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Taylor Adams and Trinity Black helped at the Lamar Middle School garden on Covenant’s Shaped to Serve day. “The gardening teacher was pleased with our work and said it was very helpful,” Taylor said. “I had lots of fun and I want to do it again. I’d also like to see you there next year getting your hands dirty with me!”


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.


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


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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.







The angel’s news is the basis for true joy 3



SPNC provides update of recent progress 4

Thanks, Ray, for 30 years of outstanding service!


Kids use imaginations on Shaped to Serve project 13

Different situations, same trust in God 6







Worship experience reaches kids in new ways 10


Personnel, budget fill Session calendar 16

Middle school retreat encourages friendship, faith 9


Bells prove to be magnet for adults and kids

Expect many of the same programs, new flavor 8


Create more joy and love with your kids

Covenant honors 12 years of service 7



For the period ended October 31, 2013 17


See what’s coming up this Holiday Season


Zambia travelers wear many hats


LOOKING FOR JOY Receiving a Christmas card makes us feel good inside. When we look through our mail and happily find something besides a bill, junk mail or an unwanted catalog, we know someone is thinking about us and taking the time to send a greeting. One greeting God gives us this Advent and Christmas season is the message of joy. Joy comes to us in Luke’s gospel through shepherds. One moment, ordinary shepherds are going about their daily work of keeping sheep, and the next, an angel of the Lord visits them. When the glory of God floods the story and floods the field, the shepherds understandably react with fear. The angel tells them not to be afraid, for “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.” A lot of news brings us joy. News of engagements and marriages, pregnancies and births, graduations and jobs, a good report card, a sports victory, peace brokered, a good medical report. A lot of news brings us joy, but this good news, which the angel brings from God, is great news and the basis for true joy. And unlike the Christmas Cards we send to a limited group of people special to our lives, this news, this greeting, this announcement from heaven of great joy is not for a few but “for all people.” The shepherds are the first to learn of a simple birth that has universal significance. My question for those of us who know and believe this good news is: Why is there too often an absence of joy?


One of my favorite children’s authors is Dr. Seuss. He wrote the very popular story, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” about a joyless pessimist named Grinch. In the story, the Grinch hates the Whos, who are happily hanging their stockings, preparing the Christmas feast and singing. The Grinch tries to “steal” Christmas and to make the Whos miserable and unhappy, just like him. We laugh at the Grinch; the cynical among us even admire the Grinch, but sadly, we often are like the Grinch—hard to love, unhappy, angry and jealous of what others have. We too try to bring others down to our own miserable level, because our hearts are too small. In the end, the Whos down in Who-ville provide the lesson of this story. How do they respond after the Grinch has stolen their Christmas? Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small, still sang, without any presents at all. When the Grinch realizes

he hasn’t stopped Christmas from coming, he has a new thought: “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. “Maybe Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more!” Friends, joy is a gift from God. It comes from the Savior, not the season. A country song, “I’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places,” provides a good analogy for joy. Perhaps we’ve been looking for joy in all the wrong places, confusing joy with happiness. Happiness, a fair-weathered friend, seems to hang around when circumstances are good. Joy is deeper. It comes from within and doesn’t depend on circumstances.

Like the Whos, we, too, can choose to rejoice, even when life is hard. For joy flows out of our relationship with God and that is something that no one can steal (but it sure can grow!). God longs for us to rediscover the joy He intends for us to experience and live out this Christmas season. Will you join me in praying for this for the Covenant family? I look forward to worshipping with you this month, offering our response to the Giver of Gifts for the great, good news of the birth of the Savior of the World. WITH LOVE AND JOY,


SEEKING A PASTOR The Senior Pastor Nominating Committee (SPNC) updated the Covenant congregation of its progress on Nov. 10. Paulette Kern said the team continues to review more than a dozen Pastor Information Forms (the pastor resume). The committee had conducted six video interviews with potential candidates.

