Blog

Season’s Preparation Starts with Hanging of the Green

Almost Three-decade Tradition is Sunday, November 28 "Christmas is coming!" Anyone who knows Covenant Director of Music Ministry Michael Shuman knows this is the motto he uses throughout the year. This time of year, we all join the chorus! A first indicator that the season is upon us is Covenant's annual Hanging of the Green service, which is Sunday, November 28, at 9:30 a.m. Congregants know this service is a beautiful tradition to start the Advent season, but every year... Read More

The New Look of Covenant

Rebrand Effort Aims to Unite Covenant’s Future with its Past Covenant is getting a new look!  Soon, visitors to campus, our website, and our additional online and print venues will experience an updated look and feel of the entire Covenant brand. Covenant’s new communications director, MP Garcia, explained the impetus for the redesign. “During Covenant’s 60-plus years, the church has withstood several iterations of leadership and gained several generations of... Read More

Rhythms and Resilience in Kids After Covid: What Now?

David Thomas Returns to Covenant to Offer Insights, Guidance   During the Covid-19 shutdown, many of our kids “went to school” at home, which meant hours spent in front of the computer and much time spent alone. This year, most of our kids are back in class. They are once again walking the halls of their schools – seeing friends and teachers. The adjustment/re-adjustment has been challenging for many. David Thomas, Director of Family Counseling at Daystar... Read More

Margin Institute Will Grant Loans to Refugees 

Combining Faith and Work, Team Founders Committed to Cause  Thomas Daniel said in a recent worship service that we live “bifurcated lives.” He explained that we often act one way with our small group or our church friends, and we act another way with our work and college friends. For the most part, he said, we are comfortable with these two separate streams.   But, he asked, “What if we live an integrated life where God has you seven days a week for a... Read More

Explore Membership This Fall

Being together again is a blessing! Joining the church can also be a blessing. At Covenant, we’ll “Explore Membership” together for four Sundays. On Sept. 12, 19, 26 and Oct. 3, potential new members will learn more about our vision statement and our people, and make connections that will help ensure a familiar face at future worship services and Covenant events. Amy Skaggs, Covenant’s visitor and new member coordinator, is eager to greet class participants... Read More

Covenant 2020 Budget Surplus Helps Area Homeless

What are the barriers to human flourishing in our city? That was the question the mission committee considered when it was tasked to determine the best way to spend $100,000 allocated to it this spring. The money was part of Covenant’s 2020 budget surplus. “Our committee members agreed that the most visible barrier is homelessness,” Mission Director Whitney Bell said. “Prop B was the biggest thing in the area news when we were discerning how to best spend this... Read More

Covenant Donation Abolishes more than $16m in Area Medical Debt

Covenant Presbyterian Church has helped 7,175 Central Texas families and individuals to have more than $16 million of their secondary medical debt forgiven. This was made possible through a $100,000 donation in spring 2020 to RIP Medical Debt, a non-profit organization that purchases medical debt that has gone into collection. This type of debt is sold for pennies on the dollar: a $1 purchase will typically relieve $100 dollars of debt. Instead of collecting on that debt, RIP Medical... Read More

Covenant Donation To Refugee Services Honors Shirin Keshavarz

This week, Covenant Presbyterian Church made a $1,000 donation to Refugee Services of Texas in honor of Shirin Keshavarz, a businesswoman and Iranian refugee who was catering Persian food to about 200 people with numerous requests for more. Armed with a solid business plan and an amazing personal story, Shirin presented her vision for how she could meet the growing demand to Covenant’s Love Letter Fund committee last spring. She was selected to be the first Love Letter Fund... Read More

Explore Membership, Virtually

Covenant will offer its second virtual Explore Membership class in April. Covenant Visitor and New Member Coordinator Amy Skaggs leads the class. She and a few people who participated in our inaugural 2020 virtual class reflected on taking the class remotely. The 20 new members welcomed into the church family in late 2020 were the first, and to date the only, ones who have joined virtually. Like all things 2020, Covenant’s class to educate and connect potential new members had to... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Monday, March 15, 2021

Making a Difference at Manos

The advent of COVID-19 last year caused a sharp spike in activity at Manos de Cristo’s food pantry. From January through March 2020, Manos served 300 people a month. The numbers of individuals seeking food grew steadily, and over the past three months, the number exceeded 1,200 per month! Diane Riehs is Manos’ Director of Development. She explained: “2020 started out as a normal year, but the pandemic caused everything to shift. After spring break, children were asked to... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Covenant Community at Community First!

