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March - May 2018 | Lent/Eastertide


TABLE OF CONTENTS

CONTRIBUTORS SENIOR PASTOR Thomas Daniel

{ FROM THE LEAD }

CLERK OF SESSION Melanie Williamson BUSINESS ADMINISTRATOR Duane Dube

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Pastor's Letter

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Session and Financial Update

{ FEATURES }

EDITOR Stephanie Schultz

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DESIGN AND LAYOUT Noël Kalmus

God Did This

{ LIFE }

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Susan Holman, Elizabeth McBride, Megan Poore, Jon Wasson

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Life Guide

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Why Fast?

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Teaching Children How to Budget

PHOTOGRAPHY Stephanie Schultz, Doug Kilday, Evangeline Herring

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Sticky Love

{ COMMUNITY }

SPECIAL THANKS TO Paul Mowry, Brian Sparks

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A Quiet Transformation

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Flashes of Hope

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Worth the Drive

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New Members

{ EVENTS } 25 Calendar

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pg. 23


live in love & joy

{ FROM THE LEAD}

Dear Friends,

As the weather gets warmer, we are in the midst of one of the most important times of the year for followers of Jesus: the season of Lent and our intentional journey of reflection and repentance to the cross, the tomb and the resurrection. I hope you are finding practical ways of entering Lent through our teaching series based on John Ortberg’s book, The Me I Want to Be. The following Ortberg quote continues to inspire me: “What I really want is to be fully alive inside. What I really want is the inner freedom to live in love and joy.” Jesus promises His followers that this kind of life is possible. In John 10:10 He states, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” My prayer is that our Lenten journey will help each one of us to flourish and come fully alive! The final week of our Lenten journey, Holy Week, marks the high point in our year. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday where we remember Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem for Passover. Each day of the week we will trace his steps through that fateful week using the Gospel of Matthew. This will include half-hour noon services on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by lunch in the Fellowship and Education Building. We hope you will join us.

On Maundy Thursday, we remember the night when Jesus first celebrated the Eucharist with His followers and then journeyed to Gethsemane where He is arrested by Judas and the royal guards. This year we are trying something different for our Maundy Thursday worship. The services will take place in homes throughout Austin. Starting at 6 p.m. that evening, we will gather with about 20 people in homes around the city for fellowship, a potluck dinner and a brief celebration of Communion led by an ordained pastor or elder. Some homes will be designated “child friendly” and our hope is that this evening will see all the ages and stages of our congregation engaging with God and one another. You can sign up on our website in the very near future. We will be back in the Sanctuary for worship on Good Friday at 7 p.m. The week ends with our Easter services on Sunday morning! Also, circle your calendars for the Sunday after Easter, April 8, when we hope everyone in the Covenant family will join us for one of our four worship services. This will be an exciting and critical day as we unroll our plans for where Covenant has been and some updates of where we are headed in the future. This is a day you do not want to miss! Friends, God is doing a great work in and through our congregation. I am grateful to be on the journey with each and every one of you! Joyfully,

Thomas Daniel Senior Pastor

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{ FROM THE LEAD}

Greetings to all as we begin to warm up after a chilly winter. The Session had a few busy months. In November, we had our annual combined gathering with the Deacons and staff, and then had a separate meeting of our own. Session discussed the 2018 budget and considered Rachael McConnell’s request to be an inquirer to be ordained. In our PC(USA) ordination process, a person who wants to explore a call to ordination must be under the care of a congregation and meet a number of requirements at the Presbytery level. The Session was delighted to hear Rachael’s faith story and accept her as an inquirer. Rachael holds an MDiv from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and serves on Covenant’s Children and Family Ministry staff. In December, Session approached the 2018 budget adoption as a spiritual exercise, keeping in mind the four prongs of pledges, committee feedback, the capital campaign and the Institute for Missional Formation (IMF). IMF was introduced during the capital campaign, our campaign aimed at reducing the debt. After extended discussion on the Institute as well as a proposal for spending on missions, Session approved the budget. Thomas Daniel also shared the status and prospects for New Covenant Fellowship and asked Session to think about how Covenant might honor the late pastor James Lee’s legacy and his relationship with our congregation. Due to Austin’s “Snow-pocalypse,” the January meeting was cancelled. We addressed a few timely matters through evotes, but most items were rolled forward to the February meeting. In February, we received a report from the Personnel Committee on the evaluation of the Senior Pastor. Each person on the Covenant staff is evaluated by his or her immediate supervisor, and Thomas Daniel has the joy of being evaluated by the 15 Session members. During this evaluation, Session provides feedback as Thomas creates goals and plans for the future of his ministry.

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The Session also discussed plans for Maundy Thursday house worship. We approved active elders to preside over communion in homes that night. In lieu of a worship service at Covenant, members and friends will share a fellowship meal and communion at homes across Austin. One of our goals is to increase participation in this Holy Week service. Finally, Session received a report from Duane Dube, COO, and a Finance Committee recommendation to apply the 2017 budget surplus to debt reduction. The capital campaign will conclude at the end of 2018, and if the pledges come through as made, Covenant will be very close to being debt-free on the Fellowship and Education Building. One of the joys of the Session is receiving and welcoming new members. In November, we welcomed the youth in the confirmation class into membership. Over the last few months, we have seen Covenant’s active membership grow from 1,575 to 1,620. Thanks be to God!

By Melanie Williamson Clerk of Session

FINANCIAL UPDATE January 31, 2018

General Fund (YTD) Offering Receipts: $511,861 Budgeted Offering: $410,616 Difference: -$101,245 Actual Expenses: $236,264 Budgeted Expenses: $285,793 Difference: -$49,529 Building Fund Total Loan Balance: $1,193,617 Principal Reduction YTD: $10,833

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SESSION UPDATE


{ FEATURES}

God Did This

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e didn’t even know where Cambodia was,” Thais Kilday said upon her family’s return from living in Phnom Penh for a year. “We had to go look at a map to see that it was next to Vietnam and Thailand,” she explained.