SPNC members are aware of the anxiety and frustration that some members feel, Paulette said. “This process has been a powerful lesson in praying, listening, obeying and waiting in order to discern God’s will. We want to assure all that God is leading us in a mighty way and in His own perfect timing.”

“We did not have to start over,” Paulette said. “We continue to find that we have a number of promising candidates who are very interested in being Covenant’s senior pastor. Knowing the importance of this role in our church, we continue to use prayerful discernment in evaluating these candidates.”

The SPNC began its work in September 2012. For the past 14 months, the committee has been blessed by the congregation’s patience, prayers and trust. The SPNC prays that Covenant members renew their engagement in and commitment to Covenant’s community of faith, as we actively wait upon the Lord. 3


I hit send on my email at 3:19 a.m., July 8, 2013. My mind spinning in fear and anxiety, I had written a few close friends asking for prayers. My husband, 10-year-old daughter and I were just two days from making a trip that would change our lives forever. I am not my daughter’s first mother. God’s grace led us to this amazing child 10 years ago when she was a tiny, malnourished baby living in a Russian orphanage. We had promised Naeda we would take her to visit when she was 10 years old. Now 10 and true to her spirit, she was holding us to that promise. And, she wanted to meet her birth family. I am not proud to admit that I was afraid. I wanted to stay in my safe house, where I understood the language and knew the people, the customs and the food. I wanted to stay close to my other children 4

and play in our easy life. I wanted to deny the painful, sad and difficult parts of my daughter’s life. I could talk about her adoption, but in my heart, I wanted to pretend I was her only mom, that her infancy had always been pink, soft and happy, and that she was mine – no other state, no other woman, not even God could claim her. I was afraid that this trip would pull Naeda away from me. God wanted us to take this journey. “Do not be afraid,” God says, “for I am with you.” Flash forward to September 2013. I am co-chairing Covenant’s stewardship campaign. I love this church and its people. Yet, this is not the easiest time to ask people to give their lives and their money to our church. You may have noticed we don’t have a senior pastor. We don’t even have an interim senior

pastor. We’ve had five key staff members retire or leave in the last 12 months. We had advertised a “vision-based” budget, but circumstances and changes delayed the process. Giving for 2013 was down, as was membership. People were starting to wonder if Covenant might be “a sinking ship.” Now, go ask people to pledge their support for 2014. It was almost funny. When I wasn’t afraid. “Do not be afraid,” God says, “for I am with you.” God wanted us to take this journey. We launched the stewardship campaign, “This is Why,” and asked people to follow God. And follow God, Covenant did. During this stewardship season, Covenant turned away from fear and took a journey of faith, of trust and of love. God has been in front, behind and beside us every step of the way. During the campaign’s first weeks, Covenant families pledged more than they have during the same period in any of the last five years, and average pledges are higher. Lay leaders have stepped up to continue and grow this church’s thriving ministries that have blessed so many. Covenant is strong, healthy and vibrant, and committed to following God on this journey. During a season in which many feared sinking, God took us sailing. God has blessed us, equipped us and given us the courage to obey.

all hope and reason, Naeda got to meet her birthmother and her little sister. Just as Naeda had fantasized, at the appointed time, a beautiful Russian woman came from afar, holding out her arms, tears streaming down her face, reaching out to embrace Naeda in the hug they had both wanted for 10 long years. My heart burst with joy. Instead of fear and jealousy, God granted me grace and peace. Half the world away, God came to embrace and heal me. For a few shining days there was no such thing as language, money, jealously, anger, politics, grief or fear. There was only love. Naeda is not mine; she is His. We all are, and we have been all along. Covenant is not ours; it is His. It has been all along. We are in the very best of hands. I am so grateful to be on this journey with all of you. SUBMITTED BY THAIS KILDAY

Back to Russia. God was there. Naeda got to see the majestic sites of her homeland, and the humble rooms in the orphanage of her early days. And beyond 5

