The church has left the building Sustaining our Covenant community in a time of separation

Covenant News - May 2020
Message from Bob Henderson

So many adaptations! And sadness. And joy. And loss. And questions. And, of course, hope and new life. The last month has doled out the gamut of human emotion, and it’s been my privilege to join you in the highs and lows of all of it.

The highs, of course, are grounded in powerful Holy Week/Easter observations and congregational faithfulness. I think I’ll always remember the beautiful simplicity of this year’s Good Friday service: scripture to tell the story; a lone cello to interpret the story, and light extinguished to symbolize the story. I found myself grateful for the opportunity to focus on the essentials. The same happened on Easter. I’ve never heard Handel’s Messiah sung by four voices before, but I’ll never hear it the same again. And, of course, Easter’s essential claim of life’s victory over death is particularly important this year.

The lows of the last month certainly center on the loss of loved ones, especially as they lay in isolation. Many have struggled with not being able to grieve through familiar rituals, and, of course, not having the privilege of being present to escort a loved one from this life to the next. My heart extends to the many in our congregation who have faced such circumstances.

I’m grateful for the heart of this congregation that has revealed nothing but compassion and resilience. You have loved, served, volunteered, forgiven, and affirmed the value of being in relationship with one another in ways far beyond my imagining. You have witnessed to me what it means to be, as the Apostle Paul said, “the body of Christ and individually members of it.” Thank you for that gift. I’ll be forever grateful.

Finally, this e-newsletter will show all the ways we’re trying to adapt our life so as to sustain our sense of community with each other and our mission to the world. Read, enjoy, and support our efforts. We need each other, now more than ever.

With gratitude,


From Gale Pendergraph: As someone who has lived across the street from our church for 29 years, Anita and I have seen a lot of things taking place over the years. In the past weeks, as the church has been closed to the public, it has been interesting seeing the activity around the campus:

  • Lots of people are walking by and stopping to look at the flowers/trees/etc. Many are going into the Columbarium to just sit (some seem to be praying) or enjoy the quiet. Some are taking pictures of the blooming trees.
  • Many people are standing in the circle looking up towards the steeple.
  • The FUN activity was the day when a number of fathers had their young children on tricycles having races around the circle. The families were spaced around the circle cheering them on.
  • So we may be closed, but we are still part of Charlotte and Dilworth.
Ministry area highlights

Stephen Ministers find new ways to keep connected

Stephen Ministers meet via Zoom.

Even though they can’t meet with their care receivers face to face right now, there is nothing virtual about the care Covenant’s Stephen Ministers are providing. These trained lay caregivers are paired with individuals facing challenging circumstances – grief, job loss, relationship difficulties, transition challenges and more – and with compassion, they listen, pray, and provide support and encouragement.

While they typically meet with their care receivers in person, Stephen Ministers are now providing care via phone calls, texts, emails, and FaceTime. As with so many things, it’s not the same as a face to face meeting, but the compassionate care they are providing to numerous people in our community is making a difference.

If you or someone you know could benefit from the care of a Stephen Minister, contact Katherine Kerr for more information.

Coming together in prayer

It's called Pray Without Ceasing. You're invited to commit with the congregation to pray for 15 minutes as we build a web of prayer that lifts up our friends, church family and those most vulnerable in our community. You can trust that someone in your Covenant family is lifting you up in prayer, too. Sign up here to commit to a specific time to pray.

Mission & Outreach: What can we do?

Covenant folks volunteered at Loaves and Fishes.

When this strange season began to set in, one of the first questions Covenant members asked was, "What can we do?" Many have reached out to lend a hand in support of our partners, yet few agencies are able to accommodate volunteers at this time.

You can read below about actions we have taken to support partners and learn how you can respond, even in small ways. Because each of us is a member of Christ's body, we all have something to offer, even as we are privileged to share in power and purposes far beyond ourselves. See the full list of ways to help here.

  • Distributed Room in the Inn kits, delivered Texas Hash to the Men's Shelter, purchased groceries for Urban Ministry Center, gave left over food and snacks to various partner agencies, and continued monthly support for Dove's Nest meal at Community Matters Cafe until Elizabeth Circle resumes
  • Re-purposed 100+ "move in" bags that Covenant members had gathered for The Mezzanine to be distributed at McCreesh Place and Urban Ministry Center
  • Displaced Queens University students took up residence in the Fellowship Hall basement and were fed by Covenant families
  • Donated RITI bedding to the Salvation Army Center of Hope
  • Covenant members are making masks for partners working on the front lines

Capital campaign update

The leasing office at Mezzanine on Freedom on Monday, April 27

Just because the projects supported by our Capital Campaign For a Whole Community are out of sight these days, doesn’t mean they should be out of mind. As of April 16, approximately 89 percent ($11.1 million) of budgeted pledges have been received. With that money, we have completed campus construction and fulfilled start-up expenses for the Child Development Center, slightly under budget.