A year later and now well educated about Cambodia and the surrounding region, the Kilday family has returned. What a year it was! Thais and Doug both had major impacts on helping innocent people get freed from slavery, and — along with their children Naeda, Lincoln and David — they grew in their faith, as a family and as people. Both Kildays are quick to give the glory to God. “We didn’t do this,” Doug said, presenting at Covenant on a Wednesday night in January. “All of us together did this and God did this.” Doug kicked off the short presentation with a little background on the International Justice Mission (IJM) for which he and Thais worked. IJM is the largest international anti-slavery organization in the

Photo: IJM

world. The organization works to free more than 40 million people who are in slavery. “There are more people in slavery than at any other time in history,” Doug said. “It is a $150 billion industry. That’s more than the annual profits of Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Exxon and BP combined.” Thais took over to explain that IJM addresses slavery through a four-step model. The organization works to rescue victims, restrain and prosecute criminals, restore survivors ­­— Thais explained that IJM “comes alongside the survivor, helping them find a place to live, a job and more” — and reform the justice system.

The State of Cambodia

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oug and Thais explained how Cambodia became a hub for trafficking. Once considered one of the loveliest French built cities in Southeast Asia, Cambodia, during the Vietnam War, had more bombs dropped on it than were dropped in all of World War II. A Cambodian genocide, carried out by Cambodian Cornerstone | March - May | Lent/Eastertide

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{ FEATURES} communists, the Khmer Rouge between 1975-1978, resulted in educated people being forced out of the city to do difficult labor on rural farms (BBC.com). Cambodians returned to the city when the Vietnamese drove out the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Yet Cambodia’s numerous past conflicts with Vietnam left Cambodians with mixed emotions about this liberation. When dictator Pol Pot died in 1998, the government began to stabilize. Cambodia was left with massive poverty, and many cases of PTSD and trauma, with the average household income of about $1,000 per year. Doug said that today, Phnom Penh is a growing, bustling metropolis. “There are more construction cranes in Phnom Penh than I’ve ever seen in Austin,” Doug said. “Throughout the city, you can see the poverty, and also income inequality.” Doug described the living conditions. “Outside of the city, people live in little huts. They are very comfortable homes for the people who live there. They are all on stilts, and the people actually catch fish underneath their houses.” But 80 percent of Cambodians don’t have sanitation and another 60 percent are without electricity. Needless to say, those stuck in seemingly endless poverty

get desperate trying to provide for their families. Lured by the false promise of making money to support their families, many Cambodians are taken to boats and forced to work 20-plus hours a day or sent to be maids in Malaysia. They are trafficked as brides or sent to factory jobs in China, or agree to work to pay off hospital bills for loved ones. “Two million people are vulnerable to trafficking in Cambodia,” Doug said.

The Kildays Work at IJM

“We didn’t know what we were getting into, but God really did put us in the right place to use the skills that we could bring,” Thais said.

Doug was eager to illustrate how Thais’ skills were put to work. Upon being hired, Doug told Peter Williams, the IJM field office director, that Thais would be the more valuable Kilday. “That turned out to be true!” Doug said. On her first day on the job, Peter asked Thais to create a tool to help him manage all the cases in the office. In explaining her assignment, Peter said, “I know that we’ve got lots of cases and I hear about the ones that are busy this week, but I worry that I might be missing something.” “Thais created something brand new,” Doug explained. “She went to each person in the office to learn everyone’s story and hear what they were working on. She talked with staff members over several weeks, and created a colorcoded list. Cases were red, yellow or green. “Thais helped to build a mentality of staying ahead of things, and staying on task and on track. Throughout the course of the year, the staff figured out how to build the metrics into their own daily

The Kildays saw “the craziest things” on motos. Photo: Kristen Sturdivant/Unsplash

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work. One staff member said Thais’ work was ‘transformational’ and it really was.”

ficking victory in Cambodia. Over the course of the year, this team had eight trials, resulting in 18 convictions.

Doug explained that all employees hired by the IJM office had to be Christian, and be able to speak, read and write two languages, but he said the workers “did not come from a critical thinking education system. Thais introduced new ways of thinking and doing things through her assignment.”

Some of IJM’s work had the support of Wal-Mart, Thais added. “We buy a lot of food that is prepared by slaves. IJM is working to demonstrate a model that works to get a clean supply chain.” Both Kildays were grateful to God for the role they were able to play. “We felt like we had a front-row seat to a divine production where actual miracles happened. And every now and then, there was some audience participation, so we got to play a small part,” Doug said.

Turns out Doug did the same. The office had just shifted from prosecuting child trafficking to labor trafficking. It no longer worked for IJM employees to follow the same set of rules and do their jobs in the same way. Doug was able to help shift staff members away from their checklist mentality, encouraging them to ask: ‘How do we look at this problem? How do we do these kinds of things?’

Japan and other places, the family saw many different cultures and recognized the level of civil and political freedoms that we enjoy in America. Their journeys led to family discussions. “I talked to the boys about how we understand other people’s truth. We were able to go to another place, meet new people and ask what their story is,” Thais said. “We got to get outside of ourselves and really see other people. “By going to another part of the world and spending time there, it changed the way we see people and even the way we see our groups back home.”

Family Time

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he Kilday kids are now 15, 12 and 9. The move meant they would be in a new school and live in a much smaller place. They would also have to leave family (grandparents Ev and Kay Davenport live across the street), friends and the dog in Austin.

Doug embraced these skills, Thais said, pointing to an example. “Doug went out to the provinces on a fact-finding trip. Once they arrived, they learned that the survivors they’d been sent to depose had already met with the investigating judge. They’d told their stories on the record so our lawyers didn’t have to interview them. Since they were already there, Doug wanted to talk with them.”

Naeda, the eldest, was halfway through her eighth grade year and would miss the first semester of high school. “I didn’t want to go at all. I wanted to stay here,” Naeda said. “But I got a lot closer to my family. I made friends with people I never thought I would be friends with. I saw what really matters in the world. Brands don’t matter. Material things don’t matter. You don’t need those things to be happy.”