GOOD-BYE GALA FOR GAYLA Covenant will say good-bye to Gayla Stuart, Director of Children and Preteen Ministries Gayla Stuart on Dec. 8 at 12:15 p.m. in FE 200. Gayla, a lifelong Covenant member, will continue to worship here, but she will no longer be leading our children in their journey with God. For the first time in 12 years, she’s looking forward to spending Christmas Eve with her children. As her time was winding down in the office, Gayla talked about the things she will miss. “The thought of not teaching those kids on Sunday mornings puts the biggest lump in my throat,” she said. “I love this place. Leaving has me torn up; I have mixed feelings. But I need to be available to my kids on a more flexible basis. It is not because I don’t love what I do, but I need to be obedient to my life, and what I do with my life.” Gayla’s proudest Covenant moments are wrapped up in vacation Bible school. “I think VBS is a glimpse of what being


the body of Christ can look like. It feels like a little slice of heaven, the kingdom come. Those 500 little bodies worshipping and singing all together is wonderfully magical.” In her next phase of life, Gayla will be working as a sales representative doing business with education stores like Teacher Heaven and Mardel. “It’s a cross section of what I’ve done here and even before when I worked at Sylvan Learning. The best thing about it is that I’ll control my own schedule.” Gayla says that after a bit of rest, she’ll “show up somewhere in ministry here at Covenant. I need to get my dose of kids. I’ve been teaching Sunday school here since 1995—the week I moved

back to Austin.” She says she’ll volunteer some Sundays at the Helping Hand Home for Kids. “I’ve enjoy working with kids. I love the way they look at things. It keeps me grounded; it keeps me young,” Gayla said. “I also enjoy equipping and empowering parents to teach Sunday school and to teach the Word in their own homes. And I love working with the staff.” Let Gayla know how much she’s appreciated at the Dec. 8 party.

GROOMS TO LEAD KIDS For the past 10 years, Stacey Grooms has been what she calls the “beside-the-front” person for children’s ministry. She’s been making sure all the parts are running, a job she says she can do almost without thinking. That will change on Dec. 9 when Stacey becomes Covenant’s interim director of children and preteen ministry. “Right now, Gayla is the spokesperson,” Stacey said. “That requires a different kind of preparation and attention. In my current role (as associate director), I can leave the stage and fix things that aren’t working. Now, I’ll need to plan differently and think ahead.” Stacey’s first order of business is to throw Gayla a goingaway party, quickly followed by Christmas Eve children’s services. She’ll also work to learn the new parts of her job and make staff plans. Stacey is excited, but will miss her friend. “I’ve got big shoes to fill. Gayla has set up a great ministry. I have loved working with her and am excited to keep our programs going, and to find a way to put my own flavor on it.”

Stacey has been a part of the Covenant children’s ministry for most of the past 18 years, hired as a caregiver when her 18-yearold son was four months old. She did various jobs until she and her family moved to Chicago. When they returned three years later, Stacey did some caregiving, but she wanted to be a church member. “I did everything. I joined Lamplighters, choir, GraceNotes; I sang at the contemporary service and taught children’s choir and Little Lamps.” Stacey also helped at VBS, where she got to know Gayla. Gayla was named children’s ministry director, and when Stacey heard the news she thought assisting Gayla would be a perfect job, but was unsure she was qualified. “I told God, ‘Listen, I really want this job, but I’m not going to ask for it so you’ll have to give it to me.’”

she’s a joy to work with and for. Gayla also taught me that it’ll always be okay. We work with what we’ve got and make it good. Stacey enjoys Covenant’s familyfriendly atmosphere. “A strength of the children’s team is that we’re moms and we support each other. We are hard working and can get our jobs done, and we still take care of our kids.”

Two days later, Stacey received a note from Gayla about the job.

“Stacey’s gonna rock this position!” Gayla said. “She’s got spunk and pizzazz, and she knows what it takes to keep all the balls in the air at the same time.”

