Marriage Conference at Cornerstone.

Our friends at Cornerstone Church of Knoxville have invited us to a marriage conference with pastor & author Christopher Ash in a few weeks.

It is entitled…


Their website reads:

What is the purpose of my marriage? What is the point of sex?

How we answer these foundational questions will impact our marriages & their direction, maybe even more than we realize. Where we look to find these answers is just as important. Therefore, we must look & begin where the Bible begins, with God & His good design. It is exciting for us as a church to welcome Christopher Ash to help us answer these questions. Christopher and Carolyn live in Cambridge, across the pond, where Christopher is a writer-in-residence at Tyndale House.

So, mark your calendars & plan to join us this September 6-7:

  • Conference sessions are Friday night from 7-10pm & Saturday from 9am-noon.

  • Childcare available on Saturday for $10.

YOU are invited to our Baptism Celebration!


Baptism is a seminal moment in the life of a believer—when they confess publicly their trust in Jesus and desire to live for him all the days of their life!

This Sunday, August 18, we are going to celebrate the baptisms of 3 individuals: Ralph, Eliana, & Melanie. We hope can join us in celebrating God’s salvation, especially in the lives of these 3 individuals.

Here are the details:

  • WHEN: Sunday, August 18 at 5:00pm

  • WHERE: Simpson/Bohannon land (162 CR 218, Niota, TN 37826)

  • WHAT: We’ll sing a few songs, celebrate, & eat together

  • SO…: Bring some food to share with everyone & a lawn chair.

Sovereign Grace goes gospel!

If you were to describe Sovereign Grace Music—who write many of the songs we sing—gospel (in the music genre sense) is not a word you would use.

Yet, in their most recent album our friends at Sovereign Grace Music teamed up with Joe Pace & the Shiloh Church Choir. (Shiloh Church happens to be pastored by one of my favorite preachers H.B. Charles.)

It is called Behold Our God! And it is really good. Seriously.


Bob Kauflin & Joe Pace said this about the album: When God sent his Son to save a people for his glory, he didn’t specify what kind of music they should use to praise him. He just said his redeemed choir would be made up of people from every tribe, people, language, and nation (Rev. 5:9). In fact, the Bible contains a surprising variety of ways we can praise God with music: alone and with others, structured and spontaneous, simple and complex, accompanied and a cappella. No one style can express the vastness of God’s attributes and deeds or the multitude of appropriate ways we can respond to him. With that in mind, this album brings together different musical and cultural backgrounds united in the same purpose: to sing to the Lamb, to sing loud, and to sing together (Rev. 5:9-13; Ps. 47:1; Ps. 34:3).

Here is a short clip:

You can listen to it through Spotify or Apple Music. And you can download it here at Bandcamp.

And who knows? With enough pestering maybe Ben and Gil will try out some of these songs?

Our first Membership Class begins THIS Sunday!


The kids are going back to school next week & so too are we!

This Sunday, our first-ever Membership Class will begin. And we are pumped about it!

All the details are below:

  • WHEN: 9:00am on August 4/11/18/25

  • WHERE: ACMS Auditorium

  • WHAT DO I NEED TO DO: Please sign up here

  • BREAKFAST & CHILDCARE are provided

But . . . who is this class for?

It is for you . . . if you are wondering:

  • What it looks like to follow Christ at Trinity Grace

  • What Trinity Grace believes

  • What the purpose of church & church membership is

  • How to join Trinity Grace

  • The nuts & bolts of Trinity Grace (e.g., How do things work? How are decisions made? How do you start serving?)

"It was the hardest thing I have ever experienced, but God's hand was behind it all."


If you have known Chase for any length of time, you have undoubtedly seen him carrying along his guitar nearly everywhere he goes. Chase loves to sing & worship!

But, you may not know that this young man has faced many hard things. HIs joy is not the result of a happy personality. HIs joy is the result of experiencing grace. As he says: “It was the hardest thing I have ever experienced, but God’s hand was behind it all.”

Several weeks ago, Chase shared his testimony at church. Read along to hear more of how God has been at work in his life.

