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Cornerstone Covenant Presbyterian Church | December 2012

About Corners Cornerstone Contributors Interim Senior Pastor Paul Parsons

Cornerstone is the bimonthly publication of Covenant Presbyterian Church. Cornerstone provides in-depth articles on the events that take place on and off campus and the people who make them happen.

Clerk of Session Joy Durrant Business Administrator Frederick L. Clement Editor Stephanie Schultz Design and Layout

Content includes the Pastor’s letter, Session news, member and staff spotlights, and a calendar of upcoming events. Find more information on the events online and in Covenant Matters. Download the paper version of Cornerstone online at We will update the Cornerstone blog as we receive content at

Aaron Arnold

We need you! Contributing Writers Jack Kern, Tom Mitchell, Dorothy Taylor Photography Aaron Arnold, Beth Bishop, Whitney Bell, Jack Kern Special Thanks to Kay Austin, Paul Mowry, Brian Sparks, Jan Vanderpool


To make Cornerstone better, we need your help! The content will be more interesting and more fun with more writers. If you have something you want to write about or want us to write, let us know. While we can’t promise that every submitted article will appear in the printed version of Cornerstone, we will publish all appropriate stories on the blog. We also need photos of events. If you have suggestions for Cornerstone, email us at or stop by the office in Covenant Hall.

stone 2 Dear Friends


Pastor Paul considers Advent 4 Memories are Made of This

Jack Kern moved by Cuba experiences 15 Challenge!

Pastor Tom Mitchell says farewell 6 Multi-Dimensional Mary Helen

April Kelly remembers the Challenge Bowl 16 Thanks for your 2013 Promises

16 years and going strong 8

Christmas Eve

Stewardship is off to a fast start 17 Finance Report

Covenant staff loves Christmas Eve 9

Watching Over Pearl

For the month ended October 31, 2012 18

Dorothy Taylor remembers a message from God 10

Cuba, ­Over and Over!

An Honorable Life

Joy Durrant reports on Session 20

Julie Stillwell receives PW lifetime honor

Clerk’s Corner

Calendar of events

Check out what’s coming up

12 Helping Street Youth

Terry Cole explains Street Youth Ministry

Table of Contents 1

Dear Friends


It would be fair to say that Christmas falls on a liminal edge—that is, on a boundary between loss and hope. The event comes only hours after the shortest day of light, the darkest day of the year. For our world, this Christmas arrives on the heels of a brutal year of devastating storms, collapsing economies and slaughters of the innocent. In the United States, we are increasingly aware that no matter who the President is, he cannot unite the two polarizing visions that threaten to undo us as a nation. And within our congregation, we are brokenhearted to release from our staff both our beloved Fred Clement and Tom Mitchell after years of distinguished service. We stumble into Christmas having paid a high cost. And who knows what the future will hold?

How easy it is to stumble into Christmas, hearts heavy with losses, eyes half shut with weariness, captured far more by darkness than by hope. So I invite you to join me in trying to do the one thing I resist as much as I long for: Slow down. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. While not ignoring the costs of this past year or the challenges of the next, stay; wait. Because something wonderful, something full of glory, something better than you have hoped for or dreamed of lies ahead. Something on the horizon. That’s where I’m going this Advent, this Christmas and this New Year, and I hope you’ll come with me.

But it is at this very edge that I am reminded that the Christian year actually begins four Sundays before Christmas with the season we call Advent. Advent means “coming,” and it refers very specifically to the coming of Jesus. It is a coming that we may miss: “The season of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before. . . What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you. And you begin to grasp what it was you missed, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God’s [back] fade in the distance. So stay. . . Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon.” Jan Richardson, Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas


Memories are Made of This A Look Back with Pastor Tom Mitchell

Sunday, May 20, 2001, was the day that I first met Covenant Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. Mary Helen and I were married on May 16 in Wichita, Kan. We drove to Austin on May 17 to bring me home! From the moment of my arrival, I was lovingly welcomed as part of the Covenant family. The following week I introduced myself to the Covenant community of faith by playing Great Is Thy Faithfulness during the Gospel Night celebration. It was the beginning of a marvelous season in my life. Just months later in December, Tom Brown and I offered the first of our holiday music programs for the VISIONS Luncheon—a program that became an annual part of the holiday season for 11 years. Every year, I remarked that playing that performance was like entertaining all of my favorite aunts and uncles. I’ve never performed 4

for a more loving and supportive group of family and friends. After the first year, Tom Brown and I discussed the possibility that we were actually twin sons of different mothers. The ministry of music continued to be an important part of my life at Covenant. I reactivated the Journey youth choir, a name we borrowed from an anthem by Allen Pote that begins, “Awake, arise, the journey’s begun—we travel on together as one—we know not where the road will lead—but we move in faith making love our creed—as we follow—the journey is our home.” That first year the choir included four high school senior men; the remainder of the group was primarily seventh grade young ladies. I have enjoyed watching those young musicians continue their service. The first of them graduated from high school last year.

When Covenant started the 11:15 worship service in Eaton Hall, I was invited to serve as worship and music leader. During that time, I developed numerous close relationships that I continue to hold as precious memories. It was then that I also began the process of responding to God’s call on my life to get my seminary education and, after many years, to at last realize my dream of becoming an ordained pastor. Another important marker in my journey centers around the Service for Wholeness. I first shared leadership with Rick Myers and later Rick MacArthur, and more recently with a number of musical and pastoral colleagues who have greatly enriched my life. I believe this contemplative time of sung prayer, reflection and feasting at The Lord’s Table has made a real difference in the lives of some people. I know that is certainly true for me. Nothing, however, could be more memorable than the weeks, months and years since I was taken under care of Session in 2005 in order to pursue my training to become a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I completed my Master of Divinity degree at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in May 2008, and in February 2009, responded to Covenant’s invitation to become one of your associate pastors – a process that culminated in March 2009 when I was ordained and installed as Associate Pastor of Discipleship. I will always be grateful to Jim Barnette, Andrew Chapman, Avis Davis, Jack Kern, Tammy Linn, Shirley McGee and Don Zappone – the members of the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee who placed their trust in my gifts to become a pastor here with a congregation of people I had already grown to love deeply.

The invitations from families and friends to participate in memorial services, weddings and baptisms have each added a story line to my memories that will always be an important chapter in my scrapbook of life. I wrote in my letter to the congregation that as I prepare for retirement at the end of this calendar year: “Covenant Presbyterian Church will always hold a special place of gratitude in my heart and life.” So please receive God’s blessing: May the road rise to meet you May the wind be always at your back The sun shine warm upon your face The rain fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again May God hold you in the palm of God’s hands. The Lord bless you and keep you Cause his face to shine upon you And give you peace Now and forever and forever. Amen. †

Submitted by Tom Mitchell

Come bid your farewell to Tom on January 6 at 6 pm in Fellowship Hall. Watch for more details in Covenant Matters.


Multi-Dimensio Mary Helen Mary Helen Mitchell cannot name one thing she dislikes about her job. Not one! After 16 years as Executive Assistant to the Senior Pastor, Mary Helen is still excited to come to work every day, and is happiest when she is in contact with the congregation. “I love the worship part of my job and everything that has to do with it. I love interacting with the congregation; I love preparing the bulletins, getting the ashes for Ash Wednesday. It’s fun helping to make worship happen.” For Interim Senior Pastor Paul Parsons, Mary Helen’s assistance has been “multi-dimensional.” He said, “She’s really a kind of partner in the way she 6

works. Mary Helen’s knowledge of the congregation has been essential. She’s an extra set of ears and eyes. Mary Helen is a great sounding board, a great counselor and advisor. She extends my office and my influences.” Two Days to an Offer Sixteen years ago, Mary Helen actually moved to Austin without a job and without a place to live. She had just moved back to Texas from Nashville after working at First Presbyterian Nashville for seven years. She spent a couple weeks in Houston, but it felt too big. She packed up and came to Austin where two of her three kids lived.

“When I think now about putting everything I owned into my car and driving here, it seems crazy!” Yet, in less than a week, Mary Helen was busy assisting then-Covenant Senior Pastor George Cladis. “I interviewed at Covenant two days after I arrived in Austin and I got the job. They asked when I could start, and I said, ‘tomorrow.’” That was six pastors ago. After assisting George Cladis, Mary Helen has gone on to to be the right hand for Doug Harper, Jim Singleton, Gary Stratman, Rick Murray and current Interim Senior Pastor Paul Parsons.