Over the years, Stacey has learned much from Gayla, especially about people. “Gayla is encouraging and appreciative. People need that. That’s why

Starting soon, Stacey will use her experience – and her spunk – to steer the Children’s Ministry team as, in her words, “the buckstops-here person.” 7

BUILDING COMMUNITY Associate Director for of Student Ministry for Middle School Nathan Richards, 16 seventh and eighth grade students, and five adult leaders trekked to Mo Ranch on what may have been the nicest weekend of the year in early November. The goal of the trip was to strengthen the middle school community and to build on each student’s foundation of faith. The motto for the three-day trip was “God seeks; God speaks; God saves.” “This wasn’t meant to be a stand-alone event; it’s meant to be one of the ways we build on what we already do,” Nathan said. “It’s also nice to give the kids one big thing that they look back on and remember.” Nathan planned an intense schedule of worship, small group discussions and fun activities. The kids dove into worship when they arrived about 9 p.m. Friday. Saturday morning, after pancakes and bacon, the kids again worshiped, thought about their lives during quiet time and got together in small groups. They then embarked on a ropes course.


“We had only two or three hours of free time,” Nathan said. “But we had lots of fun activities planned: We did a backward scavenger hunt where the goal was to find the most interesting pictures and outdo the other teams, we played games the kids like – murder in the dark and family – and we went zip-lining at night. It was dark, the trees whipped by you. It was kinda scary!” And, like any good middle school retreat, the leaders brought lots of food. Each small group was in charge of a meal. Nathan and the kids were surprised when leader Trey Warren, who recently moved back to Austin and started helping with youth, threw together all the leftover ingredients on Sunday morning for a delicious breakfast taco feast. “Trey’s a trained culinary chef so it was great!” Nathan said. The four additional leaders on the trip were Emme Covert, Olivia Smith, Rob Bishop and Savannah Terry. The camp was cleaned up and the kids were back at Covenant by noon Sunday, filled with good news and good memories of a great weekend.

“My kids were exhausted and they smelled like a big campfire,” Gayla Stuart said of her seventh and eighth grade children. “They had a blast!” Nathan said afterward: “I have high hopes that we’re building something up, building a community that’s not just a bunch of random kids coming to church. I want this to be a safe place for them to share authentic community and a place where they

can truly be themselves. They don’t have to put on fronts or fake who they are.” Covenant seventh and eighth graders meet every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. They also have their D*Now weekend retreat coming up on Jan. 17–19. Contact Nathan at for more information.

NEW WAYS TO WORSHIP Worship isn’t just singing. There are many ways to worship God, Covenant high school students learned when Student Ministries Assistant Whitney Bell put together a “worship experience” on a recent Wednesday night.

looking at the beautiful city that we live in, we can see God. Romans talks about how creation points us to God,” Whitney said. Before moving to the second station, the students wrote a prayer of thanksgiving to God and the ways they adore Him.

“It was a fantastic meeting,” Whitney said. “The kids know that worship doesn’t have to look one way; it is different and constant. It is our lives; our lives are worship.”

The second station provided information about the distractions, the things that keep people from focusing on God. The kids were challenged to figure out what their distractions are. They sprinkled sand on a paper plate, wrote their distractions in the sand and then wiped them away. “This created a visual for the students and reminded us that it is a daily practice to not allow the things around us to distract us from God,” Whitney said.

The “worship experience” consisted of six stations. Each student received a worship packet as they entered the room. They were asked to be quiet, to experience one-on-one time with God, and at the same time, be in community with their peers. “It was really each student and the Lord, but everybody was doing that at the same time,” Whitney explained. At the first station, students looked out a window of the fourth floor of the Fellowship and Education Building at the view of Austin. The packet informed students that one of the first ways we can worship God is through adoration. “By adoring Him and

At the third station, a cross was set up and notes spelled out what the cross symbolizes, highlighting that Christ died on the cross to rescue us from sin. The students wrote down their sins and put them on the cross. Next the students went to a water station. The packet explained that after we confess our sins, God


is faithful and just, and cleanses us. Students put their hands in the water and wiped them clean. At the fifth station, the students prayed for others. The kids lit a candle for each person they prayed for. By the end of the evening, the students had created a huge light, showing them that their prayers aren’t meaningless.

reasons for liking different stations, but the bottom line was that the worship experience had a profound impact on all those involved. “It was the coolest thing to sit back and watch our students actively engage in what God is doing,” Whitney said. “It was a meaningful reminder of the healing and unification that can come from worshiping.”

