Cornerstone Covenant Presbyterian Church | october 2013
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 Melanie Williamson Business Administrator Duane Dube Editor Stephanie Schultz Design and Layout
Content includes the Pastorâ€™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 covenant.org/publications. We will update the Cornerstone blog as we receive content at blog.covenant.org.
We need you! Contributing Writers Cheryl banks, Trinity black, Matt Dow, Susan Holman, Nathan Richards, Samantha Sipowicz, Melanie Williamson Photography Cheryl banks, Nathan Richards, Stephanie Schultz 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 canâ€™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 email@example.com or stop by the office in Covenant Hall.
stone 2 Vision for covenant
12 Generational Discipleship
Sharing Christ’s Abundant Love 3 This Is Why …
Passing Down Passion About God 13 God’s Plan
Where our money goes when we give 4 Smooth Transitions
New Experiences Every Day in Zambia 15
Job Workshops and Support 5 Kids Helping Kids
Session Update 16 Finance Report
Covenant Kid’s Programs Give $2,500 7 Volunteer Spotlight
Meet Dave and Georgia Meade
For the period ended August 31, 2013 17
Calendar of Events
See what’s coming up this fall
8 Room at Your Inn?
Be a Host this Christmas 10
PW Honors Women
Serving the Lord with Faith and Love 11 The PW Challenge
Pat Fine Pays it Forward
Table of Contents 1
Vision for covenant While the Bible includes numerous visions for the “Church”, that is, Christ followers in every place and time, the Covenant Session has been working to develop a vision for our particular congregation at this particular time. This “statement of possibility” is intended to help guide Covenant in making decisions about the ministries and activities we support.
to share our progress and invite feedback. We were relieved to learn that in their own process, the staff encountered many of the same stumbling blocks, but supported the Session and where it was leading. The important point is that the Session is providing leadership to the staff and congregation—that is our role and responsibility.
The Session began this process last April when the Elders shared our answers to the questions, “what declaration of possibility has the most power to move you and Covenant? What excites or burdens you at this crossroads?” Our answers converged around three threads: abundant community, abundant passion for God and abundant mission. In May, each of us sought to own our part of the reason that Covenant had not already reached the possibilities we had declared. There was much self-disclosure and vulnerability as we shared how we had contributed to the very things we wanted to see change.
With that feedback and a promise to avoid the words “vision” and “mission” in favor of coming up with “a picture of the future that creates passion in people,” we all contributed brief (or not so brief) statements for consideration. It seems we voted on every word, not always in perfect agreement, but the final product was unanimously approved.
We explored doubts and reservations in June and during a two-part retreat in July, we were to finally articulate and commit to a statement of possibility. Since only a portion of the Session able to attend each part, it was challenging to reach consensus, and we seemed to become wrapped up in the definitions, semantics and various uses of the terms mission and vision. After our second meeting, it became ‘abundantly’ clear that we were not ready to vote on the statement we had generated in July. Because it was important that we all be together for further work on the vision, Session called a special meeting on Aug. 28 to harness the wisdom and discernment of the entire body. In the meantime, two Session members attended a program staff meeting 2
So, you ask, just what is this statement of possibility? It is:
Joyfully sharing Christ’s abundant and transforming love with all people
Each of those words has layers of meaning that we look forward to exploring as this vision permeates the worship, service, evangelism, fellowship and discipleship of Covenant’s mission statement. We have more work to do, but that’s the direction the Session is going, and we hope you’ll come along. Grace and Peace,
This Is Why … Stewardship season: Two words that usually make me run and hide. I start thinking, “Time for lots of sermons about tithing; I already give enough!” It’s not necessarily true, but that’s my kneejerk reaction. Maybe this stewardship season will be different. Covenant’s stewardship theme is “This is Why.” We will hear about Covenant is doing in the community and in the world, and where the money we give goes. For example, we have these great buildings. Did you know our facilities are used for 11 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings each week? Covenant’s noon meetings often exceed 100 people, all participants working together to overcome addiction. God is central to their discussions, as members take steps to turn their will and their lives over to His care.
private school practice volleyball, and Boy Scouts use the gym, too. Covenant-hosted Upward Basketball brings hundreds of families without church homes to Covenant to learn about basketball, teamwork and Jesus Christ.