When I was almost three years old, I experienced something that no child should have to go through.  My mom and my biological dad got a divorce.  It was the hardest thing I have ever experienced, but God’s hand was behind it all.  

Not too long after the divorce my mom met Chris Pritchett.  Before long, mom and Chris got married.  As I got to know more and more about Chris, I found him to be one of the godliest men that I know.  I wouldn’t want any other man in my life to call father.  I still get sad sometimes when I think of my biological dad, but I have a heavenly father above and a father here on earth that show me unconditional love.

When I was in elementary school I struggled with the sin of anger and feared the future.  When I was in the sixth grade I went on a youth retreat to the beach.  The theme verse for the retreat was 1st Timothy 1:7.  In this verse Paul was telling Timothy that God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.  This verse affected me in ways that I didn’t even know were possible.  Along with being affected by this verse, I came to trust in Christ and sensed the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life for the very first time.  Throughout these first five years of my new found life in Christ my anger issues have disappeared, and my fear of the future is starting to go away.

I am so grateful for the numerous Christian friends that God has given me.  And I feel extremely blessed to be a part of this church plant with all of you in our little town of Athens, Tennessee.  Thank you all so much for being there when I need prayer and encouragement.  God saved me from my anger and I know he can save you if you just ask Him.  

God led us to others whose lives "were sold out to Christ."

Sometimes its hard to tell what people really want.

This is not the case with Buddy & Judy Luster. Their lives are sold out to Christ.

Last Sunday, they shared their testimony with us & it was a treat. Read along & rejoice at God’s work with us.


Hello, my name is Judy and I was born in Memphis, TN into a loving, Christian home. Our life was centered around our local Southern Baptist Church, local school and my father’s business all within walking distance. I learned to be a good Christian meant that I didn’t smoke or drink or go with boys who did. I walked the church aisle early in life asking Jesus to save me and was baptized. The problems came when I went away to college. When I looked inside for a reason to continue being a good moral person, I was left with, “If my mother ever found out I did that, she would kill me!” There was no belief, faith or personal relationship there, just legalistic religion.

Despair set in as I laid aside the religion of my childhood and began to search for God. In returning home to attend Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis), I ran into an old high school friend who invited me to an evening talk by a woman from California. She shared that in her doubt she had prayed, “God, if you are there, please make yourself known to me.” That night I prayed this same prayer and the next morning I woke up with a peace and freedom from the heaviness that I had not had before. From there God began to lead me to other born again Christians who desired to live lives that were sold out to Christ.

This took place during the Jesus Movement. As the hippie movement for end to war and free love was spreading, the Holy Spirit was also moving bringing many to Christ. As a result new churches and gatherings began to form for these new believers. I was attending a Sunday night meeting for college students in a home and hearing stories of radical Christian living. I began to see a picture of what the New Testament church might have looked like. There I met a young man…


I too was raised in Memphis, born into a Methodist family. I was baptized as an infant, joined the church at the age of 8, and taught about early Methodist history. However, there was little emphasis on God’s word, and I have no memory of anyone sharing the gospel or speaking of the reality of knowing God personally.

I always believed there was a God and that he was the One with whom everyone would have to give an account. My teen years were characterized by smoking, drinking and partying. During high school, I attended Young Life camp where I was moved by the gospel. I truly wanted to change and resolved to live life differently but, unfortunately, my resolve apart from God’s power was not enough.

At the University of Tennessee Martin, I became an engineering student and pledged a fraternity. I studied hard during the week and partied even harder on the weekends. I was satisfied with my sinful life, was definitely not seeking God, and at one point I just wanted God to leave me alone.

Back in Memphis a friend took me to a Sunday night meeting of students and ex-hippies. These were regular, ordinary folks like me; but unlike me they were excited about knowing Christ and were not ashamed to identify with him. They spoke boldly and naturally about Jesus and acted as if they actually knew him. God opened my heart that night as the leader shared about Christ. He shared that there was no “middle ground” when it came to Jesus. I realized that I was trying to live with one foot on each side of the fence. In that living room, I said “YES” to Him and began a life changing journey. I began to understand the grace of God and his unconditional love for me. No longer trying to “clean up” in order to be accepted by God, I began to experience his forgiveness and power at work in my life. He began to transform me; old desires and sinful habits started to fall away.

