 

The pastors and leadership team of GBC want to express our deepest appreciation for your prayers and support during the last few days. The response has been overwhelming, and it is evident that God is up to something unique at Grace. None of us imagined that we would be where we are today; we are reminded though, that God knew all along, and nothing has taken Him by surprise. Our charge is to remain faithful and trust in Him. God is already doing tremendous work at Grace, and we must continue in the work He has begun.

The pastoral leadership team has come together and are unanimous in our belief that we must continue


We have witnessed great movement and momentum in our church during the last several months. The vision we have from God is clear and unchanged, and we will not stop pursuing people who need to experience Jesus.

In our times of sharing and prayer this week God has spoken clearly. We were directed to powerful scriptures like Philippians 4:6-7 and Habakkuk 2:3. Our hearts are united, we are moving ahead, and we are trusting God for greater things!


The Best is Yet to Come,

Your Leadership Team

Bobby T. | Bryan R. | Bryan T. | George T. | Jason B. | Jeff D. | Mark B. | Mike T. | Rob H. | Todd H.