“My attitude is that I support the office as much as the personality of the pastor,” Mary Helen said. Depending on the individual, Mary Helen’s job has mutated. “One pastor will add more to my job; another will take off. The changes that I experience are based on whatever that particular pastor wants and needs done. Parts of it always stay the same, though. We’ll always have deaths and baptisms.” Through all the changes in the senior pastor’s office, Mary Helen has remained flexible – a trait she carries over to her personal life, often helping out with her grandkids who live in Austin and seeing the two older grandchildren in Houston as often as she can. Husband

Tom Mitchell’s daughter lives in Maryland so they see her less often, but are close to her as well.

Tom said, adding (when prodded), “Yes, I will be making dinner much more often than in recent months and years.”

“I love living close to my family,” Mary Helen said. “The other day two-year-old Hazel threw a little fit when her mom was ready to take her home. That hadn’t happened before. It was kinda fun,” she laughed.

Kay Austin, Mary Helen’s office mate for the last five years, says that every day with Mary Helen is enjoyable. “Mary Helen has taught me so much about caring and giving, and has been such a willing trainer of all things Covenant. Her memory of the last 16 years of members, staff and events is amazing and I have relied on it many times. We are a good team. We look out for each other and our office on most days is filled with laughter and stories of kids, grandkids and cats!” †

With Tom’s upcoming retirement as Associate Pastor for Discipleship, Mary Helen will miss having her hubby next door during the workday, but is happy that he can rest more often. “We will certainly miss working in the same building but we will find a way to compensate,”


Christmas Eve Covenant offers six services on Christmas Eve—one for every age and every worship preference. The first service is at 2 p.m.; the final service, our candlelit service, is at 10:30 p.m. In between, we offer contemporary, 3:30 p.m.; services for kids at 5 and 6:30 p.m.; and the full choir at 8:30 p.m. Covenant employees talked about what makes Christmas Eve Services special. Pastor Paul Parsons said that due to his many moves, he appreciates the stability of the services. “I love the structure and form and especially the

lessons in carols. It’s a reminder that we stand in the middle of a story that really matters.”

connecting feel. I think kids enjoy their services. They feel included.”

Kay Austin, who works in Congregational Care, said that Christmas is her favorite service of the year. “It’s calm and peaceful. I love the candles and hymns. The service offers a connection to growing up; a sense of belonging. I see people I haven’t seen all year.”

Associate Children’s Director Stacey Grooms agreed. “The children’s services are short, early and the kids have a good time. It’s church on Christmas Eve that meets kids and their families where they are.”

Maureen Crawley, Lay Ministry Assistant, echoed Kay. “I love the candlelight services for its solemn, quiet, peaceful, emotional and

Music Director Tom Brown laughed. “I’m happy when they are over!” He explained, “It’s a hard night for choir directors; you don’t have all the choir members and there are more services than you can handle.”

Remembering Our Loved Ones Every year, Covenant arranges poinsettias throughout the Sanctuary to honor loved ones. Do you have someone in your life you’d like to recognize? Use this order form to request poinsettias in his or her honor. The person’s name will appear in the Dec. 23 worship bulletin.


Watching Over Pearl

Dorothy Taylor is a Deacon at Covenant and an avid reader of Guideposts. In the magazine, one of her favorite sections is called, “His Mysterious Ways.” For this month’s Cornerstone, she submitted a story that she’s been thinking about for over a decade. More than 10 years ago, our pastor, the Reverend Dr. George Cladis, had just started the funeral service for a dear friend who had been a faithful member of Covenant for many years. Pearl was friendly, outgoing and loved by everybody. She often greeted members and guests at the door for Sunday worship and seemed to know everyone by name. After Dr. Cladis acknowledged the family and members present and was commenting on Pearl’s love of bird watching, a bird perched on one of the horizontal braces of the stained glass

window that dominates our sanctuary. Because of the window’s size, there are many horizontal and vertical braces on the outside of the glass. Immediately the bird started rapidly pecking on the window. Since our pastor had his back to the window, he laughingly said, “I trust that’s a bird!” He turned around only to have the bird peck a little harder. As we all silently watched, the bird fluttered its wings and flew away. Perhaps others in the congregation remember this incident. I have attended Covenant for over 25 years and never witnessed a bird near the window before or after that funeral. God wanted us to know that Pearl was safely home. Do you have an interesting experience at Covenant? Submit it to the publications team and have it published in the next Cornerstone. Submitted by Dorothy Taylor