We’ve also funded the first $1.2 million in the CDC Scholarship Endowment. Contributions have been made to the Cornerstone Endowment Fund and more will be added to both Cornerstone and the CDC Scholarship Endowments in the coming weeks.

At the Mezzanine on Freedom affordable housing community, supported by a $2 million investment from our congregation, the first building has obtained a Certificate of Occupancy. The 30 units in that building have been fully leased, with 26 of them reserved for residents below Area Median Income and four at market rate. Move-ins began at the end of this month on a staggered basis in order to maintain appropriate social distancing measures.

Though this remains a time of many unknowns, one thing is certain: We will need the remaining budgeted pledges to fully fund and complete the commitments we made. Click here to read a full capital campaign update.

Education: What can we learn?

Middle school youth meet with Alyssa Pacheco via Zoom

Middle and high school youth have relied heavily on technology. Though we are physically distant, we’ve been able to see a more expansive array of faces on our screens, and we’ve definitely had to get creative for activities and programming — nevertheless, we are moving forward with fellowship and Sunday School every week, and even a virtual movie night every now and then! Above all, we are all thankful to be safe.

New with Covenant Kids

What a joy it's been to see smiling faces and connect with small groups (virtually). Join us by watching the Power Up videos created by our awesome Covenant kids and parents. We'd love to have your family share, too. Let us know if you'd like to share a Power Up story by video for a coming week. See the full children's schedule here.

Preschool presses onward

Our Preschool is holding story time sessions, show and tells, birthday celebrations and even weekly talent shows. In one class, teachers collect pictures from families and create virtual books for the class to read. The staff meets weekly with Mrs. Becky and Mrs. Cindy to share gratitude, prayer and praises. They learned a new recipe for focaccia bread and even took part in yoga. This week, Mrs. Cindy created a Bingo game with squares filled by descriptions of things we miss.

Doing Youth Sunday differently

Hear from a talented member of our senior class each day. These youth have worked hard to prepare and record sermons with guidance from HSY Director Martin Pruitt. While we'll miss out on youth serving as readers and greeters, we hope this approach is no less special. Click here to subscribe to One Takes.

Young Adult virtual hangouts, brunches

Some are hopeful. Some are anxious. Some are scared. Some people feel more connected than ever. Others feel more alone. Whatever you're feeling, join us for our Virtual Hang Out. It's simply a time to chat, share, laugh, and pray together. See the full Young Adults schedule here.

Wednesday night study on The Book of Joy

Now that they are both in their 80s, the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu want to spread the core message that to have joy yourself, you must bring joy to others. We'll explore the topic in an eight-week Wednesday night book study at 6:30 p.m. beginning April 29. Click here to get connected.

Feature story

A grocery list, an unexpected friendship

Nancy Falls volunteered to deliver groceries. She didn't foresee what happened next.

Nancy Falls and Sandra Lare

Nancy: I’ve always known Sandra but mainly because her sister, Linda Blythe, taught all three of our daughters at Covenant Preschool many years ago. As it turns out, Sandra lives very close and I pass by her home many times every week. Shopping for Sandra’a groceries fills a need for her and gives me a sense of purpose and accomplishment (as some days pass by without having done anything productive).

But beyond the “need,” it has become something I really look forward to. We end up chatting about all kinds of things, even topics typically off limits - like politics - and we connected on a mutual friend that lived in her building. Sandra has an extensive folk art collection that could occupy hours of curiosity - it is extensive in the number of pieces and in the diversity of media - and she is physically surrounded by things she truly loves. Hearing how she has acquired her works of art through the years is so interesting and fun to hear. It just goes to show how we all are so closely knit if we just take the time to find a common connection. As Katherine Kerr reminded us this morning, “in the midst of hard things, we can find beauty and joy.” We are called by God to serve in big and small ways. Sometimes the small ways bring the most joy and lead you to unexpected beauty of a new friendship.

Sandra: I was somewhat concerned about going shopping knowing that I am high risk. Nancy will go to several stores for what is on my shopping list! She has wiped down my groceries. One time, she bought me yellow tulips, not knowing they were my favorites and also that it was my birthday. She has been a listening ear hearing my concerns about my dear sister who is very ill. Mainly, Nancy is a very caring and compassionate person. I feel grateful I have the opportunity to know her.