That information proved valuable. The conversations that Doug was able to have resulted in a rescue operation that brought three people out of slavery and provided leads for other cases. Doug was also part of IJM’s first labor traf-

Through the Kildays’ year in Cambodia and their travels to China,

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{ FEATURES} The kids all attended Hope International School, a Christian school, grades 1-12, that welcomed kids from 30 countries. Lincoln, who is 12, said that each grade level had two classes. “School was a lot harder,” Naeda said. “School was weird,” nine-year old David said, “because you had friends from all over the world – some from England, some from Korea. Eventually when I go to England, I can call my friend Toby and say, ‘Hey! Can I stay at your house?’ Everyday sights in Cambodia proved fascinating. “One time I saw a moto with five people on the back!” nine-year-old David said. Doug laughed, “We saw the craziest things on the backs of motos. I once saw seven people. They carry live chickens, ducks, pigs. “There are no places to walk,” Doug added. “Pedestrians come last. You end up walking in the street with oncoming traffic. Everyone just avoids each other, Somehow, nobody gets killed.”

not?!) Doug said, “I grew in my faith tremendously. Part of IJM’s work obligation is that from 8:30 to 9 every morning, it is your job to be in quiet solitude and stillness. You can pray, read the Bible, journal. It’s part of your job. You’re expected to do it. “When working for IJM in Cambodia and you’re reading the Bible about Moses and Exodus and freeing the captives from bondage, it took on a different, new and enriched meaning deep down in my soul,” Doug said. The Kildays will see all their IJM friends and colleagues soon. IJM will celebrate 20 years of antislavery work around the world, hosting an event called Liberate in Dallas on Sept. 28-29. This global gathering will include all of IJM’s staff and others who are passionate about ending slavery. Interested Covenant members should talk to Doug or Thais about the event. “We are so excited that we didn’t have to say goodbye,” Doug said. “We got to say, ‘see you in Texas next fall.’” While the Kildays were able to travel halfway across the world to make a difference, there are many ways to be part of positive change. Doug told those at the presentation: “Listen for God’s call on your life. It could mean IJM; it could mean something here. Listen for how God might be using you in your personal life and your professional life.”

Office snacks were also curious. “There’s a lot of peer pressure on the Westerners to try crickets,” Doug said. “They are good and salty and taste just like potato chips. I also tried frog, moose and donkey.” “They don’t waste food,” said Thais. “They put whole chicken in your soup—the head, the beak. If you can chew it or swallow it without chewing, it’s food and you can eat it.” “Yeah,” said Lincoln. “One time we were at a restaurant and you could see a whole chicken head in my soup!” The Kildays all grew over the year. (How could you 7

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By Stephanie Schultz Director of Communications


{ LIFE GUIDE}

COMMUNITY LIFE GUIDE “For that short time, when we gather as God’s guests at God’s table, the Church becomes what it is meant to be ­— a community of strangers who have become guests together and are listening together to the invitation of God.” - Rowan Williams “Every time you eat of the bread and drink from the cup, you do so in remembrance of me,” Jesus told His disciples, sharing bread and wine in the Upper Room on the night of His arrest. One might reasonably wonder precisely what it is we are to remember. The obvious answer is that each time we eat the bread and drink from the cup, we remember Christ’s sacrifice for us. This memory calls forth gratitude and hope for God’s provision of salvation for a sinful world. The other thing we are to remember is that Jesus

created community wherever he went. As Rowan Williams observes, communion helps us remember that Jesus wants our company. It doesn’t take long to figure out that to be in the company of Jesus means to be in the company of everyone else Jesus invites to be a guest at his table. In the church calendar, Maundy Thursday marks when we remember that intimate night of fellowship between Jesus and His disciples. Just as Jesus shared His table with His first disciples, He shares it with us here and now. This year for Maundy Thursday, we will offer our worship in a unique way and remember that the table creates a new community in which Christ is the center. To this end, we will gather for a potluck dinner in homes throughout Austin. The pastors and elders will serve communion, and we will connect as Christ’s community.

The Last Supper, Juan de Juanes, oil on panel, 45 × 75 in., 1560

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{ LIFE GUIDE}

Holy Week Palm Sunday March 25

8:15, 9:30 and 11 a.m. Traditional in the Sanctuary 11:05 a.m Contemporary in FE 200 Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and marks the start of Holy Week, the final days of His earthly ministry. As Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, people laid down their cloaks and palm branches in front of Him, hoping He was the earthly king through whom they believed they would be saved. On Palm Sunday, GraceNotes and our children’s choirs will sing musical selections from the words of Psalms 118:25-26: Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday March 26, 27, 28

Noon in the Sanctuary Join us every day at noon in the Sanctuary as we follow Jesus’ journey to the cross as told in the Gospel of Matthew. A light lunch will follow in FE 200.

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{ LIFE GUIDE} { LIFE GUIDE}

Maundy Thursday March 29

6 - 8 p.m. in homes around Austin. Sign up at covenant.org/maundythursday2018 We will remember Jesus’ last evening with His disciples in homes across Austin with a casual evening of fellowship, potluck dinners and communion on Thursday, March 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. This is a family event, with certain homes designated as kid-friendly. Join us to celebrate Maundy Thursday with our Covenant community in this special way.

Good Friday March 30

Tenebrae Worship Service 7 p.m. in the Sanctuary This service marks the death of Jesus Christ. It is called good because of what Jesus’ death means for the redemption of the world. Tenebrae is Latin for darkness. Historically, there was no sermon, no prayer in Jesus’ name, no offering, and no benediction. The service, a prolonged meditation on Christ’s suffering, is left unfinished because it is not over until Easter Day, making it the longest service of the Christian calendar. As the service proceeds, the room changes from light to darkness to symbolize Christ’s suffering.