An Honorable Julie Stillwell receives a Presbyterian Women Honorary Lifetime Membership

A surprised Julie Stillwell received an Honorary Lifetime Membership to the Presbyterian Women in early September. The commendation is given to a special woman in recognition of faithful service to God and Covenant. “I never dreamed I would get this honor,” Julie said. “So many women work so hard in the church in so many different capacities. “ Julie is the third generation in her family to receive the honor. Her mother and grandmother were honorary lifetime PW members. The Presbyterian faith is rooted in her family. Her grandfather was a Presbyterian minister and missionary to Korea. Though Julie’s church accomplishments are many, she is most proud of her work to raise the awareness of Presbyterian Women. Since Julie married Gary Stillwell, moved to Austin, joined the church and became active in 10

Life Covenant women’s groups in 1999, she has campaigned for Covenant to increase involvement in the national PW organization and worked to help Covenant members better understand what PW is. Longtime friend Susan Holman agrees. “Julie reinvigorated Covenant’s involvement with Presbyterian Women. With Julie, you see a pattern repeated over and over. As the Holy Spirit plants an idea in Julie’s head, she then inspires everyone else to come along,” At Julie’s urging, Covenant women have participated in Synod of the Sun Gatherings, the Mission Presbytery Women’s Retreat and Austin Area Cluster events. She encouraged Covenant women to attend the Church-wide Gathering of Presbyterian Women in 2003, and has attended each meeting since. She organized scholarships for a New Covenant Fellowship woman and a Luyano member to attend the Gathering.

Look for a feature on PW Circles in the February issue of Cornerstone!

Christmas Giving Tree

Julie was PW Moderator in 2004-05, bringing new ideas including Girls’ Night Out and Honorary Life Membership participation. She updated bylaws and lobbied for dedicated PW space. The group now has a room in Covenant Hall. As PW Historian, Julie organized a backlog of pictures and records. Julie’s loving support of PW has shown through in all she does,” a friend said. “Covenant’s PW would not exist in its present condition without Julie’s involvement.” The Christmas Giving Tree is a great way

Julie volunteers outside of PW as well, serving as a deacon and Sunday school teacher, has helped with communion and greeting visitors, participates in intercessory prayer, and is a regular volunteer at Manos de Cristo.

for Covenant members to help the less fortunate each holiday season. The tree is located in the Fellowship and Education Building or on the patio every day of the week. Tree ornaments describe the needs of Covenant’s many programs, so come take a look and see how you can help. For more information, contact Paul Mowry at or 795-9371.

“Julie is someone people turn to in crisis and joy,” Susan said. “Behind the trust that people feel with her is her faith.” † 11

Helping Street Youth

Covenant member Terry Cole runs Street Youth Ministry (SYM). Terry became interested in the needs of street-dependent young people after volunteering for Daily Bread, a once-a-week commitment to serve dinner to the homeless. 12

Oddly enough, Terry initially planned to quit this volunteer gig. “I hated it! I was frustrated by the lack of relationships,” he said. “Mealtimes were structured to be only about the food. We passed out food quickly with no interaction.”

Because the organization was in a bind, Terry agreed to serve meals for a month. During August 2003, Terry implemented some “tricks” to interact with clients. “We learned their names. We asked the cooks to make two meal choices so we could ask what they wanted, and too much dessert so we could pass out extra. By the month’s end, dinners were interactive enough that I wanted to stay,” Terry said. “I’ve never stopped serving that meal.” About SYM SYM assists a rotating group of street-dependent young people and travelers, most between the ages of 17 and 25. Terry estimates that SYM has contact with about 100 individuals every week, averaging 10 new clients weekly. High turnover means that the organization sees about 200 unique clients each month. On average, three to four clients graduate every month. The needs of this demographic are different than a typical older homeless person. Studies show that the human brain continues significant development until age 25. “We believe that the brain maturity model has something to do with people getting off the streets,” Terry said. “We see our clients gain new coping skills around 25. Some problems disappear; some are more regulated. It’s a prime age to help them.” Terry said that SYM clients like predictability. “All the days of the week are different, but we have a solid rhythm that we try not to change.” On Monday, SYM has prayer time. Terry spends time with young clients at LifeWorks. On Tuesday, the focus is Bible study, where clients encounter the Bible for themselves at a West