At the sixth and final station, the kids were given window markers, writing down things they are thankful for, giving prayers to God for gratitude and thanksgiving. “We created a wall of praise,” Whitney said. “It was covered by the end of the night and showed that we are all so grateful. We can worship God with an attitude of gratitude.” As the students wrapped up at the stations, Whitney told them that another way to love God is to be a Christian in the community. The students tied strings to others and said why they were thankful for each person. “By the end of the night, everybody had a least 10 strings on their wrists,” Whitney said. “Students could see that they are not only loved by God, but loved by His community.” Before leaving, each student told what his or her favorite station was, and each student had special

GOD TAKES THE WHEEL Emily Banks is 15 years old. She started traveling to Zambia as part of the Covenant mission team when she was 12. This summer marked her fourth year. Each year, she learns something new; this year was 10

no exception as she was called on to wear many hats. This is her story. This year was my fourth trip to Zambia, and it was by far the most unique. Everything was new

and untried. We were in a new area, and we had no real plans. Due to the small size of our team (five people), we were forced to sit back and let God take the wheel. This trip was a mash-up of

all the different sides of our mission. Depending on the need, we had to switch roles. I worked as a pharmacist, a triage nurse, a story teller and an evangelist. When I wasn’t needed as pharmacist, I played with the children. When there were no adults, I led children’s ministry. God led me this year by teaching me to hand over the reins. The most rewarding part of this trip was to see the faces of

and girls to play together. It was extremely satisfying to see sick babies smile and giggle as my mom treated them while I made silly faces.

all the children as I worked to include them. From toddlers to teens, I tried to get them to join the games. I even got the boys

Gathering the huge groups of children and watching them grow throughout the day made my heart warm. I’m so glad that I get the chance to go do what I do, and bring smiles to the faces of people from around the world. SUBMITTED BY EMILY BANKS

RAY’S WRECKING CREW After about 30 years of doing odd jobs around the church, Ray Thompson is hanging up his toolbelt. Ray is Covenant’s founding member of the Wrecking Crew, the group of four or five men who meet weekly (or more) at the church to fix stuff. “I’m not sure when we first started using the Wrecking Crew name,” Ray said, “but I got started around 1983 or 1984, just about the time I retired from IBM. Our minister at that time asked if I would help with some of the issues at the church.” Richard Vanderstraten, who has been part of the crew for nearly 20 years, says that Ray deserves all the credit for the idea and much of the work. “For a while it was just Ray on Friday morning by himself. He decided he needed a little help and asked me and others along the way. Some are still active,

others have dropped out, but it has always been Ray’s Wrecking Crew.” Darleen Kleinhenz, executive assistant to the Covenant business administrator, has worked closely with Ray for many years. “Friday mornings have always been my favorite time because the Wrecking Crew is guaranteed to be on campus. From a simple request like hanging a picture to the more complex requests like building a set for vacation Bible school, the Wrecking Crew is always up to the challenge and never says no!” Darleen said. Over the three decades that Ray has been fixing things at the church, he says there have been no particularly bad jobs. “Using really tall ladders to replace burned out light bulbs at the high beams of the buildings is challenging,” he said.