Easter Sunday April 1

6:30 a.m. Sunrise service on the patio 8, 9:30 and 11 a.m. Traditional in the Sanctuary 9:30 and 11 a.m Contemporary in FE 200

Join us as we celebrate this most important event in human history—the day on which Christ was raised from the dead. Since Christ is raised, we too hope in resurrection. Hot breakfast sandwiches and coffee will be served on the patio between the end of the sunrise service and 8 a.m. service. Join us to celebrate this most important event in our Christian history. Cornerstone | March - May | Lent/Eastertide

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{ LIFE GUIDE}

Why Fast? “We must be prepared to give up some things if we intend to get things that are even more important.” - Joan Chittister

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e are well into Lent, and its sacred rhythms and disciplines. For centuries, Christians have practiced the discipline of fasting during Lent. Fasting is an imitation of Christ’s own 40 days in the wilderness where He met the temptations of greed, idolatry and domination with the power of the Spirit. This holy experience must be what the author of Hebrews referred to when reminding us that he was tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Whether you’ve kept your Lenten fast or not, here are a few reasons why fasting is an important practice beyond Lent: 1) Fasting is an expression of our whole person in response to God’s grace. Fasting reminds us that our bodies (and what we do with them) matter just as much as our souls to God. 2) Fasting teaches us that we are dependent creatures. We are not the author of our own lives. Just as we depend upon food and water to sustain our physical bodies and keep us healthy, we also must depend upon the Spirit of God to lead us into the life that really is life (I Timothy 6.19). 3) Fasting interrupts our patterns of self-satisfaction and self-indulgence. There is more to our lives than getting what we want. 4) Fasting helps us practice saying no to ourselves. In a world of self-gratification, saying no to our desires enables us to better obey Christ’s call to deny ourselves and follow him.

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{ LIFE GUIDE}

Teaching Children

How to Budget

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he word “budget” has an image problem. Most people view budgeting as a restrictive process that ruins all their fun. I see it as an opportunity to spend money thoughtfully on the things that really matter to you, and to stop spending so much darn money on the things that don’t. Spending thoughtfully is critical in order to build (and maintain) a strong financial foundation and is a key piece of spiritual growth.

Our children have grown up around excesses that most of us did not have, which means they are going to be tempted to spend, spend, spend. Here are some tips for giving your children some budget wisdom:

Start where they are

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or younger children, talking to them about grown-up numbers is likely to be overwhelming. Using the word “budget” is probably too much! Instead, give them little opportunities to budget in real life. We have found road trips provide great opportunities for giving children budget experience. Often when we go on a road trip, we give the kids a small allowance for souvenirs, perhaps $5-10. They can choose to spend the money on souvenirs at any point in the trip. It’s a little more record-keeping for us when one spends $2 at one stop and $3 at a different stop, but it allows children as young as five an opportunity to make spending decisions all on their own instead of relying on us to decide which moments really speak to them.

Make giving mandatory

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art of spending thoughtfully means acknowledging that everything we have comes from God. Gratitude and tithing are a vitally important part of the discussion and a necessary discipline to teach kids. For younger kids, paying their allowance in coins makes it easier to divide their funds into tithing, saving and spending.

Give them practice

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s children get older, they will need more experience using a budget. We give our nine-year old a budget for her clothing for each season. This allows her to decide whether she is going to buy some brand-name clothes or if she’d rather do a little bargain shopping. While the parents still retain veto power, she gets a good dose of freedom to dress how she’d like to dress and spend more in areas where we might not. It also eliminates a lot of discussions at the store; she knows she gets that budget twice a year and anything in between is on her dime. Cornerstone | March - May | Lent/Eastertide

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Spread it out

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s children get closer to graduating from high school, they should get more experience with making their money last for longer periods of time. While a six-year-old may get a weekly allowance, a 16-year-old should receive their allowance monthly. This forces them to budget…or fail. If they run out of money in week two, then they may be a little more likely to conserve next month. Since most jobs do not pay weekly, this helps them get used to a real-life scenario.

Let them fail

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his is my very favorite piece of parenting advice! Kids feel better about themselves when they buckle down and solve their own problems. When your child runs out of money in week two and has to go a couple of weeks without allowance, will you pay for them to go to the dance? Give them gas money? Step in and rescue them? No! Stay strong! Remember when you were younger and out of money? What’d you do? My guess is you figured it out — mowed the lawn for a neighbor, sold an old Walkman that you didn’t use any more (I’m assuming you all grew up when I did in this example) or borrowed from that one sibling who always had money in their piggy bank. Since you were a teenager, you probably spent more time thinking about how unfair life is than you did about how solving your own problems was giving you self-confidence, but trust me, that’s what it was doing. Don’t rob your kids of that opportunity! Rather than sitting down with a spreadsheet and calculator to give kids The Talk (the budget talk, that is), teaching your children how to budget should be an ongoing process. Watching them grow in their ability to be good stewards will be well worth the effort!

Megan Poore is a Financial Advisor at Lucien, Stirling and Gray Advisory Group, Inc., in Austin, Texas, and loves to talk about budgeting, which keeps her in high demand on the cocktail party circuit. She is chair of the Covenant Presbyterian Foundation. For more information about Covenant Presbyterian Foundation, please visit covenant.org/foundation or contact Duane Dube or any Trustee: Elizabeth Christian, Everard Davenport, Larry Faulkner, Megan Poore, Helene Maham, Kristin Schell and Scott Ream. Covenant Presbyterian Foundation supports Covenant Presbyterian Church by assisting donors to be faithful to generations, during and beyond their own lives, by receiving and growing their gifts, and using them to help fulfill the donors’ glorification of God.