Campus church. Daily Bread serves a meal on Tuesday night. Wednesdays are for fellowship. Some street youth come to Covenant. Thursday is self-care day. Street youth visit a clothing closet at University Methodist Church, or browse for maternity clothing at the Austin Pregnancy Resource Center. Partners come, tell their stories and talk with street youth about different ways to approach places that offer social services and recovery assistance. Fridays are intern day. SYM’s internship program teaches how to lead a poverty-informed urban ministry. SYM Highlights The Street Youth and Terry will lead an informal prayer service on Dec. 19 at 6:30 p.m. “Because our clients get to lead scripture and songs, and because we do it together and get the congregation involved, we call it a share concert. It’s a fabulous equalizer,” Terry said. “Rarely are our Covenant people praying for a place to stay, but when a kid says that he’s praying for his mother to understand him, that strikes a similar chord. It’s a very beautiful service.” Terry said that “SYM prays and waits for the day that each client has the stability, the sobriety, a God-fearing nature and a connection to a Christian community.” Until then, support is needed. There are many financial and service opportunities: praying for the youth, providing pet supplies, serving and preparing food, running errands and more. “It’s easy to drop in and easy serve dinner once,” said Terry. “And our clients love getting to know people who come more often.” To volunteer, go to † 13

Cuba, ­Over and Over! I have just returned from my 15th trip to Cuba. It was another glorious trip in which the very real presence of Christ tangibly embraced us in fullness and richness.

• The Cuban Presbyterian Church’s response to emigration issues, a huge challenge for Cuba and for the Cuban Presbyterian Church suffering many pastor departures.

In December I will return to Cuba for my third time this year to attend the Presbyterian Cuba Partners Network meeting that takes place every four years. The Cuban church synod (national) IV Institutes developed the theme for this meeting. This is only the fourth “Institute” since the Cuban church separated from the U.S. church and our governments formed the autonomous Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba in January 1967. These same themes will likely be shared at the December Cuba Partners Network Meeting.

Please pray for this encounter of 33 U.S. and 30 Cuban church representatives as we continue to witness through service and ministry to each other and to our communities.

• The Cuban Presbyterian Church’s response to Cuba’s rapidly changing economic realities. 14

We at Covenant receive profound spiritual renewal from this ministry, and are repeatedly told of the encouragement God sends to our brothers and sisters in Cuba through us. That is why I go back to Cuba, over and over. The newly installed clean water treatment system at our sister church, where water demand far exceeds supply, creates ministry opportunity. When asked if people are joining the church because of the clean water treatment system,

we learned that the church provides free water out of obedience to Christ. We were reminded that new members come from the movement of the Holy Spirit, not by things we do. Obedience to Christ. Yes, that too is part of why I go back to Cuba, over and over. The newly installed pastor at our sister church, Daniel Izquierdo, will be in Austin Jan. 18-24. On Jan. 22, Tammy Linn and Tom Brown will perform the Concierto Cubano II. Learn more about Covenant’s Cuban travels in Emily Taylor’s article in the February Cornerstone. Maybe God is calling you to spiritual renewal and Cuban outreach. † Submitted by Jack Kern


The Core Student Ministries Challenge Bowl is a great opportunity for boys and girls from all different grades and skill levels to come together. But the best part about the touch football game played annually in early November, according to Student Ministries Assistant Whitney Bell is, “it’s just really fun!” The teams are divided evenly and coached by Core volunteer leaders Joe Muck and Russell

McFarlane. This year’s referees were Derek Nafe and Andrew Bell. Calls, both by the coaches and the refs, were important, as the game was a nail-biter, being decided only in the last minute. “The game is a bonding time for students. We had a senior football player from McCallum blocking for seventh grade boys. We had new kids come who were into sports. It’s a great time!” Whitney said.