Looking back, I am amazed by His love for me. I am amazed that He would come after one who was not seeking him but was in actuality running as hard as he could in the opposite direction. And I am convinced that I would not love Him now were it not for the fact that he loved me first.


We were just two singles loving the Lord when He brought us together miraculously, but that’s another story for another day. We believed that God had called each of us to serve Him and found that we had a common passion for Him and for His people. In marrying we desired to see the advance of his Kingdom and to demonstrate the love that He has for his bride, the church. Our commitment to His church has always been a focal point of our life. We have sought to be involved in and to nurture Christ centered, gospel preaching churches.

God led us from Tennessee to Ohio where Buddy attended seminary to prepare for ministry. We were involved in ministry and in helping plant a church there. Later Buddy took an engineering job and served as a lay elder. This was an excellent place to raise our four children surrounded by other Christian families working together to live gospel centered lives. Life moved on.

Over our 46 years of marriage, we have lived in Tennessee, Ohio, Texas, Ohio, China, Ohio, Tennessee, which is why this testimony could be much longer!

Some years ago, we were first introduced to Sovereign Grace Churches when our oldest daughter join a church in Maryland. We visited. We were amazed at the worship, commitment to keeping the gospel as the main thing and we were intrigued with the church life.

In 2005, Buddy’s job transferred him from Ohio to Chattanooga. At that time three of our children lived in Knoxville and attended Cornerstone Church. So for 6 years we drove to Knoxville to be part of that church. Sundays were great but we weren’t not about share life with other believers during the week.

Now with Trinity Grace Church here in Athens, we have loved worshipping with you! Thank you for welcoming us so warmly!

To God be the glory in His Church….

Baptism class—this Sunday, July 21!


Baptism is a wonderful moment in the life of a believer & in the life of the church. Simply put, baptism is one of the first steps of obedience a new believer should take in following Christ.

Usually the problem is not understanding what baptism is. The problem is understanding whether we should be baptized.

Have you ever asked questions like these?

What does it mean to believe the gospel?

How much do we need to understand before being baptized?

Is baptism necessary for salvation?

How old do you need to be to be baptized?

How do I know whether my child is ready to be baptized?

Do we have to be immersed or just sprinkled?

What about being re-baptized? What if I didn’t understand what I was doing the first time? What if I’m not sure I was a Christian when I baptized the first time?

This Sunday, we are having a Baptism Class to answer these specific questions.

If you’ve ever asked these questions, join us this Sunday!

Sunday, July 21

9:15am in the Library



Jonah is one of the most well-known & well-loved stories of the Bible.

After all, what’s not to love? It is a story packed with suspense & intrigue. It includes surprising twists & turns—could anything be more surprising than finding yourself in the belly of a big fish? It is about a man on the run who seems to learn his lesson. But, in the end, we’re left wondering if he learned anything at all.

It is incredibly well-written & well-crafted. As Desmond Alexander has said, “The book of Jonah is undoubtably one of the masterpieces of biblical literature.”

It is a story for young & old, the learned & the not-so-learned, the Sunday school teachers & the top-rate theologians. And all the while, it is a little book about a big God of great mercy.

We are excited about taking a closer look at Jonah this summer—beginning July 14 & continuing for 4 more weeks.

If you want to read ahead, below is the preaching schedule.

July 14—Jonah 1:1–6

July 21—Jonah 1:7–16

July 28—Jonah 1:17–2:10

August 5—Jonah 3:1–10

August 12—Jonah 4:1–11

If you want to read further, below are some helpful resources about Jonah.

Running From Mercy by Tony Carter

Man Overboard! by Sinclair Ferguson

The Prodigal Prophet by Tim Keller

Jonah by Hugh Martin

Backyard Bible School details, July 14-17


We are excited about this opportunity to invest in & serve the kids of our community. We hope you are as well.

