Church continues good works after it closes

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Covenant Presbyterian Church has left behind a legacy for four local organizations.

The church, which stopped holding services in December of 2015, gave $23,000 each to Hope Station, Wesley Shelter, Flynn Christian Fellowship Home and the Salvation Army.

Tom Watkins, senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Wilson, said the gifts are an example of what the church is about: reaching out to the community, giving time and talents and being a visible witness in the community.

Covenant Presbyterian, located on Tilghman Road, was a small church, said Watkins, who was asked by the denomination to help with the process of settling the church’s affairs when it closed. The church had gotten too small to continue operating with a congregation of around a dozen members who attended regularly.

“Unable to support their ministry, they accepted their end with grace and gracefully moved on to other congregations,” Watkins said. “It was a sad day for sure. Nonetheless, true to their faith, the former members trusted something new would rise again. A year and a half later, that new thing began to happen.”

After the church building was sold to the Islamic community of Wilson, money was distributed in a manner set by the denomination, with half going to church development. A large percentage went to local organizations.

Watkins said members of the denomination chose the local recipients.

Lynn White, executive director of the Wesley Shelter, said she was shocked and thrilled to receive the gift.

“We’re overjoyed,” she said.

The Wesley Shelter is completing the expansion of its safe house, she said, and will use the money for any unforeseen expenses that might come up. If the money isn’t needed at the safe house, it will be used to pay down the mortgage on the administration building.

White is happy for not only the Wesley Shelter, but also the other three recipients.

“It shows how much our community believes in the missions we have,” she said.

Earl Reaves, executive director of the Flynn Christian Fellowship Home, said it brought tears to his eyes when he saw the check.

“I’m very grateful that people are willing to support the Flynn Home,” he said.

Reaves said the donation will be used for a transportation fund. The goal is to eventually be able to purchase a van so the men will be able to attend community functions, meetings and churches as a group.

Watkins said it is fitting that this congregation donated so much money to mission work.

“They’ve always been about giving to local or international missions,” he said, even at the end by donating their final funds to serve a greater good.

“Less than a month after they opened in 1963, the women of the church were sending funds for a mission in Taiwan,” Watkins said. “In their birth, in their life and now in their death, they been about reaching out to lost and lonely in the name of Christ.”

Watkins said not to cry for the congregation.

“Ask God’s blessings on the new Islamic community of Wilson and give thanks for the mysterious ways of God’s grace. ‘“Blessed are those who die in the Lord,’ it is written in the Book of Revelation, ‘They rest from their labors, but their works follow them.’”