So much good stuff goes on every day of the week on Covenant’s campus. “This is Why” we built the education building—to reach beyond our four walls and touch the community with love in response to the grace of Jesus.
I haven’t mentioned our cooperative Christian preschool that nurtures more than 100 young minds and bodies daily, or the exercise classes for people with Parkinson’s. Covenant hosts English as a Second Language classes for immigrants and participates in the Interfaith Hospitality Network. Homeless families come several times each year and stay for a week in Eaton Hall, finding love, food, shelter and the abundant love of Jesus.
I will try to listen this stewardship season and remember all my blessings come from God and He asks only that I trust Him enough to give back 10 percent of what he has given me. I will try to keep an open mind and ask myself, “What will be my response to God’s radical and crazy love?” Submitted by Matt Dow
What about the gym? Do you remember the skinned knees of years past when the youth played flag football in the parking lot? Our gym serves Covenant youth and their friends. Adults use the facilities for fellowship and exercise; parents of young children meet during the summer to let preschoolers play in an air-conditioned space; children at a nearby 3
Smooth Transitions Over the last five years, Covenant’s Career Transitions has provided free workshops and support for more than 500 people who are unemployed, nervously employed or looking to make a career transition. The program started as a result of the financial downturn, said David Hughen, Covenant’s Career Transitions leader and human resources consultant. “We had a compelling interest to do something to provide support and services to our immediate church family and the broader Austin community.” Half a decade later, the program continues “due to the fact that the job market is different now,” David said. “Business cycles are shorter than ever. Dell may be hiring on one side of campus and firing on the other. Constant churn is now part of the landscape.” In the program’s infancy, David was joined by human resources professionals Nancy Rumbo and Nelson Mann, and by Robert Rhea who at the time was seeking employment. Jill Williams has consistently provided faith-based grounding for the program. David, Nancy and Jill remain active in the program. David lines up the speakers, taking advantage of the networking he does through his company, Austin HR, his knowledge of area speakers and employment trends. Nancy is the administrative side of the program. She does everything to get each session up and running, keeping it all organized by tracking participants and program metrics. The Career Transitions team makes the sessions very relevant, providing current tools and discussing popular trends so participants can leave the 4
program and immediately put something into place. “We are not theoretical,” David said. “We are very practical.” Some of the topics covered include age-old standards like resume writing and interviewing. Other speakers educate participants on using LinkedIn and creating your personal brand. An always-popular session discusses the psychological effects of being unemployed. That session is led by Tommy Chiodo, who after losing his job, suffered from depression. Ultimately, that time in his life energized him to seek treatment and pursue his own practice.
Faith-based Career Programs Attending church is not a requirement for participants. “While the program is energized by Christian faith and Presbyterian sensibility, we open our doors with very wide arms to the entire Austin community,” David said.
“It’s really a place where people from the community can come and feel welcome,” Nancy added. “Almost every time we hold the class, we have people from many faiths and seekers; it really runs the gamut,” Jill said. “When you’re in a crisis, you’re more open to healing opportunities; to coming to the church for help and support.” Jill said that one of her favorite parts of the class is the discussion that happen after the meeting ends. “A job loss can cause a person to doubt his or her worth, and uncertainty has emotional, spiritual and psychological implications,” Jill said. “This is a great opportunity to find a spiritual connection and offer encouragement; to speak to a participant’s value and worth, and affirm his identity.”
Covenant Career Transitions partners with similar Christian-based career assistance programs in town, each spreading the word about the others. “Lots of churches are committed to making employment help part of their outreach; Grace Covenant and Hill Country Bible—the largest faith-based career transitions ministry, come to mind. We also work with the Launch Pad Job Club and Texas Workforce Solutions. We get lots of referrals. David said that the program has maintained a steady class size between 30 and 45 participants. “As long as we are facing an ongoing need and folks keep showing up, we’ll keep offering the class.” David and Nancy both said they feel honored to be a part of the program. “This is my passion,” Nancy said, “getting people back to work.”