One generation will commend your works to another

- Psalm 145:4

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stLicOkVyE { LIFE}

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ighty-three couples signed up for Covenant’s marriage workshop in late January. Led by Atlanta couple Todd and Beverly Sandel, the goal was for couples to find a different, healthier, more joyful place. Couples would not waste any time moving toward that place. The session was billed as a “date night.” Participants were required to have a dinner reservation to attend the workshop, and would take away some conversation starters to spur meaningful discussion during dinner. Todd and Beverly have been married 18 years and have four kids between the ages of 8 and 15. “We are wrestling with marriage, just like you,” said Todd, a marriage and family therapist, and life coach at LifeGate Group in Atlanta. As an example, Todd described a recent 13-hour family road trip. “Beverly and I had about two hours worth of conversation reporting what was going on in our lives. Then I felt bored. So we created courageous conversations.” Todd and Beverly Sandel

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{ LIFE} He explained: “It’s easy to disconnect when we live life. So we will give you some of these questions to start conversation and dialog.” Before delving into the material, both the Sandels and Senior Pastor Thomas Daniel told some horror stories about marriage workshops. “We had been married three or four years when some friends invited us to a marriage workshop,” Thomas said. “First thing they do is to tell the husbands to look at their wives and explain why hunting and fishing is a big deal for men. Then, they said the wives should tell their husbands why they are passionate about shopping. We immediately knew it was not our conference.” Thomas, therefore, was not eager to meet Todd when a friend suggested the introduction. “Great,” thought Thomas, “another guy who guilts and shames people about their marriage. I can’t wait to meet him. “But I met Todd, and got to know him as a person, as a person of faith and as a husband.” Thomas estimated that about 80 percent of the people in his former church, Kairos, interacted with Todd at LifeGate. “Todd and Beverly had an enormous impact on the people at our church. I’m glad that I broke through the barriers to meet him because it changed a lot of lives.” That Saturday afternoon in Austin, Todd and Beverly were again ready to help change lives.

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To an audience of a wide range of ages and duration of marriages (the longest married couple at the workshop was 44 years in; the shortest, eight months), they told the group to remember when they first met their spouse. “You get married and you’re so full of hope for this project to grow together with your spouse and grow closer to the Lord,” Beverly said, quoting John 10:10: I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance.

“Live life abundantly, that’s how God designed marriage,” Beverly said. “God didn’t design marriage to be okay. We destroy that piece by piece. We lose the joy. Who is the person that lifted you up enough for you to say ‘yes, I’ll marry you? I’m totally ready.’” Todd and Beverly told participants to remember when they first met. “What was the captivating draw? What was the gravitational pull toward that person?” Todd asked. The couple then talked about the three biggest causes of drift. Topping the list was the hurriedness

Cornerstone | March - May | Lent/Eastertide

of life. Todd explained that this is “the frenetic pace of life that we are living. There is a busy-ness phenomenon in our world right now. The number one emotion Americans feel is exhaustion.” Beverly called on participants to think about what is actual hurry and what is perceived hurry. “Busy is an external condition,” Beverly said. “If we don’t have ways to settle our souls, busy can turn into an internal problem called hurry, resulting in distractedness and restlessness.” The second issue causing drift is personal differences. “Different doesn’t mean wrong,” Todd said. Beverly gave an example of a vast difference between the Sandels. It was years ago when their eldest had just turned three and Todd wanted to take him down a ridiculously fast and dangerous hill on a tube in Salt Lake City. (This is from Beverly’s perspective. Todd thought it would just be great fun.) Beverly was very worried and let Todd know. Todd didn’t back down and after the tubing adventure, the couple had a hard time communicating that day. Each party felt “right and entitled” to their opinion, Todd said, “and this brings up the third reason for drift: power struggles.” Power struggles create distance and hostility instead of closeness and trust. But in this instance, when the couple finally talked about it, Beverly had softened, telling Todd, “your kids are lucky to have a dad like you.”


{ LIFE} “That’s why difference is powerful. God knew what he was doing when he put people with differences together. Differences are the opportunity for us to be greater together,” Beverly said. “I hate it that I’m too frightened to do something like that. Todd doesn’t have that fear. Our kids feel safe and secure, and that gives them the freedom to take risks.” Acknowledging the challenges of being married, couples need to introduce ways to guard against drift. Todd and Beverly had some pointers. First, they said to recapture the sticky. “My first question as a marriage counselor is: ‘What formed your bond and why did it stick?’” Todd said. “It’s all about bond-building. God created us to attach. How did you get sticky? What activities did you do together? What behaviors did you see early in your relationship? What trips did you take? How did you form the sticky, the adhesive? “Recollect those behaviors because that’s still you,” Todd said. Beverly said when she turned 40, she told Todd she wanted to get their sticky back. She proposed 40 dates.

“She called me out,” Todd said. “We’d been doing really cool stuff as a family. She basically said, ‘I want to be pursued again. I want to get sticky.’” Beverly suggested participants do the same thing and advised, “Be wildly creative! Try to recapture the behaviors and the mindset and the creativity you had when you first met. What were some of the fun ways you built your closeness as a couple?” she asked. Second, the couple said to rebuild a daily connection. This is time for just the two of you to connect. The Sandels have little extra time, but found five minutes after Todd’s early morning run before their kids wake up. During those five minutes, the couple asks each other, “How can I pray for you today?” Todd said that this enables him to not just to check in with Beverly during the day, but to ask specific questions. “This is a powerful, really cool way to connect.” Finally the couple said to reclaim the bedroom, explaining that intimacy is a celebration of emotional closeness. “There’s importance to this sequence,” Beverly said. “Pursue each other, build rituals that keep you tethered and then reclaim the bedroom.”

Three Causes of Drift: Hurriedness of Life Personal Differences Power Struggles

Date Night Questions:

Key Questions: What was it about your spouse that captivated your heart when you first met? Where is hurry blocking your connection as a couple right now? What are a few differences in your personalities that tend to create the most power struggles lately? How might this link to drift in your connection as a couple?

What were some of the fun ways we built our sense of closeness as a couple when we were dating? How can we intentionally recapture that energy now? Challenge: Design a new intentional strategy for creating stickiness this year (daily, weekly, monthly) Cornerstone | March - May | Lent/Eastertide

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{ COMMUNITY}

A Quiet Transformation hen my kids were babies we lived in Washington, D.C. My husband took our car to work each day so the kids and I did a lot of walking in our neighborhood. On our walks I would frequently pass by a church in our neighborhood with a sign out front that said: “God is still speaking. Are you listening?”

