Presbyterian Church of the Covenant

The Courier 

Our Monthly Newsletter


Summer 2023


Three more Sundays of Easter followed by the Day of Pentecost! It has always been clear that we Pres- byterians need to focus on resurrection—which is why the longest “season” of the liturgical year is seven weeks of Easter. Advent only gets four Sundays, not seven. This is especially true in FL and other winter destinations when so many of our seasonal friends depart. We need resurrection because attendance, finances and activities dwindle. Not so at Presbyterian Church of the Covenant this year of 2023. We have more events unfolding than we can “say grace over”. Priscilla Fullerton has given new vitality to our pipe organ; David Pruyn on the trumpet and Dr. Danny Zirpoli—piano are spicing things up. Michele James Pruyn has brought her enthusiasm to the choir!

Linda and I are taking ten days of vacation. We will be at the Presbyterian Conference Center known as Zephyr Point on Lake Tahoe. I’m ready. We have welcomed Michele James Pruyn to our staff as Direc- tor of Music and Priscilla Fullerton as Organist. The staff recently met at our home for an informal din- ner with Alice Sherwin, Danny and Susan Zirpoli, Priscilla Fullerton, Michele and David Pruyn, Mike and Linda Mansperger for a relaxed time to learn about one another and the future of Covenant.

The Sarasota County Commission at it’s meeting on Tuesday April 25th approved the proposal to add 325 apartment units to the north of the church and 57 Townhomes overlooking the Intercoastal Water- way to the west of the church. Someday down the road we will have neighbors for the first time in the church’s history and a sewer connection! Is Resurrection possible for a bunch of weary and old Presby- terians? You betcha!

Roots Nature and Leadership Academy is going to be preparing for more students in September. Land has been cleared, a basketball court put in place; fresh security measures enacted and congratulations shared for the collaboration of Briana and Steve Santoro and their staff with our own James Pratt in es- tablishing a long term lease for the use of our campus!! Is resurrection possible? You betcha!

The Alcoholics Anonymous programs continue to roll along providing outreach, nurture and support to those who are wrestling with alcohol abuse. There are now five different groups meeting on campus weekly. Noontime Monday-Friday; Monday and Thursday nights; Saturday morning; Saturday night and Wednesday’s “Meditation Meeting” in the Chapel! If you haven’t ever spent 40 minutes quietly medi- tating on your faith—give the Wednesday evening meeting a taste at 6 p.m. 


This summer we are going to try something new during our Coffee Hour! Once a month we will plan to have

lunch together (yes, I know, some of us think we have been eating lunch most Sundays after worship). Watch for the date for our first “official meal” in the bulletin in June 11 for our trial. Realizing that pot luck is diffi- cult for some of us, we will be asking those who attend to bring along something to share for the Coffee

Hour. The church will provide beverages and an entrée and we hope to see the kitchen refrigerator filled with salad, dessert or a surprise for six or eight others. If we pull it off we will repeat the attempt. If we fail miserably, we will adjust and try again. Haven’t we always heard: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained?”.

Pentecost will be celebrated on Sunday, May 28 in Worship and we respectfully request that you wear some- thing red on that Sunday! You will see in the Presbyterian Symbol on our Order of Service cover (you call it a “bulletin cover”) :) the red flames reminding us of two biblical passages. Exodus 3 records the experience of Moses and the burning bush that is not consumed. Acts 2 unveils the empowering presence of the Holy Spir- it descending on the believers and the result of Peter’s preaching—reflected in the red flames on either side of the cross.

From the top we see the dove descending as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The “baptismal font” is just below the Dove reminding us that we have been baptized into Christ. The three horizontal lines are intended to re- veal both the Bible at the heart of the church and the Cross of Christ’s crucifixion. Below, you will see from the top—down: The Dove (Holy Spirit); The Baptismal Font; The Open Bible (that nurtures and informs our faith in Christ; The Cross (where Christ surrendered his life on behalf of the world and the church) and The Flaming Red fire of the Spirit.


When we gather for worship and you hold in your hand a “bulletin”, ”Order of Service” you can reflect on this vibrant symbol of the Presbyterian Church. When you look up in the sanctuary to the west end or front— above the pulpit and Chancel of the sanctuary you will see the stained glass window.

In February of 1986 Mr. James Houston (his wife Jessie had preciously died) donated the window when the sanctuary was built! Jim and Jessie are the parents of our own Judy Kraut married to Dr. William Kraut!