Kids Helping Kids In mid-August, Covenant children attending Club 56 Mission Camp presented the Presbyterian Children’s Home and Services (PCHAS) with a check for $2,500. Ed Knight, PCHAS president and CEO, was grateful for the contribution and thrilled with the care that the area kids showed. “Those of us who work with kids who can’t live in their own homes truly care for them,” Knight said. “It means a lot to us that these kids from Covenant care too.”
Covenant Director of Children and Preteen Ministries Gayla Stuart explained that most of the money was raised during Covenant’s vacation Bible school in mid-June. “ Last year, we raised money to buy mosquito nets for the children of Mali and we learned that our kids are really motivated to help other kids. This year, we took that motivation to help kids right in our own backyard!” Gayla said Covenant kids raised money by having lemonade stands and selling tickets to music shows. They donated tooth
fairy and birthday money, and emptied their own piggy banks. Trinity Black is a fifth grader who attends Covenant’s Club 56. She was a member of the group who presented PCHAS with the check. Before visiting the PCHAS office, the Club 56 group learned more about the PCHAS through videos and discussions. Trinity wrote a blog entry for PCHAS and this newsletter after the group presented the money to the charity. “The PCHS videos gave me a picture of someone else’s life. I 5
thought about how hard it would be to be in their shoes and only get to see my parents during visitor hours, instead of every day. They looked like such loving kids. I was sad to see they had ended up in that situation. I knew it took a lot of courage for the kids to go on video and tell their stories. They looked like, because of PCHAS, they were living somewhere that made them happy and where people took care of them. I felt proud of them for being able to speak up and gain control of their
situations. PCHAS seemed like a family. They loved them and took care of them just like a family. I like that PCHAS takes in those kids who need help, and that the people at PCHS decided to spend their lives helping people. They chose to follow the path of God instead of choosing a job that made a lot more money. The people that help the children at PCHAS are courageous and strong, just like the children they are helping. I donated money and helped out PCHAS because I want to give
children that I can help whatever I can, because if this situation were switched, they would do the same. I did chores to raise money. Earning money to help others felt better than buying a new pair of shoes. The people at PCHS were very welcoming. I felt like giving them that money could really make a difference in the lives of the PCHAS families. This was amazing, like trying something for the first time, like bungee jumping. You feel good about it afterwards. Submitted by Trinity Black
Volunteer Spotlight Dave Meade can’t remember how long he’s been ushering at Covenant. “Forever!” he said, and it seems like a pretty good guess! When he stopped to count the years, Dave said he’s been ushering at Covenant since George Claddis was senior pastor so it’s been at least 20 years. For most of that time, Dave has served as head usher. He ensures that Covenant has ushers for all Sunday morning worship and memorial services. “I don’t have a problem finding ushers for 9:30. I think we’ve got folks who’ve been doing that service for nearly 30 years. Our 8:15 team has been doing it for as long as I’ve been here. But it’s challenging to keep the 11 o’clock service spots filled,” Dave said. While Dave doesn’t go to every service, he’s at the church to make sure things are running smoothly by 8:30 on Sunday morning. “I put all the bulletins in place and generally greet the 8:15 congregants as they leave. After ushering at 9:30, I stick around until the start of the next service.