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had a different way of talking. These birds are always talking to each other in their individual, mysterious bird languages. They weren’t doing anything different from what they normally do. I just had ears to hear them that day. In my normal life, I never would have stopped long enough to hear each individual chirp.

The sign always prompted me to pause and listen for God. For about two seconds…until my daughter dropped her favorite stuffed animal on the sidewalk or my son’s demands for a sippy cup pierced my moment of silence.

God is speaking, but the white noise of my daily life drowns out His voice. Taking the time to be quiet and alone with God is how we hear Him best.

Fast-forward to present day. Those babies in the stroller are in middle school now. God is still speaking. Am I listening? When the opportunity to go on one of Covenant’s silent retreats presented itself, I resisted at first. I can’t possibly give up an entire school day for something so unproductive. I am a list maker, a bullet journaler, a productivity enthusiast. I like to stack tasks one on top of each other and see how many things I can possibly do simultaneously. Giving up a day to sit and be quiet and not accomplish something sounded like it would only serve to put me further behind on my list of to-dos. Nope, can’t possibly do that. But then I felt nudged by a few different friends who encouraged me to give the silent retreat a try. I decided maybe those nudges were significant. Maybe God was speaking. Maybe I needed to listen. I am so glad I did. The silent retreat was such a gift. I read the Bible in a sustained, uninterrupted way that I never make time to do in my everyday life. I took notes in my journal, I prayed, I read some more. I went on a 23rd Psalm nature walk. Experiencing these very familiar verses in this new way brought me to tears. I listened. I noticed a bird chirping. And then noticed a different bird chirping, then several more. Each one 17

Cornerstone | March - May | Lent/Eastertide

In his book The Way of the Heart, Henri Nouwen writes about our quiet time with God as a place of conversion, “the place where the old self dies and the new self is born.” Nouwen writes that silence forces us to get rid of our scaffolding (talking to friends, our phones, social media, work, etc.) and present ourselves naked and vulnerable to God. This can feel uncomfortable, which is why we tend to avoid doing it. But if we push through this discomfort, there is transformation. And this transformation is how we experience God’s peace and renewal. It’s through silence that we invite God into our lives to restore and refresh our tired souls. The silent retreat made me hungry for more of these quiet moments with God. Whether it is through a Covenant silent retreat or something you do on your own, I wholeheartedly encourage you to make time to listen to God. He is speaking. He wants to speak individually to each one of us. He wants us to put down our phones, turn off the noise all around us, close our eyes, and be transformed by the peace and grace that only He can whisper in our ears. All we have to do is listen. Covenant will offer more opportunities for silent retreats. Watch Covenant Matters for details. by Elizabeth McBride


{ COMMUNITY}

E

Flashes of Hope

ric Blake, a meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, reported on Sept. 16 that a storm would hit Puerto Rico and it would likely be a Category 3, 4 or 5 “major hurricane� making a direct hit on the island on or about Sept. 20. While many Covenant members were watching the forecast, aware of recent hurricanes that had hit parts of Florida and wreaked havoc on Houston and other areas of Texas in late August, one member was watching far more closely. Evangeline Herring grew up in Puerto Rico. Her mother and brother still live in San Juan. Needless to say, Evangeline was worried.

The damaged La Perla neighborhood. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

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{ COMMUNITY} “We had Hurricane Irma,” she said, “and that went to the north side of Puerto Rico and my family lost power for four days. Power came back and then, Maria hit. They were ready. They had food, water, everything they needed to survive for two weeks.” During the storm, Evangeline said her family, which includes several cousins, aunts, uncles and more, communicated through Whatsapp. (With Whatsapp, users share messages with groups of people.) “The storm started at 1 in the morning,” Evangeline said, “My family talked about how the noise was so loud and things were flying everywhere. I knew they were fine because they were all typing out messages. “But around 6 a.m., communication stopped,” Evangeline said. “That’s when the hurricane entered the island. For about four hours. I didn’t hear anything. I was freaking out!”

to hit Puerto Rico in 80 years. It knocked out 80 percent of the island’s power transmission lines.

Messaging, monitoring the weather and viewing the initial recovery from Austin, Evangeline felt helpless. “I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know how to help. I knew I couldn’t send any packages. People kept asking me how they could help, but I just didn’t know how.”

Weather reports across the Internet tell the story: “It was as if a 50- to 60-mile-wide tornado raged across Puerto Rico, like a buzz saw,” Jeff Weber, a meteorologist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, reported. “It’s almost as strong as a hurricane can get in a direct hit.”

Puerto Rico’s Worst Hurricane Season

Help is on the Way

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uerto Rico experienced one of its worst hurricane seasons on record in 2017. Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm, clipped the island on Sept. 7 and left 1 million people without power.

Evangeline learned that her cousins and her aunts were fine. They got back on the app and wrote, “This is so scary. We’re in the bathroom. Things are flying everywhere. The windows are going to explode!”

Maria, a slightly smaller storm, charted a course directly over the island, making it far more devastating. It hit Puerto Rico near its peak intensity, passing about 25 miles away from San Juan, the capital and home to about 400,000 people. Maria was the fifth strongest storm ever to hit the U.S., and the strongest storm

But she didn’t communicate with her mom for a week. (During that time, Evangeline learned her mother was fine via her cousins.) Her mother’s area of town was hit hard, and she later told Evangeline, “When I looked outside at noon, I couldn’t see the house 19

across from me because it was so dark and so many things were flying around.”

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ith no solid plan of how to help, Evangeline went to the post office. Workers there told her she could send packages. She mailed batteries and food. And she finally talked to her mom.

