Isaiah’s Room, The Covenant Justice Conference, Main Street Restoration – these are three of New York Covenant Church’s (NYCC) nearly 20 ministries. However, when Pastor David Holder founded NYCC 18 years ago, preaching the Gospel was the sole focus, and there were just four members.
On that July 19, 1998 Sunday, Pastor Holder and his college friend Christopher Salley, and their respective wives, Tarshia and Kimberly, held the first NYCC service in the sanctuary of the Covenant Church of New Rochelle (CCNR), a small red brick building at the corner of Mayflower and Pershing Avenues. Pastor Holder also served as the Pastor of CCNR, a congregation that has existed for more than 100 years.
Pastor Salley was on the keyboard, and Sisters Tarshia and Kim were in the wooden pews. Pastor Holder delivered the Word. Times have changed. NYCC now has close to 300 members working in its ministries, seven associate ministers and nine deacons. “We didn't set out to build a big church,” Pastor Holder said. “We set out to build a great church. And I can truly say God has been faithful. I love His church.”
We asked some NYCC members about their personal NYCC history. Here’s what they said:
Member since 2011
Men’s Ministry member
Like many new members, Anselm James learned about the church through a mailer, but it took awhile before he decided to visit.
“The first time I saw the mailer I saw the pastor and his wife,” said Anselm. “The second time, it was the pastor, his wife and a baby. The third time was the pastor, his wife, a little girl and a young baby.”
It took a few years, but Anselm, a Mount Vernon resident, eventually visited and was immediately drawn to the congregation because of the strength of the Men’s Ministry and the camaraderie among the men.
“You don’t find too many men in church,” said Anselm. “To see a group of men who believe in Christ coming together to discuss Christ, that got to me.”
Member since 2000
Perpetual Praise Ministry member
Tamara Berthaud’s was planning to visit NYCC, but was deterred by a heavy rainstorm. But after she read a story about the church in The Journal News, she was convinced to visit.
The attraction was immediate, Tamara said. “I was comfortable after the first time. I wanted to get closer to God, and I felt that it was a good place to do it.”
Member since 2009
Isaiah’s Room Ministry member
Anthony Robinson and his wife were living in the neighborhood when they saw church letting out one Sunday. They decided to visit the following week.
Anthony said he found Pastor Holder to be warm, inviting, personable and relatable.
“In one of his first sermons I heard, he used a hip-hop term,” Anthony said. “He was part of my generation.”
“This is it,” Anthony said. “I found my home.”
Like Anselm, Anthony also was enthusiastic about the Men’s Ministry.
“I liked the fact that we are real brothers and real men, and that there is no pretense,” he said. “We can come to each other and trust each other. I love that.”
Member since 2007
Praise and Worship Team; CARE Ministry
Alana Millings and her husband, Minister Gregory Millings, are true millennials. Upon receiving the NYCC mailer, they went to the website to investigate. Not finding enough information on the first-generation site, they did not immediately visit.
A subsequent mailing, and a visit to a revised website changed their minds. Alana recalls a top-10 list of reasons to attend NYCC, with the last one being “the preaching is all that and a bag of chips.”
“Somebody has to be really cool there,” she recalls saying to Minister Greg.
The couple’s first visit was Palm Sunday 2007. “We were decked out for our first time there,” Alana said. “We were dressed to the elevens.”
However, the morning greeter informed them that dressing up was an option, not a requirement. More importantly, the Word they heard that day really was all that.
“During that first sermon, Greg and I looked at each other and said ‘This is it.’ He’s (Pastor Holder) the real deal.”