Owen Center staff counselors hold professional degrees in theology and/or counseling and are certified (or in the process of attaining certification) with the Association of Credentialed Biblical Counselors (ACBC). Associate and assistant counselors complete a certified, master’s level training program and are approved by our board.

Dr. Gary B. Spooner

Gary has been a lead pastor for 38 years in churches in Mississippi and Alabama. Most recently, he pastored Covenant Presbyterian Church in Auburn, Alabama for 29 years. Recognizing the need for Christ-centered counseling in the Auburn area, he and his wife, Jill, began the Owen Center in 2015.

He received a Masters of Divinity degree from Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, MS and a Doctor of Ministry in Counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA.

Gary and Jill delight in five children and (to date) 13 grandchildren.



Jill Spooner

Jill, co-founder of the Owen Center, holds a BA (English) from the University of Georgia, a Master’s degree from Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson), and an MA in Counseling from Westminster Theological Seminary. She earned three certificates from the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF).

Jill works part-time at the Owen Center and focuses on the needs of women. She regards counseling as a privilege and part of a life calling to help others connect biblical theology and real life.




Rev. Braden Benson

Braden holds a Masters of Arts of Christian Counseling as well as a Masters of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC.  He received a degree in Psychology from Mississippi State University with a special focus in Marriage and Family Therapy.  He is also a member of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).  For the past six years he and his wife have worked in ministries of counseling, adult Christian education and with Joni & Friends, a Christ-based ministry to the disabled. Through the Owen Center Braden pursues a life-calling to serve Christ by cultivating the ministry of biblical counseling in His church.

Board of Directors

The Owen Center is led by a Board of Directors consisting of Clifford Jones, Pastor of Greater Peace Baptist Church in Opelika; Sara Smith T, a local pediatrician; Ron Anders, the mayor of Auburn; Mike Preg a local retired Presbyterian pastor; Howard Eyrich, who leads the counseling ministry of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham; and Gary Spooner, who is executive director. Gary’s preparation for leading the center includes 40 years of pastoral counseling, a doctoral degree from Westminster Theological Seminary, training through the Christian Counseling Education Foundation (CCEF) and certification by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).