Most of us do not know that when James Houston died he left a financial bequest to Covenant, that began the renovation of the Sanctuary and campus! “Eyebrows” over the windows; “globe” chandeliers; Bahama shutters on the windows and faux beams in the ceiling—all because of Mr. and Mrs. Houston, their daughter Judy Kraut and Bill’s vision for breaking up the white expanse in the ceiling. All done under the supervision of James Pratt who served as the General Contractor for the various trades and designs! Thank you!!!

Thank you to all for the generous contributions ! !


There are two ways to view a sermon, and both begin by visiting our church website, which is

To view a recording after the service, just select “Media & More” and “Worship Archives” from the menu at the top of the page and you’ll see past services sorted by the most re- cent date. If you don’t hear any sound, click on the small speaker in the lower right hand corner of the screen.

To view the service live, there is a Facebook link with blue letters on our church home page, under the stained-glass picture and countdown clock which says:

“Click on the link to the right for this week’s sermon>”    

Presbyterian Church of the Covenant”.

This link will take you to our Facebook page and just under the church name is a menu, select “More” and “Videos” and you can view the live service. If you don’t hear any sound, click on the small speaker in the lower right hand corner of the screen.

If you’re a Facebook user, please feel free to post a comment or like and consider follow- ing our page, so you stay up to date on church event



PRAYERS: Carol Hartz, Carol Paul, Barbara Gerhardt, Janice Fox, Norma Lewis, Bob Harrod, Fred and Ellen Hummel and daughter Cynthia, Judy Bremer’s move to Bay Village, Minerva Rolli, Curt and Nancy Hood, Eddie Ruby, Mary and David Owen, Anna Fox, Claire “Chickie” Johnson, Marilou Swenson. Binnie Trimble, Barbara Niepert, Marilyn Gabriel, Jim Diefenderfer, Linda Page, Gayle

 Rivers, Ron and Jean Cota, Marilou Cannici, Roots Nature Leadership Academy, Covenant’s preparations for the new development and sewer, Michele James-Pruyn, Priscilla Fullerton, Alice Sherwin and Dr. Danny Zirpoli, Carson Brown who will be filling in for Pastor Mike while he and Linda will be in Lake Tahoe


100 Women Who Care— On March 15, 2023 it was decided to donate $21,750 to Good Samaritan Pharmacy & Health Services the chosen charity. A matching grant of $5,000 from the Richard M

Schulze Family Foundation was approved at the request of 100 Women Who Care– Greater Sarasota. Their next meeting will be November 15, 2023.

One Great Hour of Sharing—Thank you every one who generously gave to this year’s campaign. It was the highest amount raised in many years, $2,440 and in just three weeks. Praise be to GOD!

Roots Nature Leadership Academy– The Sarasota County Planning and Development Services       Department had a public hearing on April 6, 2023 about the increasing enrollment of 75 more students in the coming years.



May 7—Sacrament of Holy Communion

May 14—Carson Brown will be preaching on Mother’s Day as the Mansperger’s visit Lake Tahoe

May 28—Pentecost Sunday (please wear something RED) May 29 Memorial Day

June 4—Sacrament of Holy Communion

June 11— Carlanne Evans violinist in worship and POT LUCK Coffee Hour! June 18— Father’s Day


March 2023


Welcome Spring




GOD is up to something good! Roots Nature and Leadership Academy is giving new vitality to children ages 3-8 this year while Covenant supports their application to increase the number of students from 25 towards 100 (the intent is to add a group of 12-15 students and a teacher annually). With a “waiting

list” of 75 the Santoro’s and staff are off to a great first year.

The Sarasota County Planning Commission has recommended to the County Commission that some 325 apartments be built alongside of highway 41 and 52 Townhomes overlooking the intercoastal wa- terway. The developer will be required to bring the sewer line alongside of 41 so that Holiday Harbor homes and the church have access to that amenity.

Recently Carol Taylor, Jenny Washburn, Onie Morse, Diane Steiger, Alice Sherwin, Clark Niepert, Helen Krueger, Allen Steiger, Virjean Camp, Dana Trimble, from Covenant and Mike, John, Helena, Tom, Rick from A.A. groups dusted, swept, cleaned, washed, painted, laughed and freshened the Fellowship Hall bringing new life to that building!

One Hundred Women Who Care will be gathering Wed. March 15th to celebrate their milestone of giv- ing to the community in recent years. This semi -annual meeting has generated $200,000 in charitable gifts to not for profits in the community caring for those who struggle in this county!

Priscilla Fullerton has been playing our organ in worship on several Sunday mornings which has been a wonderful addition to worship along with Danny Zirpoli on the piano, the choir and volunteer director Ann Dorr have brought a fresh vitality to worship!