The new kids attending might have learned about D*Now, Core Student Ministries’ intown retreat where students stay in host homes, explore the city and study the Bible. D*Now is Jan. 18–20. Students receive registration information by mail. Sign up by Dec. 12 for a price break. For more information, contact Whitney Bell at 334-3008 or † Submitted by April Kelly


Thanks for your 2013 Promises Stewardship Campaign Off to Fast Start

More Covenant members and friends are pledging more dollars than in recent years in the 2013 Stewardship campaign. During the first week of our campaign at the end of October, Covenant was promised more than $1.4 million. By mid-November, pledges totaled nearly $2 million. Members and friends are pledging at higher rates than in nearly a decade, with the average pledge of more than $5,800. “I think part of the reason this campaign has been successful is due to the really great talks we had leading up to Stewardship Sunday,” said Stewardship Co-chair Thais Kilday. “Our speakers were so genuine and authentic. They were honest about their giving and it seemed to make people want to pledge this year.” With nearly 40 percent of the congregation already pledged, the stewardship team is still aiming for more participation. As Pastor Paul Parsons wrote in a letter to the congregation:


“I invite you to pray, to ask God what would He have you give to and through Covenant Presbyterian Church this year, and to commit that in a promise. …Providing that information to the church gives us the opportunity to make a realistic spending plan for the coming year.” Pledge cards may still be picked up and/or turned into the church office during business hours. Or members and friends may pledge online at Paul reminded Covenant members that the stewardship season isn’t really about money. “It’s about spiritual transformation, if you are willing. It begins by actively transferring ownership of everything you are and have to God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. This surrender means you are willing to stop playing God and to let Him call the shots.” †

Finance Report FOR THE month ENDed October 31, 2012

Budgeted Revenues

Annual Budget

Budget YTD

Actual YTD

YTD VariancE Budget vs Actual

Pledged Offerings













Total Revenues





Budgeted Expenditures









Unpledged Offerings Miscellaneous

Rev Over <under> Exp

Did you know? Your Contributions to Covenant can be facilitated electronically through Covenantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eStewardship program via electronic funds transfers; pre-authorized recurring or one-time ACH transactions; or credit card payment. For more information, visit or contact Covenantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s staff accountant at 334-3001.


Clerk’s Corner At our October meeting, Session honored our Business Administrator Fred Clement. Fred has worked closely with the current Session and numerous past Sessions. We approved a resolution honoring Fred, presented him with gift certificates to a restaurant and a clothing store, and gave him the game Episcopopoly so that he can get caught up on all things Episcopalian! We celebrated with dessert and shared our memories of Fred. The Committee on Ministry (COM) is a committee of Mission Presbytery. Covenant’s COM representative is Rita Livingston. A member of Central Presbyterian Church, Rita met with our Session to let us know that she would like to be proactive helping Covenant 18

and our Pastor Nominating Committee, the group seeking our new senior pastor. She is meeting weekly with our PNC. Please feel free to contact her at 401-0575 or Because of changes introduced by the New Form of Government (nFoG), Session is working to determine the questions to ask next year’s officer candidates and the candidate training process. We’re excited about our progress and are looking forward to examining the officer candidates. Please remember to pray for Covenant’s Nominating Committee as they work to identify officer candidates. Last spring, a group of interested folks met to review the previous Annual

Congregational Meeting, where we elected officers and reviewed the FY 2011 financials, programs and pastoral report. Covenant has decided to extend these two meetings, both of which have been approved by Session. Meetings and agendas for 2013 are: • Jan. 13: Officer nominations, approval of pastors’ terms of call and approval of bylaw changes • Apr. 7: Annual meeting, including financial reports (pending bylaw approval) By nominating officers earlier in the year, we will have more time for training, examination and installation. With a later Annual Meeting, Covenant will be able to present the audited financial reports. Previously,

all of the financial information presented at the Annual Meeting was noted as “unaudited results.” Changing the date of our Annual Meeting required a change in our bylaws. A Bylaws Task Force reviewed the bylaws in their entirety and recommended only a change in wording to allow the Annual Meeting to occur later in the year. See the bylaw changes at The congregation will vote on the bylaws changes in January; a three-quarters majority is needed to accept the change.