This includes setting up, serving, cleaning up and packing leftovers for the next funeral. Dave’s list of Covenant volunteer activities is long: He worked on the administration committee for more than 10 years, served on the VISIONS trip committee and led Armchair Travelers. Over this past summer, Dave and Georgia were at the church on Fridays, printins bulletins for Sunday services. Georgia retired just four years ago after 32 at the Department of Labor’s OSHA office, so her Covenant volunteer list is not as long as Dave’s, but she’s on campus a lot. In addition to critical help with bulletins, Georgia is a regular at Christian Yoga, works the snack station every summer at VBS and has helped input attendance records. The couple is together at the church for several other activities: They attend Kairos and Armchair
“And I’ve been to almost every funeral in the church for the past 20 years!” Dave said. “I’ve seen a lot of moments as an usher; some have been really sad…” “…and some have been joyous,” Georgia, Dave’s wife of 52 years, finished his sentence. Georgia helps at all the funerals as well. She works with others to ensure that the receptions go smoothly. 7
Travelers, and they don’t miss the “I don’t cook on Wednesday Night” group that carries Wednesday night dinners through the summer.
The Move to Covenant Dave and Georgia have been at Covenant since 1966 when they moved to Austin. Their pastor in Fort Worth recommended that they attend Westminster Presbyterian Church. “We never made it there,” David said. “I meat a Covenant member and who suggested we try Covenant. It was a lot closer to our house.” “And it was brand new. Eaton Hall was only two years old,” Georgia said.
Over the years, the couple has seen a lot of changes at the church. “The members of the church are our family. That’s why we stay. They are what is important to us,” both agreed. And about those 52 years of marriage: Dave and Georgia only dated for five weeks and three days before they we were married. “We had a formal wedding!” Georgia said. “And planned it that quickly!” The couple has one daughter, Michelle, who was the first infant ever placed by the Presbyterian Children’s Home and Adoption Agency. Their two grandsons were baptized at Covenant by Doug Harper.
Room at Your Inn? The ‘wonder’ of Christmas is usually described as children’s laughter when opening presents or of snowy “white Chirstmas” landscapes. The most “wonder-filled” moment for me of recent holiday seasons was celebrating the birth of Jesus with an adult who’d never heard the story before. As Christians, we assume everyone knows the Christmas story. But you’d be surprised. My eyes were opened while hosting a 21-year-old woman—a college, foreign-exchange student named Yuxuan Zhou—through the Christmas International House program. This bright, 8
intrepid traveler moved across the globe to attend the University of Michigan in 2012. Her move was her first-ever visit to the U.S. She wasn’t used to the snow,
was attending a very challenging university and struggling with conversational English. And here she was, spending the holidays with strangers in the strange land
of Texas. Her “leap of faith” and willingness to undertake another new experience were remarkable, as was her openness to hearing the story about a baby born in a manger 2,000 years ago. As our congregation sang Away in a Manger, the lights were lowered and we all stood holding candles. I saw her eyes fill with wonder as she looked at those around her singing in unison. It was captivating for her and humbling for me. This tradition was unfamiliar and new for her. As a result, it renewed my joy at the marvel of the story, at the meaning of the carols, and of the joy of freely worshipping a baby boy who changed the world then … and now. What an honor to introduce her to our Lord who we peacefully worship, whom she is not allowed to worship in her home country. What a revelation for us both! Yuxuan Zhou’s name is difficult to pronounce. She suggested we call her by her “American” name Alyssa. Incredibly smart yet quite innocent, Alyssa navigated fluidly through the culture and customs of a foreign country. The concept of Christianity, the noisiness of living among a big family, the effusiveness of Americans were new to her, yet she embraced our differences. Her solitary life in China was somber, an only child raised by her grandmother. After
a while, Yuxuan’s shyness wore off. She enjoyed being with us in the kitchen where we laughed, listened to music, and cooked with all the hustle and bustle of the holiday spirit. She fit right in. adding much to our discussions about her Chinese customs, foods and lifestyle. The CIH program, jointly facilitated by hosted Covenant Presbyterian and Central Presbyterian Church, last Christmas hosted eight international students from Korea, Malaysia, China and more. The students embraced the opportunity to see the world. Previously, our family hosted a married couple from China. Each time we host, we enrich our own lives by giving and receiving. Jesus modeled hospitality and it’s a meaningful season to open your home and your hearts to a stranger. By the end of her visit, Alyssa was like a sister to my James and Jocelyn, and a daughter to me. During our time with Alyssa, she became a part of our home, church and family. On our tour of Austin, we climbed 100 steps to view the scenery on Mt. Bonnell. We toured the University of Texas, shopped at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, viewed houses decorated in Christmas lights, hiked Ladybird Lake, and toured
