On November 18, 1973, several families from two area Presbyterian congregations met for worship in the Westside Men’s Club located off 23rd Street at Posten Bayou. It was a small beginning…32 people…but from this nucleus grew our present church. The group called itself “Independent Presbyterian Fellowship.” Its purpose was to form an evangelical Presbyterian church committed to subjecting every area of life to the authority and infallibility of the Scriptures, and the reformed faith, with a zeal for missions.
On January 6, 1974, Donald C. Graham supplied the pulpit (a podium borrowed each week from Wilson Funeral Home). At a meeting following the service, the group voted unanimously to request Gulf Coast Presbytery of the National Presbyterian Church to organize them as a particular church of that Presbytery and denomination. [Later that year, the National Presbyterian Church changed its name to Presbyterian Church in America in deference to a local congregation in Washington, DC known as the National Presbyterian Church. We are most often simply called the PCA.]
Three key events occurred two weeks later on January 20th:
- Mr. Graham was unanimously called to be the organizing pastor;
- The name “Covenant Presbyterian Church” was adopted, and
- The first officers were elected: five Elders and four Deacons.
The following Sunday, January 27, Covenant Church was officially organized by Gulf Coast Presbytery with Dr. William A. McIlwaine of Pensacola presiding. This was particularly appropriate since Dr. McIlwaine, a lifelong missionary to Japan, was one of the founding fathers of the PCA and later served as moderator of the General Assembly.
Just two weeks later on February 10, the infant congregation began to hold its Sunday services in the cafeteria of the Northside Elementary School. When the charter membership roll was closed on March 3, 1974, there were 52 communicant members including its newest, Tommy Carr, who that morning became the church’s first member to join by profession of faith and baptism.
(Later Tommy and his family left Covenant Church to attend Reformed Theological Seminary. Today the Carr’s live in Demopolis, Alabama where Tommy pastors a PCA congregation).
The young church continued to worship in the Northside School Cafeteria for over two years. On May 12, 1974, the congregation purchased its first parcel of land, (1 & 1/4 acres) in the 2300 block of Frankford Avenue. Subsequent purchases have increased that initial parcel to eight acres.
Ground breaking for a sanctuary was July 20, 1975. The first worship service was held in the new facility in early 1976. In 2003, a renovation and expansion of the Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall were completed.
Ray Lanning became the second pastor in July of 1978. He was succeeded in January of 1981, by E. Lee Trinkle, III. Robert S. Hayes, (one of the fifty-two charter members) followed Mr. Trinkle in November of 1984. Our current pastor, Cory D. Colravy has been serving at Covenant since June, 2008.
Covenant Christian School was established in the fall of 1982 to provide an educational opportunity consistent with our reformed world and life view. Additional space for the school was obtained in late 1982 when the old Callaway Elementary School building was acquired and moved across town. It was completely renovated and refurbished by the fall opening of school in 1983 when a Kindergarten and First Grade were added. Grades two through six were added in the fall of 1984. Grades seven and eight were added in the fall of 1987 and grades nine through twelve in 1988. Our present two story educational facility was begun in 1987. The first floor was completed and occupied by the spring of 1988. The second floor was only an empty shell in 1988 that was completed over the next five years. In the fall of 2001 three temporary modular buildings were added and the Callaway building removed to make way for the construction of a gymnasium which was completed in 2003.