“She was very positive,” Evangeline said. “She had food and said she had just made an amazing rice dish with SPAM.” But a few days later, Evangeline’s mom reported that the food was

Cornerstone | March - May | Lent/Eastertide


{ COMMUNITY} running low and there was nothing at the store. Evangeline harnessed the power of Facebook. She posted a message letting her friends know she intended to send supplies to Puerto Rico: “After reading information about

the US postal service, and how it is working right now in Puerto Rico, it is time to send packages. Many of you have asked me, how can you help? Well, if you trust me, and I know many of you do, you can send money to my PayPal account. With that money I will buy some of the main necessities they are needing right now. Batteries, battery operated fans, solar power battery chargers, and some dry food like pasta and rice. All these items will be distributed among some family members and neighbors. Anything will help. Thanks for supporting my loved ones.” The response was amazing! “I was expecting $300 or $400. But in the first hour, I had $800! And in about two weeks, I got $4,000!” Evangeline said. After initially sending supplies, Evangeline sent the money to her cousin through PayPal. Family members went to Costco in San Juan, bought nonperishable food items and then drove to help those in the center of the island, which was hit by the eye of the hurricane. They also contacted the Catholic Church, which had taken a census to find all the people living alone. The Church was distributing food to these folks. Evangeline’s family also helped.

Photos: Auri Coira and Carmen Coira

Cornerstone | March - May | Lent/Eastertide

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{ COMMUNITY}

Biggest Needs are Intangible

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vangeline has a half-sister who lives in the center of the island. Though the relationship is strained, she called Evangeline’s family, desperate for water and food for her and her two daughters, 15 and 5. Evangeline’s mother and brother drove to her town, found her, and gave her the much-needed water and food. But it wasn’t the supplies that made the difference, according to Evangeline. “When my mom hugged her, she broke down. My half-sister called me and said, ‘I am very thankful for the food, but what I needed was a hug from someone that I love.’” Evangeline was touched by the story.

“People need food; people need water, money, but people need a hug and love and to know that you have people you can hold on to.”

At the same time, Evangeline finally broke. “I was trying to be strong and pretend that I was fine. I was trying to keep it together in front of people. There was a moment that I had to let myself say ‘I’m not okay.’ I was tired of pretending; I didn’t have the strength to be strong anymore.” Evangeline felt much better after showing her true emotions. “I felt like God was holding me and my friends were holding me. When all that money started coming in, I felt loved and special, and saw how many people care about me and care about helping others.” Today, as Puerto Rico continues a very long process of digging out, Evangeline is optimistic about the future of her childhood home. “Puerto Rico is going to stand up again — day by day, little by little. Some people said we needed to pass through this period to remember to talk to each other, to spend time with each other, to sit outside.” (It was so hot inside after the storm without air conditioning that people started sitting outside again and seeing their neighbors.) Evangeline said the youth of Puerto Rico rose to the occasion. “We think they are always on their phones and computers, but it was the youth who were out giving away food and clearing roads. One friend said her son would stand in a three-hour supermarket line so she could do other things. Many have said they have seen the youth do things they never thought they would.” News reports continue to tell of all the people leaving Puerto Rico, the storm a catalyst to their departures. In early February, about a third of the population was still without power. Despite the challenges, others are staying, eager to help make the island better than before. Evangeline’s family members are among those staying. They remain positive and thankful for what they have.

By Stephanie Schultz Director of Communications Back row: Evangeline, her brother Manuel Faria and mother Vangie Cintrn. Her sister Emil Faria, seated in front, lives in the US.

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Cornerstone | March - May | Lent/Eastertide


Worth the Drive A.V. Ootsey

first visited Covenant at Christmastime in 2009. Even though he had driven by the church for nearly two decades on his way to work at Wight Engineering, he didn’t even notice it until he was invited to come. That first day, A.V. sat down next to Burton Eubanks. The two chatted and at the end of the service. Burton invited him back. “I felt comfortable. I felt a warmth. I started coming back, and that feeling continued. People just kept saying, ‘welcome!’” After meeting Burton, A.V.’s circle grew quickly. “Burton introduced me to his group. Then he said that they all come for dinner on Wednesday. All of a sudden, I was coming to Wednesday night dinner.

“I’ve been to many, many churches. I never felt the warmth that I felt at this church. It’s like somebody took me by the hand and said, ‘Let’s walk this journey together.’”

{ COMMUNITY}

It wasn’t long (probably not even as long as it’s taken readers to get this far into this article) before A.V. was giving back. He ushers every other month and he’s a deacon. “I’ve been ushering almost since day one,” A.V. said. “I knew Dave Mead from ushering at the University, and he asked me right away to help out.” As A.V. and I chatted on a cold VISIONS Seniors Activity Day, his friends kept coming by, providing more information. “There’s a reason people know you!” said Billy Fay Grayson. “You’re so involved!” “He’s great at calling Bingo,” said George McDonald. “A.V. is my favorite. Make him tell you more stories,” Ophelia Russell said. Early last summer, A.V. moved to Temple to be near family. (He has five kids!) Despite the 60-minute commute, A.V. is still at Covenant several times a week, although he has given up the 6 a.m. Men in the Word class. “When I retired, I said I wouldn’t get up that early again. Skip Crowe talked me into joining that group and I really enjoyed getting to know the men, especially in the small group time. “Structure impresses me,” A.V. said, crediting his military background. A.V. served in the United States Air Force for 30 years, retiring with the rank of Chief Master Sergeant. “This denomination has structure.” And there is much more for A.V. that gets him on the road several days a week. “I am fascinated by how this church functions. When I say church, I mean the people. There is a cohesiveness in this congregation you don’t normally see. It’s been a blessing. I get a lot of comfort from being here.”