San Antonio. We took in a country square dance at an authentic Longhorn ranch while eating delicious Texas BBQ. We cheered for the Longhorn men’s basketball team. We picked out fresh vegetables at the farmer’s market at the Barton Creek Mall parking lot. (The girls preferred shopping inside the mall. That’s an international trait that transcends borders!) The last evening together is a highlight. The students prepare a potluck supper of authentic food from their home countries for host families and present about their homeland. Please consider hosting a student this holiday season. The excuse that it’s a hectic time of the year is actually one of the best reasons to have a new face around to learn the traditions and feel a part of an American home. God’s grace will, undoubtedly, bless you with whatever extra time or resources you need. It’s simply a week or two commitment. Long-time host Kay Macdonald encouraged me to open my home, reminding me that Jesus didn’t require much—just a stable. Contact Maggie Tate at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. submitted by Samantha Sipowicz
PW Honors Women Covenant recognized Paulette Kern and Sharyn Westmoreland as Honorary Life Members in Presbyterian Women. In the 10 years that Covenant has been conferring this award, 15 women have been recognized for their contributions to the church. Paulette and Shayrn are like the well-known sisters of the Bible, Martha and Mary, demonstrating love, faith and energy in service to the Lord and to Covenant. In fact, they are “sisters” in the Deborah Circle, which Paulette helped organize. Paulette, who worked as an pediatrics nurse and later helped a friend start a catering business, has two passions: helping kids improve their spiritual lives and feeding people. As a Lamplighter leader, she helped start the Little Lambs program. She and husband Jack have opened their home to several youth interns over the years. Paulette helped start and continues to work on the Manos Back-toSchool project, and is active with Florence’s Comfort House after-school care. Known as the “Dessert Lady” for the Wednesday dinners, her food ministry is legendary and she spearheads a yearly deepclean of the kitchen. She has travelled as cook/ mom/nurse with youth on mission trips, and has been a steadfast supporter of our Cuba Luyano mission, including teaching VBS. Paulette has served on many committees: chair of missions, moderator and circle chair of PW, women’s retreat. She is currently a senior pastor nominating committee member. Sharyn is a powerhouse of good works at Covenant and in the community. As one PW member said, “What has Sharyn not done? She is a tireless servant and a role model for all sisters in Christ.” Sharyn was drawn to Covenant through the
preschool where she served as president when her children were young. She taught Sunday school and was very involved in Covenant’s children and youth activities as her girls grew up in the church. She was also active in parent organizations at all levels of public school. Her devotion to Covenant has involved nearly every committee and administrative position including many terms as a deacon and elder, moderator of the diaconate, finance, youth and most recently, chair of worship. She is a member of Deborah Circle, Lamplighters and Monday Morning Disciple Bible study. Sharyn facilitates Walking the Mourner’s path and belongs to the intercessory prayer group. These women live out the word of James, “for as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead,” by toiling tirelessly, not for recognition or praise, but from a deep love of Christ. The PW thanks these ladies for sharing their talents and for the ways they continue to give to Covenant. Submitted by Susan Holman
The PW Challenge As the women at Covenant begin a new year of Bible studies and mission, they have cause for special celebration. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Presbyterian Women (PW) in its current mode. The women of the Presbyterian Church have been a “force to be reckoned with” since the early days when a man was sent to open their gatherings with an invocation because “no one knew what the women would pray for if they prayed alone.” Today, the PW carries out its purpose through prayer and Bible study, and seeks to make the world a better place through a Christian response to issues such as human trafficking, violence against women and much more. Since 1983, Presbyterian Women have supported the work of the church with a mission pledge of $70 million, and given grants to projects all over the world with donations of $44 million. Presbyterian Women is the single largest donor to the unrestricted funds of the PC(USA).