A group of five men park their cars and walk to the site where they are constructing a house. Their temperatures are taken, their masks are donned. It’s before 7 a.m., and it’s already hot. Texas in August is not for the faint of heart. These men are part of Covenant’s Men in the Word, our early morning men’s Bible study. This group of five to seven worked together over the summer, growing in their carpentry skills and relationships. They were diligently building two... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The New Face of Congregational Care and Mission

When Emily Vanderslice saw the job posting for Covenant’s Assistant for Congregational Care and Mission, she was excited. “I knew that Covenant was a vibrant, active community. I decided to take a chance and apply.” A few weeks later, she was hired and started in late October. Emily is assisting Covenant Associate Pastor Jill Williams on all things congregational care and missions. Emily comes to Covenant equipped with lots of church experience, having worked for... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Behind the Scenes of Covenant Online Worship

It’s 7 ‘clock Friday morning, and just like the week before and the week before and the week before, Jonathan Kofahl arrives at Covenant and unpacks cameras, lights, sound equipment and more. Jonathan is the videographer behind our online worship services. Hired that first day in mid-March to shoot a short service on the off-chance that we couldn't meet in person, Jonathan has become an indispensable part of the Covenant Worship team. "We filmed that first service... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Monday, November 9, 2020

Kay Austin: Serving with Extravagant Generosity

Ten years ago, Covenant's Assistant for Congregational Care and Mission Kay Austin reached her typical tenure at a job. She'd been at Covenant for three years and, in all of her previous jobs as a legal assistant, that was about the amount of time she would spend before departing for what seemed like a better opportunity. But Covenant was different. "At this job, I found a new definition of what a servant heart really is," Kay said. "I loved that in my job, I got to... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Helping Our Neighbors: An Unexpected Call

“There are people who make it happen, people who watch it happen and the last group, who say, ‘What happened?’ Four years ago, I decided to make it happen.” Jo Ibsen-Wolford is the founder of Helping Our Neighbors (HON), a small ministry focused on caring for homeless neighbors in Northwest Austin. Jo’s intention was not to help the homeless. “I never thought in a zillion years that I would be involved in this journey. This cause was ever in my path.... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Lasting Relationships

Rob Bishop is a familiar figure at Covenant. He’s been spotted riding his bike to worship services on Sunday morning, hanging with students on the fourth floor, refereeing Upward Basketball and even coaching wrestling. The activity that brought him closest to God, said Rob, was being a D-Group leader. During that commitment, Rob established an ongoing relationship with several young men, now all 19. “My six years as a D-Group leader was transformative,” Rob said. “It... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Wednesday, August 12, 2020

ESL History at Covenant

For several years, Covenant has partnered with Manos de Cristo to offer classroom space and teachers for ESL classes. Though not currently meeting, the team hopes to start classes again in 2021. The following article, written in 2017, provides a snapshot of the history of ESL classes at Covenant. This is one way we are educating our members and friends about the many things that Manos de Cristo, our August partner spotlight, does to serve those in need.  On a recent Tuesday... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Monday, August 3, 2020

AVEY Grateful for Donations; Needs Food Distribution Volunteers

During the month of July, Covenant has been highlighting our mission partner, Austin Voices for Education and Youth (AVEY). Our goal has been to educate our members and friends about the organization, and to provide options for ways to serve. One way we helped during the month is by collecting laundry supplies. Covenant AVEY liaison Lynn Bell said AVEY is very thankful for Covenant’s generous donations.   “Plastic laundry baskets loaded with detergent, fabric... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Friday, July 31, 2020

Update: Covenant's Donation to Relieve Medical Debt

In March, Covenant announced that we had made a $100,000 donation that would be used to relieve $10 million worth of secondary medical debt for the poorest households in Travis County and surrounding Austin suburbs. To date, that donation has been used to relieve nearly $8 million of medical debt. As reported, Covenant did this through RIP Medical Debt, a non-profit organization that purchases medical debt that has gone into collection. This type of debt is sold for pennies on the dollar: a... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Austin Voices Stays Busy During Pandemic

The daily interaction that the Austin Voices in Education and Youth (AVEY) staff had with the St. John’s Neighborhood came to an abrupt stop in mid-March. Like all of Austin (and the world!), AVEY had to close most of its operations, including all of its Family Resource Centers. Since AVEY was already working with many of the most vulnerable families at the neighborhood schools, the organization had referral systems in place for teachers and other staff to use for family needs. As... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Monday, July 13, 2020