Ray said that his favorite jobs have the electronics elements – such as sound systems. “Ray is amazing,” Darleen said. “He knows everything about our campus, from where the water and gas meters are to what kinds of bulbs are in all the light fixtures. As an electrical engineer, he would often determine the cause of an electrical issue on campus and take care of it himself.” Darleen said it was Ray who determined that many of our members could benefit from hearing aid devices to ensure they did not miss a word of the worship service. “He not only made sure we

had them available during our services,” she said, “he made himself available to help with any questions and assist as needed. You can still find Ray on Sunday mornings getting those devices in order.” Ray said that the Wrecking Crew currently has four people. In addition to Richard, Dave Hoffman, Jim Abbott and Juan Medrano meet at Covenant on Friday mornings, the crew’s regular meeting time. “We have worked consistently on Friday mornings,” Ray said. “However, there are many times when something comes up that needs to be done on other days. Richard takes care of a lot of them!” “I am so grateful to Ray and can’t even begin to express how special he is,” Darleen said. “He gives of his time, his talents and his heart. I have watched his kindness toward members, staff and even complete strangers. I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to work with and learn from him.”

CREATIVE FOOD FUN The task sounded ho-hum, thought Stacy Curtis as she started out on her Day of Service project to help Street Youth Ministry (SYM) by preparing meals. She envisioned a couple hours of her and other volunteers, mostly members of the Journey Choir, making sandwiches. She was wrong!


“This project was a super creative,” she said. “Everyone had a chance to be imaginative. We got to look at the food and ask: ‘What are we going to do with it?’” The food was the leftovers from Wheatsville Coop. The coop donates all its almost-compostable foods, most of which is just not quite up to federal standards —expired dates on produce or

bread, cans that are damaged on the outside or bags that are squashed. “If it’s rotten, you compost it, but most of it was really good food,” Stacy said. “It was all stuff that I would put on my table.” Stacy’s team of eight kids from the Journey Choir and three adult

volunteers had lots of cucumbers, and just out-of-date breads, fruits and other vegetables. The team sorted the produce and decided what could be eaten fresh and what should be cooked. The volunteers divided into groups and made breakfast, lunch and dinner.

something away and saw that they were all surrounding SYM mission lead Terry Cole, who was telling them about all the ways to help street youth.

The kids came back in, helped with the rest of the clean-up and said, “We need to have a whole day to help the street youth!” That plan is in the works.

“The groups really came together. The ingenuity used to come up with recipes was amazing,” said Journey Choir member Emily Banks. “We learned to make pickles, stir fry and kale chips.” After a couple of hours of work that went by very quickly, Stacy was a bit frustrated when the kids disappeared at clean-up. She wandered outside to throw

LIFE LESS HECTIC I’m a first-time Mom to a precious baby girl. She is my everything and I want to make sure she has all the knowledge and willpower to grow into an independent, responsible woman. So, I attended my first parenting workshop, YOUR Extraordinary Family, hosted by Covenant Presbyterian Preschool and Child’s Day Out in early November. Carrie Contey, Ph.D., led the workshop and she had all the 25 or so moms in the room immediately intrigued with her methodology on how to create more ease, joy, connection and love every single day.

Carrie gave us ways to parent that are based on new brain and nervous system research. Basically, our children’s brains have three versions: human–learning, mammal–feeling and reptile–fearing. All babies are born with the reptile brain, which is needed to survive in the wild. By the time a baby reaches his first birthday, all three sections have developed. Carrie provided tips and tools on how to recognize and deal with each one. For example, when a child is whining, resisting and/or not listening, she is in her mammal–feeling brain, and it is best to empathize, stop talking and connect by making eye-to-eye, skin-to-skin and heart-to-heart contact. If a child is 13

screaming and biting, this is the reptile brain, and you simply need to stop what you are doing. If you are in the grocery store—leave. When a child is in a human–learning brain, it is the best time to talk, teach and play.

preschool will host its next parent education event on Jan. 29, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. when Ashley Ellison, LCSW, provides a Love and Logic overview. SUBMITTED BY HILARY PITTMAN, COVENANT’S NEW WEBMASTER AND GRAPHIC ARTIST. CONTACT HER AT

“It is best to try not to freak out when your baby is stressed,” Carrie said. “Slow down and be calm because if they sense you freaking out, they think they should freak out.”