Marilou Cannici celebrated her 99th birthday on Monday February 27th and Marilyn Gabriel will do the same in April along with Jim Diefenderfer! We can all share in one fashion or another the “season of their 99th Birthday!

The Souper Bowl of Caring received $1,595 to help feed those putting food on our plates through Mis- ion Peniel and Peace River Presbytery’s ministry with migrant farm workers. Truly, God is up to some- thing Good. Thanks be to God!



This booklet is available to anyone who would like to help steward the church’s mission to grow the church! Written by Martha Grace Reese It has a wealth of “Adaptive Behaviors” that have proven to be profound influences on churches across the country.

Please contact Pastor Mansperger if you are curious about how you might shape Covenant’s future.


I recently attended a “ZOOM” class over the internet sponsored by Union Seminary in Louisville, KY. It was led by a young woman who is much wiser than her years. She has worked with hundreds of churches as a consultant for all things related to churches. When the class finished its three sessions, I asked if I could take one of her “Office Hours” and she graciously set up one more fifteen minute segment on her “ZOOM” account for me. I told her I would like to explore the stewardship of financial treasure in the life of a congregation. After asking something of our context at Covenant she informed me that when it comes to church finances, she likes to use two words: “Drip” and “Drop”.

She explained that most churches are sustained by our weekly “Drips” in the Offering Plates.

If the congregation is growing numerically and members and friends are faithful in their stewardship of the gospel as they relate to others beyond the church congregations can get by. If the members and

friends of the church are generous in their stewardship of finances from week to week. The church often has enough resources to care for the buildings, grounds, programs and mission that Christ have called that church to provide for. “Drips” are vital in every healthy church.

She then went on to suggest that there is also a place for “Drops” in the life of the church. Either at the end of a person’s life or in a moment of windfall when there are unexpected resources available. Gener- ous people may be in a position to support their church with a “Drop”. This comes in a form not possible from week to week in the offering plate at church, online or any routine giving that most of us engage in.

The “Drop” is only possible when financial resources are no longer essential for daily necessities, meaning either at death or some other extraordinary circumstance. Robert and June Wright have left their church family, Presbyterian Church of The Covenant a “Drop”! Bob and June wrote a will that included their church for twenty five percent of their estate at the time of June’s passing. There was an initial gift of

$10,000 that was sent to the church and the remainder will follow as their estate settles. Those of us who continue to give our “Drips” each week are obviously irreplaceable. Those of us who have chosen to pro- vide a “Drop” at the conclusion of our financial transactions , may never fully appreciate all that such gifts make possible.

Bob and June were greatly loved and respected in the life of the congregation and those of us who were fortunate enough to know of their joys and sorrows in this world should not be puzzled about their

“WHY” if remembering their church in their financial planning. They worshipped, sang, listened, orga- nized, laughed, studied and supported Covenant in Worship, Fellowship and Mission throughout their

lives, it was only obvious to them to leave a “Drop” when they no longer needed it. Thanks be to GOD!


Alcoholics Anonymous Proving to be Good Neighbors

In addition to helping clean the Fellowship Hall in February the AA groups provided Covenant with special gifts to the congregation. One gift was to repair the entrance door into Fellowship Hall that had been dam- aged during the year. One member does maintenance for a condo association and was able to secure a new hinge to replace the one damaged on our door. The same man was here with a chainsaw to help re- move the palm tree that fell at the north entrance to our campus during IAN.

The second gift was of $400 to assist in repairing the ice maker. When the ice machine was repaired the bill came to $440 which made the church’s share—one tenth of what it would have been. We are indeed grate- ful to the groups that meet on the church grounds.

Wednesday evening Meditation meeting 6 p.m.– 7p.m. In the Chapel.

Noon 12-1:00 p.m. Monday—Friday; Saturday morning from 7:30—8:30 a.m.; Saturday night from 7:30





On Friday April 5th, we will share our Third Annual Good Friday service with the Northminster and Bee Ridge Presbyterian churches. The Bee Ridge church on McIntosh road and Proctor will host the gathering this year at noon with bells, choirs and the community invited. Please join in this sacred time of remembrance as we pause to engage the sacrifice made on our behalf.

EASTER April 16th @ 10:30 a.m.

David and Michele Pruyne have agreed to share in our worship on Easter morning. David is a skilled

player of the trumpet who graced us with accompaniment on Christmas morning and will add a great lift to the lilies and festive celebration of the church’s identity of resurrection. Michelle will add her voice to this special morning.