David Peña Answers God's Call

In December 2017, Covenant featured Texas Reach Out Ministry, and David and Margie Peña in the Cornerstone. As we mourn the loss of our friend and mission partner, David, and pray for Margie's health, we reflect on David's journey and the Peña's incredible ministry. The following is the 2017 article:  "The Lord found me sitting in prison in 1987. I was a hardcore drug addict and alcoholic.” The story of Texas Reach Out Ministries begins... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Monday, July 6, 2020

#BucketsofJustice

A “bucket hat” is defined on the Internet as “a simple soft cloth hat with a brim.” They are trendy right now, and one young Covenant member is making and selling them. She has earned more than $1,000, which she has given to organizations that work for racial policy reform. Future University of Texas freshman Riley Church saw the hats on TikTok videos showing people making them out of old shirts. She started slowly, testing several designs: “I didn't know... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Thursday, June 25, 2020

Celebrating Grads in New Ways

Covenant deacons and our Children and Family Ministry celebrated our Covenant graduates with spirited send-offs. Like almost everything else this spring, they were different than anyone had imagined, but Covenant did its best to make our graduates feel loved and lauded. On two consecutive Wednesdays in late May, Covenant sponsored parking lot parades with cheering fans lining the short route. First, the deacons honored our high school seniors, inviting them with this note: “During... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Thursday, June 4, 2020

Covenant Delivers Baskets to Refugee Families

It’s tough times right now for people across the world, but how much harder might it be if you had recently moved to the U.S. from another country? Covenant’s refugee ministry lead Emily Dove was thinking about the challenges facing us all and, in particular, the challenges facing new immigrants, and she decided to create gift baskets to help a few refugee families with ties to Covenant. Each basket was a little different, but each was delivered with love and concern and care.... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Two Covenant Employees Make Moves

Two Covenant employees, Billy Streu and Rachael McConnell, will have their last day at Covenant on May 31. Billy is leaving to pursue his master's in social work. Rachael will move with her family to North Carolina, where she will work in children's ministry at a new church.  Billy Looks Forward As Covenant high school seniors graduate and venture on, High School Director Billy Streu joins the kids in pursuing new opportunities. He has been working toward a master’s... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Marjon's Amazing Journey

As the semester winds down (in a most unusual way), so do spring and, in the case of Marjon Ahmadian, an internship three years long. Marjon has been a Student Ministry intern for Covenant since her sophomore year at the University of Texas. She’s been around Covenant a whole lot longer, experiencing the church first in preschool and later in the children’s choir. “If anywhere in the world is a home to me, it would be Covenant,” Marjon said. “I’ve been... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Covenant Meets Mission Needs

“Some cool mission stuff is happening,” Mission Director Whitney Bell said, referring to the last several weeks of donations coming into Covenant and other plans that are underway. For starters, Whitney said, Covenant has been asking for donations to some specific mission partners. To determine what our partners need, Whitney reached out to them. “The important thing about mission is that we don’t determine what the need is, we ask,” she explained. Each... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Covenant Material Helps Frontline Medical Workers

Tucked away in Eaton Hall are dozens of sewing machines and a plethora of material, collected by Covenant volunteers and staff. The intent was to take it to Belize and share it with our partner there. The logistics of getting it there, however, proved difficult, especially when our spring break mission trip was canceled, and our collection sat untapped. Covenant member Barbara Burnett spearheaded the Belize sewing collection effort. When she started hearing of the need for facemasks to help... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Monday, April 27, 2020

Finding Purpose: Facemask Making

The Covid-19 Shelter-in-Place order means that we are home … all the time. Some of us are working more than ever, some of us are barely working and some of us have lost our jobs. Some of us are taking classes or helping our kids take classes. Some of us are parenting a lot more than we are used to. Some of us are lonely. Many of us are looking for ways to help. Two people with ties to Covenant are doing that by making facemasks. Covenant member Maria Raper and Covenant... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Thursday, April 16, 2020

Covenant Helps Relieve $10 Million worth of Travis County Medical Debt

Church Gift, Multiplied 100X by Innovative Non-Profit, to Help the County’s Poorest In worship services today, Covenant Senior Pastor Thomas Daniel shared that a $100,000 Covenant donation will relieve $10 million worth of secondary medical debt for the poorest households in Travis County. Covenant was able to do this through RIP Medical Debt, a non-profit organization that purchases medical debt that has gone into collection. This type of debt is sold for pennies on the dollar: a... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Timeless Nature of our God

