An Evolving History
New Covenant Community Church first began as an idea imparted by God to Pastor Milton A. Hathaway while teaching Sunday school as senior pastor of Second Liberty Baptist Church, Quinton, Virginia. It was the 3rd Sunday in June, 2003, as he was concluding a four-part series on Covenant Life, teaching on God's new covenant promise in Jeremiah 31:31-34; that God revealed to Pastor Hathaway that he was being released to pastor New Covenant Community Church.
This new church would be established upon scriptural foundations already familiar to Pastor Hathaway, and yet would stretch him beyond the traditions of the familiar into an arena first established in the early first century church. New Covenant would embrace community from the foundation of Acts 2:41-47 and Acts 1:8. Our model would have an apostolic foundation that would not only birth churches, but would provide spiritual covering for new and existing churches and ministries.
What followed was an in-depth study of the first century church as it related to the two guiding scriptures. New Covenant would incorporate many of the biblical principles of the early Baptist church and yet would not be mired in those modified traditions of men. Believing that if he gave himself to birthing the church as outlined in Scripture, insisting on the right offices and the right people with the right character, Jesus would build a new, deep, faithful, and lasting kind of church that would reach people, change lives and make a difference in community, the kind of common unity found in the first century Church and that existed for much of the early history of the Baptist Church.
In early July, 2003 Pastor and Leading Lady Dr Sylvia Lewis Hathaway decided to get away for a quick weekend to seek God's direction for those first critical steps and to prepare themselves for the transformation that was ahead. They spent a weekend in Norfolk, Virginia and were led by God to worship that Sunday morning at Living Waters Christian Fellowship, a new church plant pastored by long-time friends Bishop Steven and Dr. Kiera Banks in Newport News, Virginia. That proved to be a pivotal moment in the birthing of New Covenant. The church was packed to standing room only when Pastor Hathaway arrive and the decided to just stand along the rear of the church. When Bishop Banks entered the room, the room erupted with applause and excitement not seen in most churches. Bishop Banks looked through the crowd and called Pastor Hathaway and Leading Lady Sylvia to the front to introduce them to the church as long-time friends who walked in integrity. As Pastor and Bishop embraced, Bishop invited Pastor to come spend some time with him so that he could reveal what God had revealed to him concerning our new church plant that at the time had only been a conversation between Pastor, Leading Lady and God.
Pastor Hathaway scheduled an appointment with Bishop Banks that following Tuesday and for forty-five minutes Bishop Banks began to reveal things about our new church plant that could only have come from God. At the end of the conversation, Bishop Banks pledged his support of New Covenant and encouraged our launch team to meet with our counterparts on his team and assured us that any resources we needed would be made available to us at no cost.
At first, Pastor Hathaway sought to locate the ministry in the eastern area of Henrico County, but God began to refocus his attention on reaching the unchurched in New Kent County. In August, 2003, Pastor Hathaway was led to attend a worship service at Living Waters Christian Fellowship, under the pastorate of a long time friend and pastor whom Pastor Hathaway had complete confidence in, then Bishop-elect Stephen Banks. That service proved to be a critical link in God's unfolding vision for New Covenant Community Church. The next few months would take Pastor and First Lady Sylvia around the country in pursuit of training and equipping opportunities in preparation for birthing New Covenant Community Church. Along the way there were many providential encounters with God's people who spoke into the vision and gave energy, excitement and prayerful covering for Pastor Hathaway and this new ministry.
Next, they attended Dove Christian Fellowship International, an apostolic training center based in Lititz, Pennsylvania under the direction of Apostle Larry Kreider where they gained valuable visible insight into the birthing process, structure and mindset of an apostolic ministry. It was there that all of their training and experiences came together and the idea of a Center for Leadership development was birthed that would equip apostolic leaders for positions with the church and community.
Pastor Hathaway began sharing God's leading with several close confidants who encouraged him to follow God's leading and agreed to cover the vision with prayer. On December 14, 2003, Pastor Hathaway formally submitted his resignation as senior pastor of Second Liberty Baptist Church, effective January 31, 2004, thus clearing the final hurdle for the launch. For several months New Covenant Community Church had existed on paper, legally incorporated as a church, and with six weeks to launch, advertisements were ready, a music team and musicians were prepared and our first service had been planned and scheduled for Sunday, February 1, 2004, as we all braced for the inevitable questions, why? We were all convinced that this was a move of God and that Second Liberty would be our birth mother. We determined that we would always honor and assist Second Liberty as they sought their next pastor.
On Sunday, February 1, 2004, we held our first service in the New Kent High School Auditorium (now the New Kent Middle School), as over fifty worshippers attended the service. We were blessed to have Bishop Steven and Dr. Kiera Banks in attendance. It was clear that we were off to a great start. Within weeks, we moved into our renovated Executive Office complex on New Kent Highway that gave us great visibility in the community as well as an office, conference room and place to host mid-week bible study. From that complex we would go on to launch a Community Resource Center with a library of over 1500 books, bibles and resources available at no charge to our community and the Center for Leadership Development.
We hosted summer basketball camps, a monthly My Brother's Keeper ministry to feed and clothe the homeless in metropolitan Richmond, a Shepherd's Staff Ministry that provided spiritual guidance and critical resources to troubled families, and birthed Covenant Connections Community Development Corporation as a Nonprofit Tax-Exempt corporation. Our youth were busy launching Anointed Covenant Expressions Praise Dance Ministry, and hosting Rated HGP- Holy Ghost Praise Parties. We were taking ministry to another level as God began to add members to the church and enlarge our territory.
We embarked on a year-long training program through our Center for Leadership development to equip our pastors, ministers, elders, deacons and lay ministers for service. Our leadership team was formally consecrated and affirmed on Sunday, June 10, 2006, with Bishop Steven W. Banks and Living Waters Christian Fellowship as our special guest. In 2007, we began hosting an annual Taking the Limit's Off Convocation that has brought prophetic voices to our region.
We've partnered with local and regional ministries to meet the needs of a growing population that is underserved through normal programs. We are a member of the New Kent Chamber of Commerce, United Ministries Joint Conference, New Kent Clergy Association and Pastors For Pastors Network. On April 12, 2014, we launched our second church, Without Walls Ministries, dedicated to ministering transformation and restoration to the homeless and hurting in metropolitan Richmond. We have baptized over two dozen into the kingdom and led well over 150 to accept Jesus into their lives. Without Walls Ministries is a cooperative ministry with My Brother's Keeper Ministry that provides spiritual guidance, food, clothing, transportation assistance and personal hygiene items to the homeless. We've been blessed to share this ministry with other churches as a local missions and outreach project. In just a few months we'll launch our third church, Covenant Life Church Online that will enlarge our area of impact and influence. We've recently filled a new staff position, an iConnect Pastor who will oversee much of the community outreach ministries of this church. Our iConnect pastor will train iConnect team Leaders who will be assigned to work with iConnect Groups in growing and connecting their groups to our cooperative ministries.
We are grateful to God for entrusting his vision and mission to us and for his continual leading. We pause to express our deep appreciation for our mother church, Second Liberty Baptist Church, who continues to embrace us, and our gratitude to all of the other churches throughout the region that have partnered with us. The list of members, friends and partners is far too great to mention here, so, we offer our heartfelt gratitude to every member that has pursued this journey with us.
As we enter 2015, The Year of Transformation for Restoration, the future is bright and we're poised to accomplish exciting things as a multicultural and multi-generational pattern ministry. We solicit the effectual fervent prayers of the righteous as we step into our 12th year of ministry.