Covenant Church Family
Visit https://www.facebook.com/covenantchurchcville for last Sunday's celebration of ribbon-cutting
We speak of "Covenant Family" with warmth and hospitality. Our unity is Holy Spirit driven.
Families bound together by genetics, culture and marriage are Biblical. The first man Adam and the first woman Eve became parents to all living humans. When sin took man down its awful path, families that ignored God did evil. Entire families, tribes and nations were destroyed because of sin.
Over time, God had to teach men to respect women and women to respect men. One man. One woman. Husband and wife. Honoring God. If blessed with children, the husband and wife were instructed by God to teach children to fear God and keep his commandments.
Godly families tend to produce disciplined, obedient and respectful children.
Our Covenant Family is not known for any particular family name being in control of the administration of the church body. We are an eclectic body. Diverse. Diverse in social strata. Diverse in economics. Diverse in color. Diverse in culture. Diverse in age. Diverse in religious backgrounds, or the lack of.
Sociologists have studied our congregation. More than one scholar has noted that an aerial view of the congregation does not reflect pockets/groupings that suggest segregation/exclusivism. We enter to worship with openness and friendship. Families may even diverge at the entrance to sit with friends of different cultures.
There is more. Family is not a moment in time. Family is time. Traveling together long distances.
As children grow up and leave home for career, college, marriage, military, etc., parishioners have times and seasons. College students from distant places and other countries make Covenant their home during their educational career.
Rebecca Carpenter lived in a muslim country with her parents who are medical missionaries until coming to medical school at UVA. Countless students have matriculated and graduated from local colleges and the University of Virginia.
Post-graduate studies, marriage, career and military have these persons living and loving Jesus all over the world. Yet, they call Covenant home. A homeless woman sleeping in her car came to Covenant Family. She left Charlottesville with a B.A. in nursing and high-paying job.
Pastor Todd Asbury and Melissa came to us when he was a bank loan officer. Today he is president of a bank with significant holdings. He also pastors a growing church in Bristol.
Tom Rosson came to us from Germany. His time with us was wonderful. One day I said to Tom: "You should get your doctorate." He replied: "I never thought I was smart enough." That was one of the few times in my life that I looked at someone and told them what they had said was one of the dumbest things I had ever heard. Tom whizzed a doctorate and today serves in Eastern Europe as one of the leading educational missionaries of the Church of God.
We have stories of hundreds of persons like Rebecca, Todd and Tom---and the homeless woman.
Scholars have asked me how Covenant Church came to be transcultural. I do not foolishly respond: "Don't have the faintest clue. God did it." Such nonsense I consider super-spiritual pride.
Yes, God did it because we were willing to open our hearts to see beyond ourselves. We were willing to open our generosity to think beyond our building and our local dreams. We learned the value of loving people regardless of who they were or their country, culture, or color.
Furniture, food, clothes, visits, prayer. PRESENCE. SERVING.
A refugee family loses a loved one in their native land. The family in U.S. takes off a day of work. They invite friends. They invite one of our pastors to their home. Sitting in a floor with a candle burning sorrow is shared. Scripture, words of encouragement and prayer are shared with Christians, Muslims, Animists, Buddhists and unbelievers. Presence.
Within months of becoming pastor of Covenant Church we purchased a bus to facilitate children from low-income projects to be taught and have the privilege of worship. We continue to be heavily invested in working with refugees of our community.
In our hours of greatest need we always keep foreign and local missions as a priority. Once when we were in a financial crisis with construction and the budget did not have enough money to be called a budget, we allowed the Holy Spirit to use us to raise $16,000 for a mission church in Dominican Republic. We succeeded in reaching our goal in six weeks!
Covenant Family is nations and tribes.
Marriage, careers, military, health, etc., have brought to us people and taken them away. We never write anyone off. We do not burn bridges. We keep the doors open with our hearts and hands welcoming.
When I think of Covenant Family I think of:
Those who have been with us since 1952.
Babies born to parishioners.
Persons added by marriage.
Missionaries we have supported.
Missionaries who have worshipped with us.
Persons and congregations our missions teams have visited.
Contractors, suppliers, service people who have set their feet on the physical property.
Visitors who have passed through or annually plan their vacations to worship at Covenant.
Those who have sent gifts and never been to 1025 Rio Road East.
Pastors we have encouraged.
Ministers we have mentored.
Those who have received or do receive the Pastor's Heart newsletter each week.
A Catholic monastery received the Pastor's Heart and passed the newsletter each week until every nun read it.
Ours is a big family not measured by number of warm bodies in our complex on a weekly basis.
If you are reading this you are Covenant Family. I am asking two favors of you. October 27, 2019, we will have an afternoon celebration/appreciation.
Covenant Family will be traveling from TX, TN, other states and across Virginia to share our time of Thanks to God.
Would you plan on joining with us for this celebration? We want to show our appreciation to God for bringing us this far.
And would you pen a card, write an email, text, or write to me how Covenant has touched your life? We would like to post your notes for the afternoon tour beginning 2 PM. It would be a treasure to hear from you.
Make it ATTN: Pastor Harold L. Bare Covenant Church 1025 E. Rio Rd. Charlottesville, VA 22901 or e-mail it to email@example.com.
I so look forward to hearing from you!
"....on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."