A Covenant is Formed
Covenant Presbyterian Church (CPC) became a congregation at its organization service on Sunday, September 12, 1954, with the reception of 45 charter members. They held their first worship service the following Sunday, September 19. On October 28, 1957, the congregation unanimously voted to build their church to consist of three units, representing their commitment to worship, study, and service. The Christian Education wing (Study) and Fellowship Hall (Service) were dedicated November 12, 1961, and the Sanctuary wing (Worship) was dedicated on May 19, 1968.
Highlights of the congregation’s ministry over the years:
A strong music ministry was greatly enhanced in 1997 with the gift of the Schoenstein Pipe Organ built specifically for Covenant Presbyterian Church.
Beginning in 1978, the Rev. Bill King led Covenant’s congregation for 20 years, sharing his wisdom, compassion, and poetry. Covenant continues to be blessed by gifted and caring pastors.
In the 1960’s members of Covenant took a leadership role seeking fair housing laws for Madison residents.
In 1965, four members of CPC joined the Freedom March from Salem to Montgomery, Alabama.
In the 1980’s, Covenant explored the need for ministries in other countries. These missions have focused on housing development, education, medical missions, and health improvement services for people in Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, and other countries south of the border.
Covenant took a leadership role in the ordination of the Rev. Scott Anderson, the first openly gay pastor ordained in the Presbyterian Church USA.
In 2000, Covenant was one of the Madison churches to serve as a host church for the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) program serving people who were homeless.
In 2010, the expansion of our building, known as “Covenant Renewal,” continued the three-unit emphasis, “worship, study, and service.” Covenant Renewal updated electronics in the sanctuary, added a meditation room/Columbarium, increased classroom space, and expanded the Narthex creating a large and welcoming gathering space.
The Gospel According to Bill King
In September 2019, Covenant Presbyterian Church celebrated its 65th anniversary. During 20 of those 65 years, from 1978 until his retirement in 1998, the Reverend William Torrie (Bill) King served as Covenant’s senior pastor. For another 19 years until his death in 2017 Bill served as pastor emeritus. As Bill was Covenant’s longest-serving pastor, his preaching was central to Covenant’s life and history. So it is appropriate to include here a selection of Bill’s sermons as part of Covenant’s story.
But these sermons are not only historical artifacts. They are a spiritual resource for the Covenant community and the larger community beyond Covenant Presbyterian Church. The experience of God’s love, grace and forgiveness were central to Bill King’s understanding of the Christian faith. For Bill, the Christian gospel is not rigid dogma, but the love of God expressed in Jesus Christ. In his sermons, with personal anecdotes and humorous self-deprecating stories, Bill articulates this gospel in terms of the psychological realities and the ordinary situations of people’s everyday lives. His sermons evoke what It means to live in an awareness of God’s love and grace.
The sermons are presented here, without editing, as Bill wrote them, not for publication, but for delivery from the pulpit. They include the typos and hand-written edits in the manuscripts prepared by the pastor of a large congregation in the press of his many duties.
The inaugural collection of seven sermons, selected by a volunteer panel of Covenant members, will grow as the group continues to review Bill’s sermons. Click here to read the sermons.