New name, new vision for Eaton church

By Michael Zimmerman

November 19, 2013

Reinventing yourself is tough. That’s what the former Eaton Church of God on East U.S. 35 is doing.

Pastor Patrick Owens has been leading the church for three and a half years, and he said the new name, Grace and Fire Worship Center, is the result of those previous years of determining the direction of the church.

“We’ve spent the last three and half years, from 2010 to now, working with our small group of people, trying to determine what direction we were going,” Owens said. “We have some peace now with moving forward with a new name and a simple vision, a simple direction.”

Owens has been a pastor since 1994, and he’s pastored at various churches in Georgia and Ohio. He had taken a sabbatical from preaching, and he currently works as a Hospice chaplain.

The church on U.S. 35 in Eaton has been in operation for about 30 years, and as the Eaton Church of God, it had its ups and downs. Owens got the call a few years ago. He got a call from the bishop from his denomination, and he’s been the pastor ever since.

The Grace and Fire Worship Center is part of the Church of God of Cleveland, Tennessee. But for Owens, the denomination isn’t the biggest part of it. At the Grace and Fire Worship Center, it’s more about bringing a unique approach, a contemporary approach to worship.

“There are differences in our style (from other local churches of the denomination), not necessarily our beliefs,” Owens said.

He described the Grace and Fire Worship Center as a ‘come as you are’ church. No fancy dress needed. The services have a more contemporary music style as well.

“It goes along with our philosophy that worship is a ‘right now’ experience,” Owens said. “We don’t just want to sing about God in the past. We want a present relationship. That doesn’t mean we’ve closed the door on the traditional hymns. You’ll hear those in our services.”

Owens said with attendance currently around 30, it’s a struggle to find musicians for a full service.

“We are hoping to find some folks in the community who have a similar vision to worship with us who have some abilities in music,” he said.

The change of the name to “Grace and Fire” was part of the transition, a change of name to signify the new philosophy of the church.

“It’s just part of who we are, my wife’s and my goals for a ministry,” Owens said. “We want to emphasize the grace and mercy of God, through Jesus of course. And the fire, the passion, our own passion for worship toward Him. Reach people with the gospel. The fire of the Holy Spirit. We feel those two terms define what we want to be about.”

Along with that, the Owens’ vision comes down to three things for the ministry.

“We’ve really narrowed down our vision of just three basic desires and goals,” Owens said. “Those are to worship God, change lives through the gospel, and to build healthy followers of Christ. That’s through teaching the word of God and practical principles of Christian living.”

Owens currently lives in Hamilton and works in Cincinnati, but he’s hoping to grow the Grace and Fire Worship Center to bring him back to what he is driven to be: a full-time pastor.

“My driving motivation as a pastor is the fact that I’m a teacher,” he said. “I feel not only obligated, but driven and passionate about teaching the word of God and teaching what I know about living in the Christian community, and learning as well alongside the learners.”

Owens said part of building the Grace and Fire Worship Center is getting the ministry out in the community more.

“We intend to be more strategic at least a Saturday a month doing something in the community to show some act of kindness or service,” he said. “We believe with 10,000 plus people in Eaton and the surrounding area, even though there are many many churches doing many wonderful things, there are people out there with similar goals and visions who would benefit from what we have to offer here.”

Owens and his family have invested three and a half years in the Eaton area, and they want to continue that.

“We didn’t know about Eaton before coming here to minister,” he said. “We’ve come to love these people and desire good things for them. We feel like we’re where God wants us to be.”

Owens and his wife Melissa have six children, and though he’s worked with Hospice for nine years, he couldn’t stay away from the church.

“I’m called to be a pastor, and that’s why I couldn’t leave it alone,” he said.

The Grace and Fire Worship Center currently holds Sunday worship at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., as well as Sunday growth groups at 10 a.m. and Wednesday growth groups at 7 p.m. The church is located next to Twin Valley Equipment on U.S. 35, east of Eaton.