Our Pastor & Pastoral Residents

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Pastor Joel was born and reared in a pastor’s home in Milwaukee, WI and was first drawn to trust Jesus as a twelve-year-old boy. He earned a B.A. Bible and a few years later a M.A. Theology. While in his college years he met his wife, Tara. They married in 2000 and now have five children, four boys and one daughter.

Before he was called to the pastorate of Grace Life he served as a youth pastor for seven years and assistant pastor for two years. Since July 2012, Pastor Joel has served as the pastor of Grace Life. He desires to see people who have never known Jesus to become followers of Jesus. In God’s providence, Grace Life has become the first church home to many people who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior.

He enjoys watching football, coaching his kids sports teams, spending time with his family, and running.

If you haven’t done so yet, please watch this introductory video. It will give you a window into the people of Grace Life.

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Ben Akatsa serves as worship leader for Grace Life. He and Anita have two boys, Ethan and Zachary.  
For the past twenty years he has been involved in music ministry in different capacities. When he graduated from high school, he served as a keyboard player for a choir, a traveling minister, and a local congregation. Later, he served as band director, a worship leader, and most recently as a keyboardist. He sees worship through the avenue of music, and scripture, as two powerful transformation agents used by the Holy Spirit to do some of  His deepest work in the heart of man.

Grant Alford leads and teaches our students. He and Allison both grew up in Cypress and graduated from Cypress-Creek High School. Grant is our Aggie representative. They have four children: Taylor, Luke, Brooke and Bennett. They have a contagious desire to disciple the next generation of Christians. If not leading a Life Group or a student ministry event, you’ll find Grant playing bass in our worship band. 


Lemuel Duran has been a part of our pastoral residency for the past year. He, Joanna and the girls (Rachel and Becky) are a joy to be around. Lemuel leads one of our Spanish Life Groups, teaches a discipleship class and is heavily involved in our musical worship ministry.

Joanna and her team of volunteers lead our Kidz Church ministry every Sunday.