She did not proclaim that her methods are easy. They take time and focus. Sometimes you might have to miss out on the playdate or party because your child can’t handle going. We all learned something about ourselves, our children and our families. This is information I will value for years to come. Carrie’s teachings fit well with Proverbs 22:6: “Start a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” If you missed the workshop and want to learn more, check out Carrie’s website at The

RING CHEER TO CUBA Several years ago I read an article about “Travel with a Purpose” and sent an inquiry asking if I could use my music background during a mission. I didn’t receive a response. Time and circumstances intervened until spring 2012 when Tammy Linn did a Minute for Mission about the Cuba trip. Of course, I had attended the Concierto for Cuba 14

and loved the music, and had heard many people talk about their experiences. It was then I realized that this might be the opportunity I was seeking.

brothers and sisters there. Cheryl Banks was also going on the trip. Since she also played the hand chimes, I thought she and I would be able to demonstrate.

On Monday, Oct. 28, we left for Cuba. I was taking a case of hand chimes for the church in Luyanó and was looking forward to introducing this instrument to our

After we arrived, I realized the best way to introduce the chimes was to play something for the youth event. I assumed the youth would be a group of teens and

young adults in their early twenties. Imagine my surprise when we walked into a room full of people from children to octogenarians! They had so much fun singing, dancing and playing games. I asked several choir members if they would also play chimes at the event. They cheerfully agreed, gaining the nickname Cheerful Chimers. We played some simple songs and invited anyone who wanted to try the chimes to join in. Pastor Daniel had mentioned that “his plans were for the chimes to be a magnet for older youth and young adults.” I was so excited when a rush of people joined us. The Cheerful Chimers played at the

Sunday service, too. We played “Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore” on chimes, accompanied by violins, singing and piano. The people at Luyano are the most loving, friendly people I have met in a very long time. We had many opportunities to meet, study and play with them. While we provided service when we were there, it was not in the sense that

many equate with mission trips. They know that Covenant loves them and we certainly felt loved by them. SUBMITTED BY LINDA RUTHERFORD

CLERK’S CORNER Session has been busy with personnel and budget matters, as two of Covenant’s outstanding and devoted staff directors submitted their resignations. We hope everyone will express their gratitude to Beth Bishop and Gayla Stuart for their faithful service to this church. We look forward to seeing how God will use them for His purposes as they move into new roles. Stacey Grooms will fill the position of interim director of Children and Preteen Ministries until we call our new pastor. We will not fill the lay ministries position at this time. In terms of budget issues, the Session is concerned about 2013 giving. Pledge receipts are behind where we would expect them to be. We urge all

to fulfill their 2013 promises. Each Session member has committed to increase giving in 2013 by an amount equal to one month’s worth of pledge. We encourage and challenge the congregation to do the same. We face a shortfall even though we are working to save expenses. Dealing with that shortfall has implications for our 2014 budget. God is at work at Covenant and we encourage each member and visitor to support the programs, ministries and


outreach that can make such a difference in Austin and around the world.

CHRISTMAS POINSETTIA ORDER FORM Donor: Phone: In Memory of: or In Honor of: Total Number of Plants:

@ $15 each

Total Enclosed $ Cut out and return this form to Covenant Hall by Friday, Dec. 13, to assure acknowledgement in the bulletin. Contact Mary Helen Mitchell with questions at or (512) 334-3018.

FINANCE REPORT Financial Update

For Period Ended October 31, 2013

GENERAL FUND Revenues Expenses* Net Surplus (Deficit)

YTD Actual

YTD Budget

YTD Variance

Annual Budget

2,125,999 2,293,800 (167,801)

2,241,232 2,469,099 (227,867)

(115,233) (175,299) 60,066

2,875,000 2,944,928 (69,928)

BUILDING FUND Gifts Received Principal Payments Total Loan Balance

YTD $112,662 87,141 7,411,228

*Loan interest costs are included in General Fund Expenses. If $1,700,000 loan was extinguished, Covenant could save $50,000 each year in interest costs. Please remember to support the building fund.