for women (and men) to donate $25 to help continue the work of the last 25 years. Covenant members have an extra incentive to participate. Long-time member Pat Fine has promised to match all Covenant donations up to $1,000. This is Pat’s way of “paying it forward” from a serendipitous experience at Denny’s. She and her husband, Don, had gone for brunch and shared their unused coupons with a nearby table. When they got ready to pay their bill, they were surprised to find it had been taken care of—by that very same table. The Fines expressed their gratitude; the family just said, “pay it forward.” Hearing about the work of PW at Covenant and in the larger church, Pat was inspired to offer her challenge. Donations to the campaign will be accepted through Nov. 15, with check made to Covenant Presbyterian with PW challenge in the memo. Contact Alice Weatherby, (512) 345-2408 or email@example.com, for more information.
Take the PW Challenge
Girls Night Out
The PW invite all out for good food, great fun and grand fellowship, and especially hope those women who are not available for daytime events will attend. Come for dinner, and stay for the entertainment, “Sinful Sisters and Fallen Floozies,” presented by a troupe of our New Covenant Presbytery thespians. No reservations are needed for dinner but diners can take advantage of free childcare through firstname.lastname@example.org. Spread the word and bring a friend. All women are welcome. For more information, contact Suzanne McIntosh (512) 431-0221 or email@example.com. Submitted by Susan Holman
Presbyterian Women (PW) worldwide are celebrating the 25th anniversary with a challenge
Presbyterian Women will host the annual Girls Night Out on Thursday, Oct. 24, at 6:30 p.m. 11
Generational Discipleship Party on the Patio marked my one year anniversary at Covenant. Not long ago, I was meeting people on my first day, thinking, “There is no way I’m going to remember all these names.” I am Covenant’s Associate Director of Middle School Ministry; I spend a lot of time with 7th and 8th grade students. I also see an aspect of Covenant I’m not sure everyone gets to see. I hope to share a little of that here specifically the ways I see generational discipleship at Covenant. Generational discipleship—the way each generation passes down knowledge and passion about God to the next generation—is something I am passionate about. The Bible is full of examples; one of my favorites is in Deuteronomy 6. After 40 years of wandering the desert, God begins to give the Israelites the 10 Commandments so that if they obey them: “It might go well with them and their children forever!” The Israelites are so afraid of God’s might and glory that they ask Moses to play messenger and get the commands and bring them back. Moses does, and 12
when he returns, the Israelites seem to have realized that the whole idol and disobedience thing isn’t going to work, and they are open to what Moses says: Deuteronomy 6:1-2, 6:6-9: “These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.” Later he says: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about
them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. ...” Moses knew that if the Israelites were going to change and if the new promise land was going to be a place where God is glorified, the next generation must know God is and his commands. This happens at Covenant in many ways. During the summer, Covenant offered a class called, “Raising a Modern Day Knight.” The goal was to teach dads how to have better relationships with their sons and to raise them into the kind of men they are called to be. Four generations of dads were talking about their relationships with their sons and dads. Men in
their sixties and seventies ran the class. Dads with kids in college were group leaders. Within those groups were dads with kids in high school, who were learning and encouraging those dads who had kids in elementary and preschool. And then there was me, 24 without kids, learning from these four generations of fathers It occurred to me while in the class that this was exactly what Moses had in mind. Again, at Covenant’s summer vacation Bible school, I saw a vision of what Moses talked about. Many students volunteered to help and be leaders. They danced and played, and more importantly, they shared the love of God with younger kids.
They learned what it looked like to be Godly leaders from those adults leading alongside them. In August, the church staff and some members attended a leadership conference. We were challenged with the question, “Will your faith die with your generation?” The speakers said we tend to form small groups and classes with our own generation. Instead of discipling vertically, our focus tends to be on horizontal discipleships within our group. Covenant is living out the principle of generational discipleship in some beautiful ways, but we can be challenged to do better. Are you sharing God with the next generation?