Thomas Daniel is celebrating six years at Covenant this week! Here, he writes about the relationships he's formed and the things he's learned. He also writes about what has changed, and what has not changed: Dear Covenant Family, Six years ago today was my first day to serve as a pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church. I remember walking into the office that morning with a mixture of nerves and excitement. For months, the Pastoral Nominating Committee and my family had... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Finding Grace in the Unknown

Thomas Daniel writes about this uncertain time we are in ... and how he's been grieving the things we have lost while still discovering new evidence of God's grace. Read it below.    Dear Covenant Family,   We are in a time of grieving and discovering.     I find myself regularly doing both as I move throughout my day.     Grieving at what is lost and may not be recovered. Grieving for the spiraling statistics of illness and... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Small Groups Serve Small People Together

Covenant has been growing. Not only are our worship services (and parking lot) full, but so are our children’s programs. In fact, it takes 43 volunteers to run our kids’ Sunday school each week. That’s a lot of people. And it’s not always easy to find these people!  Recently, Covenant’s discipleship team partnered with our Children and Family Ministry (CFM) leaders to figure out how to best serve this growing need. Together, the teams came up with a plan,... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Friday, February 28, 2020

Serving Our City

Covenant is growing, and with growth come decisions! The church is working to meet demands in two very different ways. The Growth Task Force reported to the congregation last week on its progress in figuring ways to better use the space on campus. Learn more here . The focus of this post is the church’s second goal – how to be a love letter to Austin. That is, to find new and better ways to serve those struggling right here in our city. Last fall, members of Covenant’s... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Friday, January 24, 2020

Growth Task Force Update

The Covenant Growth Task Force, created in September to research ways to increase capacity on campus, gave an update at two separate, but identical, meetings in mid-January. Daniel Campbell, who chairs the committee, said the team has been looking at how the buildings and other areas on our campus are being used. The goal of the team’s work, according to Daniel, is discovery. “We are here to start a conversation,” Daniel told a full house at both the meetings. Daniel was... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Friday, January 17, 2020

Familiar Face is Covenant's Next Middle School Director

Jake Pluenneke will take over as Covenant’s Director of Middle School Ministry this coming June after he graduates from the University of Texas at Austin. Jake is not a new face. He’s been working as a student ministry intern since August 2017.  “I am so excited to be the next middle school director,” Jake said. “Ever since I was a little kid and watched my dad work with the youth at our home church, being a youth director has been my dream job.” ... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Thursday, January 16, 2020

Rescued Sermon Series

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; line-height: 15.0px; font: 11.0px Whitney} span.s1 {font-kerning: none} Covenant is starting a new sermon series this Sunday, Jan. 5. Through "Rescued," we'll travel through the book of Exodus with Moses and the people of Isreal as they learn to trust in a God who makes beautiful things out of the dust of our lives. The series continues through Feb. 23. The following video provides an overview of the series.    Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Thursday, January 2, 2020

New Year Examen

The new year (and the new decade!) provides an opportunity for us to reflect and plan. The Examen is a great tool to help us do that faithfully. The Examen is a form of prayer that helps us pay attention to God’s presence in our lives and assess whether we are being truthful about ourselves and our relationship with God. The Examen asks us to consider the events and experiences of a specific period of time and reflect on them in the company of God’s Spirit. This is an Examen... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Thursday, January 2, 2020

Jill's Sabbatical: Feeling God’s Favor

Florida, Alabama, California, Hawaii, Ireland, Scotland and England.   Jill Williams traveled many places during her three-month sabbatical. Upon her return in early October, she was full of gratitude. “I feel incredibly satisfied,” she said. “I wondered if I was potentially doing too much. But I felt God’s favor throughout my sabbatical. It wasn’t too much; it was perfect.” The pleasant flow of Jill’s time away was almost a surprise.... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Monday, December 23, 2019

Jesse Reyes Celebrates 25 Years!

The year was 1994: Bill Clinton was president. Amazon.com was founded. And Jesse Reyes started at Covenant. December 4 marked 25 years since Jesse was hired as a custodian at Covenant. He is the Covenant employee with the longest tenure. “I knew I ha d the job,” Jesse recalled, “but I had to do the interview.” Jesse... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Friday, December 6, 2019

2019 Day of Service is a Success!

More than 200 people came out to lend a hand at Covenant’s 2019 Day of Service. All the volunteers served with one of our four mission partners, Community First!, Street Youth Ministry (SYM), Austin Voices for Education and Youth (AVEY) and Texas Reach Out Ministry. “We made a lot of changes to our Day of Service,” said Mission Director Whitney Bell. “Our goal was to introduce our members to our city partners and take our congregation deeper with these four partners.... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Volunteering with Texas Reach Out is Life Changing

