Band becomes church – unexpectedly

Published 10:49 am Saturday, December 3, 2016

When the members of Unexpected Grace decided to form their band, they weren’t intending on it becoming anything larger. But their joyful sounds of praise attracted such a following that the idea developed to form a congregation.

Tony Dunn, guitarist and associate pastor for Unexpected Grace Ministries, said that the eight to 10 band members came from different congregations, and had been playing together for a decade. In addition to performing at other churches, they’ve played at community functions such as the Boykins Spring Festival.

He said, “There wasn’t really a home for us,” adding that they were looking for a contemporary style of worship.

Meanwhile, the word got out about the music they were performing and the numbers grew to approximately 20.

Somebody more or less said, “Let’s start a church.” Deciding they were serious, the members began with fellowship in October 2015, and the congregation formally started in February of this year.

“We’re growing,” said Dunn, who figures there are 41 members now, with attendance ranging from 40 to 60 people — many younger families have been attracted.

The non-denomination congregation meets for worship at 9:30 a.m., fellowship at 10:30 a.m. and Sunday School at 11 a.m. During the adult service, there’s a Children’s Church in the fellowship hall; the church is at 25000 Shady Brook Trail in Courtland.

Tim Perry is the pastor and lead guitarist; Bernard Rook is the other associate pastor.

Neither the band nor the church are strictly about music. Community outreach programs have included co-sponsoring missions for New Beginnings Women’s Shelter in Richmond; partnering with other churches for a Christmas Shoebox drive; working to provide Thanksgiving meals to 10 families plus eight others known to be in need; and sponsoring an Angel Tree for 30 children this Christmas.

To learn more about Unexpected Grace Ministries, visit or come by to see and hear for yourself.