Happy 50th Birthday Covenant! 1965 - 2015
Dear Covenant Church,
I knew you before you were born. There were a few dedicated people who wanted badly to organize a church that met their goals and needs. Many thought long and hard about what it should be like here in Houston. There came a time when there were many decisions to make. One of them was the naming time. What should the Church's name be? There was a long discussion. There were many suggestions. I remember a strong suggestion for a Saint's name: St. John's or St. George's. Some suggestions were made for an address: Broadway or First and Main or wherever land was acquired. "Covenant" was chosen because the Church was a covenant between its members and God's holy Spirit. I have followed the life of the Church from afar and I am please to be here for the 50th Birthday. My wife, Phyllis, who died in August of this year, and I are very proud of this Church and what it has become for 50 years. May its next 50 be a clear, ecumenical, liberal, Baptist Church whose new addition and ministry will continue to be a blessing to its members, its community, its city, and the world. Happy Birthday
- John W. Cook
Wow! You don't look fifty!
When Sara Anne, Douglas, Sabrina and I came to Covenant fifty years ago, none of us could have foreseen the multitude and variety of changes that would be in store for us. Even though some of the passages and transitions involved loss and pain, if, judging by where I personally am in life and living, things could not have turned out better. I hope the members of Covenant, the "older ones" such as I have become, and the new ones I have never met have found and are finding as much joy and satisfaction as have I and my family.
Congratulations on your courageous and beautiful journey. The best to all of us as we go forward through this evolving, expanding, creative and entangled cosmos living lives of freedom and love embracing all and everyone just as we ourselves are embraced by Sacred Mystery.
Much love and best wishes,
I was enriched by visits and conversations with Leon and Minnie (?) Meeks. I may have the names wrong; but some of the "old timers" will know who I mean.
Betty and I were a continent away from our grandchildren, so were thrilled to be surrogate grandparents for the Gambill girls.
The awesome experience of the open adoption of Matthew from Martha to David and Michelle is something we will always remember with wonder and thanksgiving. (Betty and I still see Glen and Marj when we are in Portland.)
I have enjoyed helping to provide a "community face" for Covenant while serving on the Board of Houston Metropolitan Ministries, and in the early days of the Clergy Coalition ministering to victims of HIV.
Finally, Covenant and I had two experiences at Rothko Chapel: a) an Ash Wednesday Service; and b) an interfaith service of silent meditation when an Iranian airliner was shot down by US forces.
Grace, Peace, and Love to all who will accept these greetings.
Cordially, Jim Grant, Minister, 1985-1988
Heartiest congratulations on a half-century! I look back with great fondness and gratitude on the twenty-percent of that history during which I was honored to be your minister.
And what a decade it was! Our journey together began with a scant few dozen of us, parking behind tall fences and huddling together in the dark and cavernous sanctuary of the Bellaire Christian Church and took us all the way into an often crowded architecturally inspiring, day lit home of our own where a labyrinth we build together symbolized the circuitous nature of the spiritual pilgrimage.
Along that way we engaged in radical redefinition - naming with an unmistakable lack of equivocation our bold welcome and permanently severing frayed ties to the old Baptist order of things, formally recognizing Covenant's liberal, ecumenical identity.
We created a way to mentor our youth, kept our commitments to CCSC, Interfaith Ministries, the Hospitality Apartments, established a First Sunday Food Offering, began retreating regularly, gathered in somber ashen solemnity in the Rothko Chapel.
I was honored to take our name into Omega House and the Third Ward Community Cloth and the Corporate Responsibility Committee for the Sisters of Charity and other places where our kind of progressive religion could make a difference.
All the while, we offered engaging services naming, ascribing worth with intellectual integrity and poetic beauty each week and we created regular intriguing educational opportunities that stretched and challenged us.
Two names must be hailed on this day: the ageless Fran Avera, whose collegiality and love were sustaining to me and whose abiding presence makes clear that while ministers come and go, music lives on; and, my dearest Richard Huff, without whose immense generosity and visionary leadership Covenant might still be wondering in search for a place to call home.
I am with you in spirit on this day as you pause, look back, and celebrate what has been. And, I hold you in my prayers as you then get back to the work of continuing to be a vibrant, progressive voice in a city, state and world in desperate need of what you have to offer.
- Rev. Jay Leach
"don't blow out the candles"
a poem for Covenant on its 50th anniversary
written May 11, 2015