With your help, income for September and October was ahead of our projection. At October’s end, Covenant was ~$65,000 behind in YTD income. At the end of June, we were $260,000 behind. We are continuing to close the gap. Thank you! Also, thank you for turning in your 2013 pledges. It is so helpful to have that information for next year’s budgeting. If you haven’t yet turned in your 2013 pledge, you may still do so by turning your cards into the church office or pledging online at As always, we genuinely appreciate the thoughtful and dedicated stewardship of your time, talent and money, and especially your prayers!

Joyfully praising God with you,

Joy Durrant Clerk of Session

Highlights from the Mission Presbytery Meeting • The General Assemblyrecommended changes to the Book of Order will be voted on in March; the new translation of the Heidelberg Confession will be voted on in June. View changes at • Covenant was represented at the meeting, with a total attendance of 292, by five commissioners: Donna Barksdale, Jane Gamel, Bretna Hackert (our esteemed driver), Joe Muck and Joy Durrant.

• An offering of $3,336 was collected; the money will support the Mission Presbytery Youth attendees to the Presbyterian Youth Triennium, July 16–20, at Purdue University. • Jack Kern was nominated to the Mission Outreach and Justice Committee, Class of 2015. • The COM noted in its report that Paul Parsons’ interim contract had been renewed for 12 months, effective Aug. 15, 2012.

• Rev. Neal Presa, Moderator of the 220th General Assembly, will hold a Town Hall Meeting in San Antonio on May 2. Upcoming Mission Presbytery Meetings

March 1–2 at Shepherd of the Hills in Austin June 14–15 at Shreiner University in Kerrville Oct. 25–26 at Mo Ranch in Hunt


Calendar of ev Hanging of the Green

Dec. 2 at the 9:30 and 11 a.m. Traditional Services Senior Activities Day

Dec. 4 at 10 a.m. in FE 200 Movie: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Church-Wide Carol Sing with Journey Youth Choir

Dec. 5 at 6:30 p.m.

Senior Activities Day Be wary when you read that a hotel is newly

Armchair Travelers

restored like “The Best Exotic Marigold

Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. in Fellowship Hall

Hotel” (2011). This movie will be shown at 1 p.m. at the Dec. 4 Senior Activities

Youth and Children’s Choirs Special Presentation

Day. British retirees played by Judi Dench,

Dec. 9 at 9:30 and 11 a.m. Traditional Services

Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and others travel to the Marigold Hotel in

Christmas Progressive Dinner

India for less-expensive retirement living.

Dec. 9 at 5:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall Bring an appetizer, a dessert, or host a dessert and gift trade

Although the hotel has certainly seen better days, it eventually charms and affects the retirees in unexpected ways. Bingo, games

GraceNotes and Pro Musica Christmas Concert

and puzzles start at 10 a.m. in FE 200 and a

Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Bastrop Opera House

buffet lunch is provided at noon. Come for all or any part of the program.

GraceNotes and Pro Musica Christmas Concert

Guests are welcome. Donations are ac-

Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. in the Sanctuary

cepted for lunch and reservations are not required. For more information call Martha

Student Ministries Christmas Party

Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. in FE 400 Sanctuary Choir and Brass Ensemble Concert

Dec. 16 at 9:30 and 11 a.m. Traditional Services Featuring Rutter’s Gloria and other seasonal music for choir and brass Christmas Prayer Service led by Street Youth Ministry

Dec. 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary


Bombaugh at 345-5916.

vents Christmas Eve Services

Dec. 24 in the Sanctuary 2 p.m. for traditional service, 5 p.m. for young children, 6:30 p.m. for older children, 8:30 (full choir) and 10:30 for candlelit services

Explore Membership Class

Contemporary Christmas Eve Service

Are you considering membership at Cov-

Dec. 24 at 3:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall Small ensemble with strings and piano

enant? Do you know of visitors who would be interested in attending a class on membership? Covenant’s Explore Membership