A quick response is, “I’m too old to work with that age group, or they don’t want or need me.” I’m the middle school director and I even think that sometimes. Here is what I know to be true: They need you. I need you. We need you. God’s plan for his message of salvation in Christ is to use us to share that message with the next generation – not just pastors or people who seem, “really good at that kind of thing,” but all of us who believe in the name of Christ. If you are a believer of Christ, you are a part of that message delivery system. Submitted by Nathan Richards
God’s Plan If you know me very well, you probably know that I love to plan and organize. If you have ever been on mission, you probably know it is more about letting go and letting God. “Do you know how to make God laugh? Just tell Him your plans!” This year I was the only medical person on our Zambia mission team. We usually have several doctors and we can consult each
other if we need help. The one thing I had planned not to treat while in Zambia this year was seizures. In the U.S., we refer these patients to a neurologist; I haven’t treated a seizure patient without a consult since 1989. God had a different plan. At the very first village, Katempe, a father brought in his eight-yearold son who had seizures since the age of two and had never
been treated. I talked to the father and examined the child. I told him we would come back in the morning with medicine. That night I prayed for wisdom and God’s guidance. I read about seizures in my little pediatric handbook and calculated the dose of medicine this child would need. In Namalungi, the senior headman requested that we see his ill wife. We sat down outside his 13
hut. Soon, we were sitting with eight adults and eight kids and all needed medical help. I made a list of medications and sent two team members to the car to get the prescriptions. Since we had to wait, I asked Rev. Nyirenda if we the villagers knew why we had come and if we could share the gospel. He said “Sure, good idea, go ahead.” I shared God’s story for the very first time in Zambia. The next day, we went to Chitwa. No one was there. Then a group of school children walked by on their way home. We couldn’t hold a clinic but we could talk to the kids. My daughter Emily started tossing a tennis ball around. Later, Emily read the creation story and we all made animal sounds. Then,
I read David and Goliath. Jaco volunteered to play Goliath and one of the boys played David. Every day was a new experience for each of us. Every day we got to see what God had planned. The adventures didn’t end in the villages. On Sunday, Jaco, Larry and Deb went to two baby churches to worship. Emily and I stayed in Kaoma and attended our host church. I accidentally stood at the wrong time. I looked around and was the only one standing. I quickly sat down. Pastor Manfred said, “It is time for the message and today we have an honored guest, Dr. Cheryl Banks. Would you come forward and deliver the message?” I went up and shared my devotional
from that morning. I guarantee it was the shortest sermon, ever! My adventures are just beginning. Rev. Nyirenda, a Presbyterian minister we have worked for the last eight years, is now the advisor to the CCAP Christian Women’s Guild in Zambia, the equivalent to Presbyterian Women. He invited me to attend the Christian Women’s Guild and be a resource person and speaker for their conference on “The Role of Women in Church and Society.” As I prepare and while I am in Zambia, Oct. 4–14, 2013, I ask for your prayers for this next step in my journey. submitted Cheryl Banks
Clerk’s Corner In July and August, the session diligently worked to complete the vision statement process that we began in April. (See page 1.) We also approved a recommendation from the Finance Committee to extend for 12 months one of our notes with Frost Bank that was to come due on Aug. 2, 2013. Business Administrator and COO Duane Dube successfully negotiated the extension, which will potentially allow us to make a significant reduction in principal with the proceeds of the Freeman estate bequeathed to Covenant before the note must be converted to an amortizing (principal and interest) loan. In a generous gift, the Freeman Estate made Covenant a beneficiary of the sale of some land in Round Rock. That sale closed on Friday, Sept. 7; Covenant will receive its share of the proceeds once the taxes and attorneys’ fees are paid. A prior session earmarked $350,000 for mission, and the current ruling elders will prayerfully consider how we might best steward the balance. Debt reduction is a high priority. Also in July, the session received and accepted the notice of Interim Senior Pastor Paul
