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 prayerfully wondered if God was calling us to move to Austin and to Covenant. After mutually discerning this was the case, I had done the hard work of saying goodbye to family and friends in Atlanta, packing a few of my belongings, and spending two days driving west to Austin. Beth, Miriam and Hannah remained in Atlanta as the girls finished 1st and 3rd grades. Beth was preparing to graduate with her doctorate and our house was being sold. There were so many things swirling, both within and around me, as I walked into Covenant Hall to meet with the staff for the first time.

Six years later, so much has changed. I have formed new relationships with people who have helped me to grow and better understand what it means to follow Jesus. Beth is celebrating five years working on Covenant’s staff as Parish Associate for Older Adults. My daughters are now young women fully immersed in high school and middle school. When I look at the church, so much has changed as well. We have welcomed new members, said goodbye to beloved friends and family, and celebrated becoming debt-free. And now, we are quickly figuring out what it means to be a community that worships and practices “life together” in an age of COVID-19 and social distancing.

And yet what I am most aware of today are the things that are timeless: The call of a God who tells us to move beyond fear and to swing our legs over the side of the boat in order to stand up and walk on the water. The countless opportunities to bear witness to the most amazing grace that transforms lives, families and entire communities. And, as much as anything else, I remain excited as I look to the future for what lies ahead for us all as we continue our journey together.

I close with the words of the Apostle Paul to the church in Philippi:

“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.

With gratitude for all that God has done, is doing and has in store!