Our Leadership

For over 10 years, Kennedy McGowan has served as the pastor of First Presbyterian Church, where he works with a team of 9 elders, elected by the congregation to lead the church.

Fast Facts about Kennedy

  • A preacher’s kid, Kennedy was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he grew up in his father’s church, Central Presbyterian.
  • He worked for a year in New York City in public relations, representing dance clubs, soap opera stars and restaurants
  • He received his bachelor’s degree in History, English, and Bible and Religion from King College in Bristol, Tennessee, and his Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary.
  • He is married to his wife, Chantal Gagnon, a psychotherapist, for six years, and they have one son, Patrick.
  • He likes movies, mysteries, excellent beer, and a nice cup of tea, iced or hot, but never coffee

How did you first become a follower of Jesus?
When I was a young teenager, I struggled with the conflict between acceptance by my peers, and approval by my parents. That struggle became so overwhelming that I even thought about ending it all. But at a youth conference in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the Christian speaker, Tony Campolo, helped me realize that in Jesus, I was already approved and accepted, even with all my faults and failings. When I accepted the reality of God’s love and grace, it freed me from the anxieties that had plagued me, and put me on the path of a great adventure with God that has been more amazing and incredible than I could ever have dreamed.

Who are your favorite people from the Bible?
I really like David and Paul. David reminds me of how if you just seek after God’s own heart  no matter how you screw up or what messes life brings you, God will work in the midst of all those things in ways you could never expect. And in Paul, I see someone whose passion for God and the good news of God’s grace in Jesus, enabled him to overcome tremendous obstacles, and to live a life that has had stunning impact on the world. As someone who loves the adventure of travel, I find it cool, too, how he journeyed all over the known world of his day to share the gospel.

Who are the spiritual writers who have influenced you?
C.S. Lewis, John Calvin, Dallas Willard, Tim Keller, Anne Lamott, Thomas Merton, Eugene Peterson, and Kathleen Norris to name a few.

What is your favorite passage of scripture?
Romans 8:28

What was your first job?
Bagging groceries at a grocery store in Chattanooga.

What are your favorite TV shows?
Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, Morning Joe among others

What is your favorite book?
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

What are your favorite characteristics of Christ?
I love the way that Jesus welcomed everyone, and met them – right where they were- at the point of their deepest needs, with the love and grace of God.

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