Robyn Rocklein On Palm Sunday

Has sung with us in previous years and this year will join us for Palm Sunday on April 2nd at 10:30 as we prepare ourselves for Holy Week and this unique time of remembering the courage and vision that Jesus brings to his church in each generation.


Bruce McQuade

Is the tall slender friend of the church who shares the bounty of his “star fruit” and mangoes with us from season to season. He has also worked diligently to keep invasive plant species from taking over the church property and the Elling Eide Foundation property.

Bruce is with a group of fellow bicycle enthusiasts pedaling their way through the roads of Death Val- ley in southern CA. When he returns he will be brimming with tales of miles pedaled, sights seen and interesting people along the way. Way to go Bruce!

Linda Mansperger was asked to serve as the President of the Board of Directors of the Samaritan Counseling Services of the Gulf Coast for 2023. Linda is helping to serve the community through Sa- maritan sharing her vast experiences in the community with Samaritan that is providing counseling services through 18 employees serving over 20,000 clients in needs of encouragement, healing and care through the challenges of these recent years. Samaritan seeks to meet the needs of children, families, individuals and couples of all ages and backgrounds during these days.



Paul Gerhardt was called into the Church Triumphant on February 13th with a Celebration of his life bearing witness to the Resurrection of Jesus on Saturday March 4th at 11 a.m. in the sanctuary. His wife Barbara, daughter Katie, son John and the rest of the family would deeply appreciate your pray- ers as they adjust to this different chapter of faith in their lives.



Granville Thomas Miner went to be with the LORD on Friday, February 24th at home with family. Ar- rangements for a service witnessing to Tom’s faith are planned for Wednesday, March 22 at 11 a.m.




Jesus teaches us in Matthew 25, that in every time and season, the Church connects with itself and its Savior through relationships with those who have least. For over 70 years, One Great Hour of Sharing has partnered with others to take action to share God’s love.


Locally thousands of farmworkers’ lives were made better, thanks to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a worker-based human rights organization. CIW is a partner of the Presbyterian Hunger Program, a ministry supported by our gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.


The three programs supported by One Great Hour of Sharing: Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Presbyterian Hunger Program, and Self-Development of People. All work in different ways to serve individuals and com- munities in need. From initial disaster response to ongoing community development, their work fits together to provide people with safety, sustenance, and hope.


PRESBYTERIAN DISASTER ASSISTANCE - Works alongside communities as they recover and find hope after the devastation of natural or human-caused disasters, and support for refugees. It receives 32% of funds raised.


PRESBYTERIAN HUNGER PROGRAM - Takes action to alleviate hunger, care for creation, and the systemic causes of poverty so all may be fed. It receives 36% of funds raised.


SELF DEVELOPMENT OF PEOPLE - Invests in communities responding to their experiences of oppression, poverty and injustice and educates Presbyterians about the impact of these issues. It receives 32% of funds raised.


We will collect for One Great Hour of Sharing on April 2, Palm Sunday. OGHS helps to improve the lives of people in challenging situations. The Offering provides us a way to share God’s love with our neighbors in need. OGHS is the single, largest way that Presbyterians come together every year to work for a better world.


For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you wel- comed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Matthew 25: 35-36


The Mision Peniel Toy Drive in December was a great success. Over 100 plus toys were donated

from Presbyterian Church of the Covenant



Joys and Concerns

Norma Lewis, Barbara, Katie and John Gerhardt, Janice Fox and Tom Miner’s relatives, Mary & David Owen, Linda Page, Anna Fox, Curt & Nancy Hood, Binnie Trimble, Barbara Niepert, “Chickie“ Johnson, Tom Cunning- ham, Carol Paul, Gayle Rivers, Ken Angotti, Minerva Rolli, Doug and Muriel Maxwell, Marilou Swenson, Danny Zirpoli, Herman and Marian Wissenberg, Lois Reed, Jean Cota, Joyce Ruby and son Eddie, Bob and Liz Harrod, Willie and Ray McCray, Dale Matthews and friend Carol, County Commission and Planning Commis- sioners on the project to the north of the church,



It is a joy to have Priscilla Fullerton playing the organ and Michele and David Pruyne helping out in the choir. Roots, Nature Leadership Academy is thriving and growing.



Morgan Myers and her mom Cathy Camp completed a 2 mile run, Linda Mansperger is President of Samari- tan Counseling of the Gulf Coast, Bruce McQuade bicycling in Death Valley.

Happy 99th birthdays to Marilou Cannici in March, Marilyn Gabriel and Jim Diefenderfer in April