Here are all the details:

WHEN: Sunday (July 14th)–Wednesday (July 17th) from 6:00–8:00pm.

WHERE: Cherokee Point Subdvision

Turn on Sullins Road off Decatur Pike across from Athens Regional. At the top of the hill turn Left into Cherokee Point subdivision. A few hundred yards after passing the first subdivision entrance on your left, you will see our tents on the left.


  • SUNDAY—Invite folks & get them registered, play games, & eat hotdogs.

  • MONDAY-TUESDAY—Bible School which includes a rotation between bible lessons, singing, crafts, recreation, & snacks.

  • WEDNESDAY—Same thing as Monday & Tuesday, but will conclude with a presentation for parents.

  • Please eat before you come each night. We will not serve dinner on Monday—Wednesday. On Sunday, we will serve hot dogs, but since we don't know how many folks will come, it would be better for us to eat ahead of time.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING: You should know by now! Everyone who signed up is assigned a spot below.

  • Music—Gil & Thomases

  • Recreation—Taylor, Bo, & Luke

  • Snacks—Hills & Kampmeyers

  • Crafts—Elisabeth & Balches

  • Meerkats (3-4)—Mandy & Tinsmans

  • Giraffes (5-6)—Mindy & Vanessa

  • Zebras (7-8)—Alexanders & Trews

  • Pandas (10+)—Finches & Olsens

  • Food—Michael & Mike

NOT THERE?: If your name is not listed above & you’d like to help, please join us on any of the nights!

Backyard Bible School, July 14–17

One of the questions we have been asking & pondering is: How can we make the challenges & problems of Athens our own?

Biblical mercy is not all talk. It always moves out & is active. Several weeks ago, we studied the Parable of the Good Samaritan & sought to unpack a vision for doing mercy as a church. (If you haven’t already, you can listen to that message here.)

That said, we have a wonderful, uncoming opportunity for us to do mercy together. We are going to host a BACKYARD BIBLE SCHOOL!

Here are the details:

  • DATES: July 14–17

  • TIMES: 6:30–8:00pm

  • WHERE: Cherokee Point mobile home community

  • NEEDS: Your help! We have all sorts of opportunities for families & individuals to serve.

  • WHAT DO DO: Sign up below & we will send you all the details.

Name *

Family Hike, June 22


Mark your calendar for next week’s Family Hike!



We will rendezvous at Athens City Middle School at 9:30am & carpool over to “Pocket Wilderness” for the day.

The “Pocket Wilderness” is a hidden gem. You won’t want to leave after you enjoy its beauty.

The hike is be an easy 2-mile roundtrip hike to “Blue Hole,” where we will rest, eat lunch, & play in the river. The trail is wide & relatively flat, making it easy for families with small kids. The swimming hole is deep enough for older kids/adults to enjoy and shallow enough for the littles to play. Perhaps we can also find a cliff to jump off of!

Bring a lunch, plenty of water, swimming stuff (clothes, towels, goggles, etc) & anything else you need for a day in the woods!

"I must say the grace & mercy of Jesus Christ is sweeter to me now than it was then."

Jesus never gets old. This past Sunday, Kim reminded us that Jesus is the “same yesterday, today, & forever” and will never fail us.

This is simply wonderful news. Read along to “hear” her testimony.

Good morning. I want to share with you and testify how God has miraculously changed my life. I was raised in a wonderful home, in which God provided for all my needs and gave me two hardworking parents who taught me how to live a good, moral life.

However, as I entered my freshman year of college at the University of Tennessee, I began to ask questions of my life and sought to find true happiness. I searched for it mainly in friends and dating. I lived for myself and my desires. However, the happiness I pursued never satisfied.

In God’s kindness, years before my brother became a Christian during his college years at UT. He plugged into a local church and his life was never the same. Several years after that, my sister plugged into the same church and began serving the Lord there. During that first semester, she continually pursued me to come to church and attend campus ministry events. I resisted and then resisted some more. Finally, after her continued prodding, I reluctantly agreed to attend a Christian conference over the winter break. God was at work somehow!