Parsons pending approval by the Committee on Ministry of the Presbytery of Peaks and Plains of an interim call to First Presbyterian Church Fort Collins, Colo. Paul’s last Sunday at Covenant was Aug. 25. We had a farewell celebration of gratitude and a worship service that afternoon. Larry Rieber served as master of ceremonies. Conway Taylor bestowed the status of Honorary Texan on Paul. We sang “Blest Be the Pies that Bind,” showered Paul and Nicole with love and gifts, and ate pies provided by some excellent Covenant bakers. During the worship service, the Interim Senior Pastor Search Committee laid hands on Paul and Nicole as we prayed for them in their new marriage, new job, new city and new house(s). The service concluded with a lovely anthem by the Sanctuary Choir, “An Expression of Gratitude” based on Philippians 1:3-6. In other actions, the session approved the enrollment of Fran Langfitt and Mike Austin in the Certificate of Ministry Courses offered by Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, approved weddings and communion for various events, and invited
Rev. Tom Mitchell to campus to conduct a funeral. Guidance was given to the Stewardship Committee regarding visionbased budgeting and the timeline for the Stewardship Campaign. At our September meeting, the session approved a temporary supply contract with Rev. Becky Jones for half-time work during the fourth quarter of 2013. Becky will provide support for Jill Williams and Munn Hinds, who have taken on additional responsibilities with Paul Parsons’ departure. Becky is a child of this congregation, an ordained Presbyterian minister and missionary, and previously served on Covenant’s youth staff in earlier times. We considered a plan to 15
purchase a replacement vehicle for the gray shuttle bus, which has become mechanically unreliable, and designated a limited smoking area on campus outside the back door of the office building.
In this transition time between our interim senior pastor leaving and the calling of a new senior pastor, the session is very cognizant of its leadership role for the congregation. Our desire is to be the church, to carry on the vision
and mission of Covenant, and to prayerfully and faithfully wait for Godâ€™s providence of Covenantâ€™s next senior pastor. We hope that this is your desire as well.
Finance Report Financial Update
For Period Ended August 31, 2013
GENERAL FUND Revenues Expenses* Net Surplus (Deficit)
1,746,488 1,855,146 (108,658)
1,793,774 1,965,931 (172,157)
(47,286) 110,785 63,499
2,875,000 2,944,928 (69,928)
BUILDING FUND Gifts Received Principal Payments Total Loan Balance
YTD $91,537 69,597 7,428,772
*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.
Calendar of Events October is Meet Your Deacon month, every Sunday on the patio between services.
Senior Activities Day
Girls Night out
Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 10 a.m. in FE 200
Thursday, Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m. in FE 200
Thursday, Oct. 3 at 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 27
Middle School retreat to Mo-Ranch
Sunday, Oct. 6
Friday, Nov. 1–Sunday Nov. 3
Upward Basketball Evaluations
Senior Activities Day
Thursday, Oct. 17 at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 19 at 8:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 5 at 10 a.m in FE 200 Day of Service
Saturday Nov. 9
Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 11:45 a.m. High School Retreat to Port Aransas Commitment Sunday
Friday, Nov. 15–Sunday, Nov. 17
Sunday, Oct. 20 VISIONS Lunch Trunk or Treat
Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 11:45 p.m. in FE 200
Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 5:30 p.m. Thanksgiving Service Covenant Preschool Dad’s Pizza Night
Wednesday, Nov. 27 at noon
Thursday, Oct. 24 at 5 p.m. Church office closed
Thursday, Nov 28–Friday, Nov. 29
3003 Northland Drive Austin, TX 78757
Officers and Staff of Covenant Presbyterian Church Deacons
CLASS OF 2014
Class of 2015
CLASS OF 2016
CLASS OF 2014
Class of 2015
CLASS OF 2016
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
Foundation Trustees CLASS OF 2014
Class of 2015
Class of 2016
Dave Ferguson Jack Kern Mary Teeple
Larry Faulkner JoAnne McIntosh Tana Taylor
Program Staff Paul Parsons, Interim Senior Pastor Beth Bishop, Director of Lay Ministries 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