Farewell Gathering for Tom Mitchell

class is a great way to learn more about the

Jan. 6 at 6 p.m. in Fellowship Hall

church and get connected. Explore Membership’s six classes give you the chance to:

Wednesday Night Dinners Resume

• Make new friends and grow relationships

Jan. 9 at 5 p.m. in Fellowship Hall

• Learn more about Presbyterianism • Discover how to get involved at Covenant

Upward Basketball Games

• Discuss tips for growth and study

Saturdays from Jan. 19 through March 9

• Gather ideas on how to care for others We want you to be known and cared for

Walking the Mourner’s Path

in the Covenant family. Each of us is in

Saturdays from Jan. 12 through March 10 at 9:30 a.m. Grief recovery groups, for information contact

different place in our lives and has different spiritual needs. A church family recognizes this and together we foster relationships,

Student Ministries D*Now

encourage growth and care for others. We

Jan. 18–20 Visit for details

know that God meets us where we are. The next class begins on Jan. 6 and meets for six Sunday mornings through Feb. 10 in CO

Concierto Cubano

208. To register, contact Maureen Crawley

Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. in Sanctuary Hall

at or 334-3057. For childcare, contact Jaclyn Black at or 334-3020 at least 48 hours in advance.


3003 Northland Drive Austin, TX 78757

Officers and Staff of Covenant Presbyterian Church Deacons




Class of 2015



Class of 2015

Breece Adams Ursula Alley Mike Austin June Beck Nancy Bissell Deatra Boese Amanda Cowan Jane Crowe Peggy Cuevas Kay Davenport Bonnie Hartmann Fred Hartmann Abby Hemphill Susan Hutchison Tammy Linn Steve Martens Ken Moore Sarah Ott Ryan Palm LaTrelle Peterson Megan Poore Charles Ridings Jim Robinson Jim Rumbo Nancy Rumbo Lynn Smith Shannon Windham

Marilyn Adams Matt Bair Donna Barksdale Lynn Bell Steve Bissell Julie Bou Allen Carmichael Lynda Chapman Jay Corder Cara Cotham Jim Foster Jacquez “Joc” Gaines Bretna Hackert Elizabeth Hilton Barbara Knisely Bill Mange Lacy Ruwwe Carol Sheppard Lisa Sledge Sharon Smith Tom Smith Brent Stover Diane Swanson Beth Voorhees

Susan Ashton Jill Baumhover Wendell Bell Sylvia Betts Rusty Burnett Carolyn Carmichael Steve Caskey Allison Crutchfield Dianne Erlewine Pansy Flick Jane Gamel Keith Ging Garrett Hall Patti Hansen Elizabeth Harrell Bill Hawkins Shannon Knisely Jack Kriens Loretta Kriens Larry Loessin Tom Magruder James Marroquin Emily McGinnis Gwen Morton Patrick Schmidt Gary Vliet Becky Wells Sharyn Westmoreland Paul Wynkoop

Christy Green Tom Hutchison JoAnne McIntosh Joe Muck Tom Sunstrom

Joy Durrant Jeff Horn Jan Skaggs Laura Tuma Clark Weatherby

Don Davis Evangeline Herring Chuck Ruesink Melanie Williamson Cindy Young

Foundation Trustees CLASS OF 2013


Class of 2015

Noel Durrant Doug Hartman Tana Taylor

Dianne Erlewine

Dave Ferguson Jack Kern Mary Teeple

Program Staff Paul Parsons, Interim Senior Pastor Beth Bishop, Director of Lay Ministries Thomas W. Brown, Director of Music Ministry Frederick L. Clement, Director of Administration William Leonhardt, Director of Student Ministries Christy Milam, Director of Preschool Tom Mitchell, Associate Pastor for Discipleship John Schmidt, Organist Stephanie Schultz, Director of Communications Jill Williams, Associate Pastor for Congregational Care Ministries Gayla Stuart, Director of Children’s and Preteen Ministries


Read about Pastor Tom Mitchell's farewell, Mary Helen Mitchell's experiences at Covenant, Julie Stillwell's PW honor, Terry Cole's Street Yo...


Read about Pastor Tom Mitchell's farewell, Mary Helen Mitchell's experiences at Covenant, Julie Stillwell's PW honor, Terry Cole's Street Yo...