During that conference—in a message about the local church—God began to open my eyes and help me see that I was living a life that did not honor him. God softened my heart, gave me eyes to see and ears to hear the truth from His word. I came to see that I was a sinner in need of a Savior and that God himself sacrificed His one and only Son for ME and my sins. This understanding was freeing and such welcome news! I no longer needed to work to be good or to be accepted, but all through Christ in me! There was such a sweetness and freedom in being forgiven by God in Christ!

That was over 17 years ago. And I must say the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ is sweeter to me now than it was then. I’m still a sinner, but living in the light of the fact that my greatest problem has been taken care of is a game changer. Like many of you, these past 17 years have not gone completely as I had imagined. I am not in the career I thought I would be in. I have had several miscarriages. I have walked through the recent death of my mother. And I have had to take up my cross in ways I didn’t plan to and didn’t want to.

Life can be hard and difficult at times. I have not walked it out perfectly, but I am sure of this: God has never left me or forsaken me. He has been faithful again and again. His grace and mercy have followed me and I trust they always will, because of Jesus.

YOU are invited to this year's ADVANCE Conference!


One of the primary missions of Trinity Grace is to pass the gospel on to the next generation.

Among many others (!), this is one reason we love children & seek to partner with parents in instructing & discipling their children. It takes a community to raise a child & we need as much help as we can get—as any parent can attest!

This summer’s ADVANCE conference could be just the kind of help you need with your middle or high school age student.

Each year our friends at Cornerstone Church invite youth & parents to set aside 3 days for messages, worship, & games of all kinds (human foosball, water blob, gaga ball, etc). This year, they have invited Trinity Grace to join them!

Here are all the details:

  • WHEN: July 25-27

  • WHERE: Fort Bluf Camp in Dayton, TN

  • WHO: Middle & high school students

  • HOW MUCH: $85

Sign up here.

If you would really like to go & money is preventing you from attending, please contact Walt.

When do I know I should be baptized?


One question people often ask is: When do I know I should be baptized?

This is a wonderful & important question.

Baptism is a wonderful moment in the life of a believer & in the life of the church. Simply put, baptism—as stated in greater length here—is one of the first steps of obedience a new believer should take. Jesus commanded his disciples to be baptized (Matt. 28:19). So in obedience to this command, a new believer should be immersed in water in the name of the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. In so doing, we are saying, I believe in Jesus Christ and I believe that I have died with him & have now been raised to new life with him.

So when should we be baptized?

We should be baptized when we believe in Jesus Christ & are ready to testify publicly that we have left everything to follow him. However, since this is such an important question, it is helpful to get the input from family, friends, your pastor, & others to know whether or not we are ready.

Later this summer—in June or July—we plan to have a baptism service for Trinity Grace.

Would you like be baptized? Would you like to learn more about baptism? Would you like to talk to Walt about being baptized?

If so, fill out the form below & Walt will get back to you.

Name *

Lake day!


This coming Saturday (June 1), we’re taking our party to the lake for the day!

We will swim, boat, grill some burgers, fish, & maybe play a few rounds of badminton.

We will get started at 10:00am & go until everyone’s worn out!

We will gather at Jonathan & Elisabeth’s lake house. The address is 299 Culvahouse Lane, 37880. Or you can follow these simple directions:

  • Follow Ingleside Ave out of town & continue on TN-305N for 12.7 miles

  • Turn Left onto TN-68N & follow for 4.6 miles

  • Turn Right onto TN-304N & follow for 6.4 miles

  • Turn Left onto Culvahouse Lane

  • Bear Right after a few hundred yards & the house is about .5 miles on your Left

Please RSVP & sign-up. If you haven’t received the invite yet, email Taylor Hollingsworth (taylor [dot] joel [dot] hollingsworth [at] gmail [dot] com).

Other stuff to bring (in addition for some food/other items to share):

  • Camping chairs or picnic blanket

  • Sunscreen, trunks, towels, etc.

  • Water

  • Water shoes

  • Any water sports equipment you’d like to bring (kayaks, canoes, etc)