In 1955 a portion of the congregation at downtown First Presbyterian Church felt a need to plant a Presbyterian presence on the northwest side of Albany. On September 18th, 339 parishioners began worshiping in a defunct supper club on Slappey Boulevard while construction of the first set of buildings took place on Dawson Road where white rows of cotton once stood beside a peach orchard (now Lake Loretta). When the Charter Membership Roll was closed on November 6, 1955, there were 401 members.
The Reverend Marion Bradwell, our first pastor, wrote in the February 21, 1957 issue of The Covenanter, “This next Sunday we will have our final services in our temporary sanctuary at 153 N. Slappey Boulevard. On Sunday night, September 18, 1955, we were a church without a meeting place, without equipment, without literature… The wicker bread baskets [left in place by the defunct supper club] were our offering plates. As we move into our new buildings next week, LET US NEVER FORGET WHAT GOD HAS DONE FOR US!”
Phase One of our facilities was consecrated on Sunday, March 3, 1957. There was a Fellowship Hall, an eleven room Educational Facility, kitchen, temporary room for the Lackland Memorial Library, and a suite of offices.
In 1961 a new building committee was formed to begin Phase Two. The resulting Sanctuary is a unique structure, featuring bare stone walls of Tennessee quartzite, soaring A-frame beams of laminated wood, and an exposed ceiling of natural cedar. The four sides of the sanctuary support heavy lancet windows in dalle glass, depicting the life and ministry of Jesus. James Barnett was music leader for Covenant in that era. He acquired our remarkable Skinner organ which had been built for the Grace Episcopal Church of New York City in 1928. Fronted by speaking pipes in natural zinc and polished tin, this 4 manual organ is one of the finest in the region. The first service in the sanctuary was held on Sunday, October 3, 1971, and the congregation of Covenant did not forget “what God has done for us.”
In 1989, Tennessee Orchard Stone was installed in the chancel area of the Sanctuary, and the Presbyterian Women converted our former senior high classroom into the Church Parlor.
In late 1997, discussions began about the need for an Activity Center for families. In June 1999, a team was organized to begin the process of dreaming how an activity center would serve the mission of Covenant, and in June 2000, the congregation gave approval to begin a pledge campaign to determine the financial feasibility of underwriting a new activity center. Construction bids were sought in 2001 and in May 2002, the congregation voted to begin the construction of the new activity center to contain a gym, snack bar, showers, and additional classrooms. In September 2003, construction began on the new activity center. On April 18, 2004 the activity center was completed and dedicated to the glory of God.
In 2003 the Building and Grounds Committee made it their goal to renovate the Fellowship Hall, and in 2005 that goal was completed. The renovated Fellowship Hall included the following: a stage (where the old Choir room had been), new chairs, a new sound system, new carpeting, vinyl tile, trim, paint and window treatments.
In 2007 a Prayer Garden (with fountain) was constructed in the Breezeway and Café 2126 opened on Sunday mornings in the Gym. In October 2008 renovation of Covenant’s new state-of-the-art kitchen was completed and a dedication service was held. In 2009 a new metal roof (matching the Activity Center’s roof) was added to all of the educational buildings and Covenant’s Sanctuary was completely renovated.
In 2010 the grounds received major improvements and a spiral staircase and railing was installed in the Sanctuary balcony. Future plans include new parking lots and much more.
In 2012, our playground was completely renovated as an Eagle Scout project, and Rev. Walter Flint agreed to donate $200,000 for the purpose of developing the Walter Flint Youth Center on the second floor of Covenant’s Activity Center. The Walter Flint Youth Center was completed in the Fall of 2012.
We took on a series of minor renovations in 2013 to update and modernize our beautiful sanctuary. We also preformed maintenance on our organ at that time.
2014 saw the renovation of our church’s beautiful prayer garden.
Two years later, we undertook several projects. One was a renovation of our playground area. The Walter Flint Youth Center was updated to accommodate a contemporary worship service, including a handicapped chair lift to the second floor.
The story of Covenant is, of course, much more than brick and mortar, and is an ongoing narrative about a close-knit and loving congregation, enjoying the spirit of faith and fellowship while following our Savior. Come see what part of this story is waiting for you!
Presbyterian History & Organization
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has approximately 2.4 million members, 11,100 congregations and 14,000 ordained and active ministers. Presbyterians trace their history to the 16th century and the Protestant Reformation. Our heritage, and much of what we believe, began with the French lawyer John Calvin (1509-1564), whose writings crystallized much of the Reformed thinking that came before him. Calvin did much of his writing from Geneva, Switzerland. From there, the Reformed movement spread to other part of Europe and the British Isles. Many of the early Presbyterians in America came from England, Scotland and Ireland.
Presbyterians have featured prominently in United States history. The Rev. Francis Makemie, who arrived in the U.S. from Ireland in 1683, helped to organize the first American Presbytery at Philadelphia in 1706. The first General Assembly was held in the same city in 1789. This Assembly was convened by the Rev. John Witherspoon, the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence. The Rev. William Tennent founded a ministerial “log college” in New Jersey that evolved into Princeton University. Other Presbyterian ministers, such as the Rev. Jonathan Edwards and the Rev. Gilbert Tennent, were driving forces in the so-called “Great Awakening,” a revivalist movement in the early 18th century.
The Presbyterian church in the United States has split and parts have reunited several times. Currently the largest group is the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which has its national offices in Louisville, Ky. It was formed in 1983 as a result of reunion between the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (PCUS), the so-called “southern branch,” and the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA), the so-called “northern branch.” Other Presbyterian churches in the United States include: the Presbyterian Church in America, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and others. (pcusa.org)
The PCUSA uses a representative form of church government based on four ruling councils. Members of these councils are elected by their respective bodies to represent their bodies. The four councils are the Session (the ruling council in a local church), the Presbytery (the ruling council for a collection of churches in a geographical region), the Synod (the ruling council for a collection of presbyteries) and the General Assembly (the ruling council for the entire denomination). Our Presbytery is called Flint River Presbytery and oversees the 49 churches that reside in the southwest corner of our state. To visit our Flint River Presbytery website, click here. (flintriverpresbytery.org)