Cornerstone | March - May | Lent/Eastertide

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{ COMMUNITY}

HELLO NEW Kay Arms

Kim & Jason Belew

Jon & Mary Jane Berry

Ann & Eddie Burns

Jordan & Wheeler Cain

Kristine & Jim Eskew

Debbie & John Fincher

Jane & John Harris

Erica & Tyler Mann

Christian & Mike Meyer

Katie Netherton

Phillip Lewis

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W MEMBERS! Karen & Beau Osborne

Ruth & Gary Pelphrey

Will & Cora Rodenbusch

Geneva Ross

Sandra Segrest

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hirty-one people joined Covenant this winter after completing the Explore Membership class. Visitor and New Member Coordinator Amy Skaggs said, “The class was a great intergenerational group eager to get connected at Covenant. Some are interested in small groups, VISIONS, joining committees and more! I think they’ll be active members.” Cora Rodenbusch, who attended class with her husband Will, said, “The new membership class at Covenant Presbyterian exceeded our expectations! The weekly classes were friendly and welcoming, perfect for getting to know the church and finding out how we can plug into the Covenant community. The highlight for me was getting to personally meet the pastoral staff.”

New member Christian Meyer appreciated the content. “The new member class gave me the opportunity to delve deeper into the many aspects of the church from basic Presbyterian beliefs to the numerous outreach programs,” Christian said. “It also provided a safe, relaxed and friendly environment to learn and meet other prospective members, members and the pastoral staff in a more intimate setting. I can’t wait to get more plugged in, and see where God takes me.” If you are interested in learning more about Covenant and Presbyterianism, and meeting new people, Covenant’s next Explore Membership class is condensed. Participants will meet for two Wednesdays, April 18 and 25, at 6:30 p.m. Contact Amy Skaggs at askaggs@covenant.org for more information. Cornerstone | March - May | Lent/Eastertide

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{ EVENTS}

APRIL

MARCH 1, 8 THUR Officer Training 1

Easter Sunday Worship Services Sunrise Service on the Patio, 6:30 a.m.

THUR Armchair Travelers, 7 p.m. FE 300 1

Traditional Services in the Sanctuary, 8, 9:30 and 11 a.m.

3

SAT

Walking the Mourner’s Path

Contemporary Service in FE 200, 9:30 and 11 a.m.

3

SAT

Preschool Fundraiser at Chez Zee

(Please ride the shuttle if you are able.)

6

TUE

VISIONS Activity Day, 10 a.m. FE 200

10- SATJourney Mission Trip 15 THUR 11 1218

SUN

MON- Belize Mission Trip for Youth and SUN Families

18

SUN

20

TUE

VISIONS Luncheon, 11:45 a.m. FE 200

21

WED

Children’s Resurrection Scavenger Hunt, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Eaton Hall

22

THUR

25

SUN

TUE

VISIONS Activity Day, 10 a.m. FE 200

4

WED

Belize Share Night, 6:30 p.m. FE 200

8

SUN

Ensemble Therapy parenting workshop, 9:30 a.m. FE 300

6-8

FRISUN

Presbyterian Women’s Spring Retreat at Mo Ranch

8

SUN

FE Celebration and Cohort Kick-off

15

SUN

Annual Meeting, 12:10 p.m. FE 200

5

THUR

5

THUR Armchair Travelers, 7 p.m. FE 300

Career Transitions 7 p.m. FE 100 (continues Thursdays through May 3)

17

TUE

VISIONS Luncheon, 11:45 a.m. FE 200

Preschool Easter Chapel, 9:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary

18

WED

Explore Membership, 6:30 p.m. CO 208

Palm Sunday, all worship services

22

SUN

Family Fellowship Potluck, 12:15 p.m. FE 300

2227

SUNFRI

Preschool Bookfair, FE 300

25

WED

Creation Care Event, 6:30 p.m. FE 200

25

WED

Explore Membership, 6:30 p.m. CO 208

28

SAT

2628

MON- Holy Week Services, 12 p.m. in the WED Sanctuary followed by light lunch

29

THUR Maundy Thursday Dinners in homes FRI

3

Daylight Saving Time Starts, 2 a.m.

Journey Homecoming Concert, 4 p.m. in the Sanctuary

30

25

SUN

Good Friday Tenebrae Service, 7 p.m. in the Sanctuary

Cornerstone | March - May | Ordinary Time

Children’s Musical, 6:30 p.m. Sanctuary


{ EVENTS}

MAY 1

TUES

VISIONS Activity Day, 10 a.m. FE 200

15

TUE

VISIONS Luncheon,11:45 p.m. FE 200

2

WED

Children’s Musical, 6:30 p.m. Sanctuary (second performance)

20

SUN

Sanctuary Choir Concert, 4 p.m. Sanctuary

6

SUN

Ensemble Therapy parenting workshop, 9:30 a.m. FE 300

23

WED

Preschool Graduation

6

SUN

All-Church Picnic, 4 p.m. Skaggs Ranch

27

SUN

Summer Worship Schedule Starts 8:15 and 9:30 Traditional, 11:05 Contemporary in FE 200

9

WED

PW Luncheon, 10:30 a.m. FE 200

28

MON

Preschool Camp begins, through June 1

9

WED

Last What-a-Wednesday, Last Dinner

10

THUR ESL Celebration, 6 p.m. FE 200

Sunday, April 8: Join us to celebrate our church. Hear where we have been and where we are going. We’ll also share plans about the new Institute for Missional Formation. Find out how you can be a part of this special initiative!

Join the women of Covenant at the Mission Presbytery PW Retreat from Friday, April 6, through Sunday, April 8, at Mo Ranch. This will be a weekend of spiritual growth with fellowship, worship, singing and numerous interesting workshops. Covenant will host the event next year! Find out more at covenant.org/PW2018retreat.

Cornerstone | March - May | Lent/Eastertide

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3003 Northland Drive Austin, TX 78757

covenant.org/picnic2018

Cornerstone March 2018  

Inside: The Kildays describe their work in Cambodia, a guide to Holy Week at Covenant, one member's effort to provide relief in Puerto Rico,...

Cornerstone March 2018  

Inside: The Kildays describe their work in Cambodia, a guide to Holy Week at Covenant, one member's effort to provide relief in Puerto Rico,...

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