More than 3,000 men and women are released from prison into Travis County every year. Statistics predict that 70 percent of them will return to prison within three years. Texas Reach Out Ministries (TROM), an organization that provides housing and Christ-centered guidance to former inmates, aims to do better. More than 2,000 men and women have graduated from Texas Reach Out since it opened its doors in 2000. Through volunteering with TROM’s female clients, Covenant... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Year End Giving Tips

As the end of 2019 approaches, Covenant's financial office has tips on “end of year giving." Covenant accepts gifts of stocks and marketable securities. Members and friends can avoid capital gains taxes by giving appreciated stocks to Covenant. Also, those who want to donate who are 70.5 and older may direct funds from their retirement account to Covenant. This is considered a tax-free, qualified charitable distribution. (You must meet the maximum annual exclusion limit for... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Friday, November 1, 2019

Covenant Cottage is Home Sweet Home

Community First! Village is a 51-acre master planned community that provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for men and women coming out of chronic homelessness. A development of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, this residential program serves those who have been living on the streets. The program also encourages the surrounding community into a lifestyle of service with the homeless. Land was purchased and construction began in 2012. Many from Austin immediately... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Thursday, October 31, 2019

Covenant Looks to the Future

Covenant leaders are discussing two major goals for our church: One is how to increase our capacity on Sunday mornings; the second is how to be a love letter to Austin. To tackle the former, Session created a growth task force. “We’ve seen a lot of growth in the 9:30 and 11:05 services,” Senior Pastor Thomas Daniel said. “Children and youth have outgrown their spaces – moving to new floors of the Fellowship and Education Building and into Eaton Hall.... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Thursday, October 3, 2019

A Scripture a Day: Gifts of Grace

Thomas Daniel suggested in his sermon on Sunday that we read scripture daily this week, as we ponder the fruits of the spirit and try to live out our eulogy virtues. Following are suggestions for how to read scripture, followed by the daily verses. Schedule 15 minutes each day this week to spend time in God’s Word.  Find a quiet space to be present with God. Turn off technology, and before you read, say a prayer for God to open your mind and heart to the power of His... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Sunday, September 22, 2019

"Gifts of Grace" Sermon Series Starts September 22

Covenant will embark on a new sermon series titled "Gifts of Grace" on Sept. 22. For nine weeks, we'll journey through Galatians 5 as the Bible goes into a great deal of detail of what is truly valuable and worth something in this world, the fruits of the spirit. Each week, the Covenant pastors will consider how we cultivate these gifts. According to Thomas Daniel, it's not as simple as 'learn it and do it.' These are gifts that have to be received before they can... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Friday, September 20, 2019

Cheryl Banks Awarded Lifetime PW Honor

Covenant member Cheryl Banks was awarded the Honorary Life Membership in Presbyterian Women at the PW annual kick-off luncheon on Aug. 28. This honor goes to a woman whose life exemplifies faithful service and/or leadership in the work of the church.  Since joining Covenant in 2001, Cheryl – a pediatrician – has been a church leader in many areas, most significantly in Manos, mission and music. She has been teaching Manos ESL (English as a Second Language) classes for... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Thursday, August 29, 2019

Explore Membership at Covenant

Dictionary.com defines speed dating as an organized social activity in which people seeking romantic relationships have a series of short conversations with potential partners in order to determine whether there is mutual interest. At Covenant’s Explore Membership classes, Visitor and New Member Coordinator Amy Skaggs takes this dating concept in a different direction. As part of the four new member classes she holds each year, attendees engage in speed dating – Covenant style.... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Covenant Volunteers Help Rebuild Houston

Summary of Covenant Disaster Relief Team Trip -- June 2019 Covenant is helping to rebuild Houston. Seven members, the largest crew from Covenant since the 2017 Hurricane Harvey, traveled to east Houston the last weekend in June. Volunteering for Rebuilding Together Houston (RTH), the team was assigned a home in the Fifth Ward where Tony Trahan and his sister Agnes Harper live with a daughter as their caregiver. ( V olunteers and licensed contractors for RTH repair the homes of... Read More
Posted by Stephanie Schultz at Friday, July 26, 2019
Sunday Worship Times

Worship In Person
Traditional services at 8:15 and 9:30 a.m.
Contemporary Service at 11:00 a.m.

Worship Online
Sundays at 9:30 a.m. at covenant.org/worshiponline 

Office Hours
Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. -  6 p.m.
Friday,  9 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

 

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