Mission Presbytery met at MoRanch in October. Nine Covenant commissioners participated. Meeting highlights included a Manos de Cristo presentation about its new dental clinic and the examination of two candidates for ordination. Don Davis was elected to serve on the Pastoral Care Committee and Interim Associate Pastor Munn Hinds was elected to the Mission Outreach and Justice Committee. Mo-Ranch President Dick Powell encouraged us to visit the Texas Hill Country Mo-Ranch anytime. In November, we met with the deacons for our annual joint event. After a worship service, we shared where we saw the hand of God opening or closing doors in our own lives and in our faith community. We encouraged each other to care for the congregation and one another in this time of ongoing transition. While we wait for God’s perfect timing in the calling of our next senior pastor, we continue to be the hands and feet of Christ. BLESSINGS,




Sunday, Dec. 1 at worship services

Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary



Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 10 a.m. in FE 200

Thursday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. in FE 200

Wednesday, Dec. 24 3 p.m. Sanctuary 5 p.m. for young kids in Sanctuary 6:30 p.m. for older kids in Sanctuary 6:30 p.m. Contemporary Service in FE 200 8:30 p.m. Candlelight Service in Sanctuary 10:30 p.m. Candlelight Service in Sanctuary



Sunday, Dec. 8 at 12:15 p.m. in FE 200

Tuesday, Jan. 7, 10 a.m. in FE 200



Sunday, Dec. 8 at 5:30 p.m. in FE 200

Wednesday, Jan. 8



Monday, Dec. 9, San Antonio

Wednesday, Jan. 8 6:30 p.m. in FE 200



Sunday, Dec. 15, 4:30 p.m. in FE 200

Saturday, Jan. 11–Feb. 22, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., FE 400



Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 11:45 p.m. in FE 200

Friday, Jan. 17–Sunday, Jan. 19



Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary

Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 11:45 a.m. in FE 200


Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 5:30 p.m. in Eaton Hall ARMCHAIR TRAVELERS


3003 Northland Drive Austin, TX 78757









Breece Adams Marilyn Adams Matt Bair Donna Barksdale Lynn Bell Steve Bissell Julie Bou Allan Carmichael Lynda Chapman Jay Corder Cara Cotham Jim Foster Jacquez “Joc” Gaines Bretna Hackert Bonnie Hartmann 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 James Marroquin Emily McGinnis Gwen Morton Patrick Schmidt Gary Vliet Becky Wells Sharyn Westmoreland Paul Wynkoop

Mike Austin Jennifer Carsner Jane Crowe Kay Davenport Dustin Johnson Michael Knisely Bill McCaleb Andrea Moen Julie Moore Ken Moore Jennifer Palm Ryan Palm Bob Peterson Cherry Raley Jack Skaggs Allison Small Bridgette Stahlman Emily Taylor Gwyn Theodore Donna Thomas Steve Thomas Kristen Tritle Kathy Willis Shannon Windham

Joy Durrant Jeff Horn Jan Skaggs Laura Tuma Clark Weatherby

Don Davis Evangeline Herring Chuck Ruesink Melanie Williamson Cindy Young

Paul Askenasy Jennifer Maham Deb Rieber John Ruwwe Frank Sheppard




Dianne Erlewine

Dave Ferguson Jack Kern Mary Teeple

Larry Faulkner JoAnne McIntosh Tana Taylor

PROGRAM STAFF Thomas W. Brown, Director of Music Ministry Duane Dube, Director of Administration Munn Hines, Interim Associate Pastor for Age and Stage Ministries William Leonhardt, Director of Student Ministries Christy Milam, Director of Preschool John Schmidt, Organist Stephanie Schultz, Director of Communications Gayla Stuart, Director of Children’s and Preteen Ministries Jill Williams, Associate Pastor for Congregational Care Ministries


This month read about the gift of joy, Stewardship, changes with Covenant staff, Zambia, parenting,...