Following circumstances that led to a long period of sober consideration and prayer, on December 16, 2012, Covenant Life Church ended its formal association with Sovereign Grace Ministries. We remain grateful to the leaders of Sovereign Grace who played a pivotal role over three decades in establishing and building the church.
In January of 2015 Joshua Harris announced plans to step away from his senior leadership role and pursue formal studies at Regent College in Vancouver, B.C. The Covenant Life elders wholeheartedly supported Joshua in the decision, expressing unbridled enthusiasm for his future mixed with a deep sense of loss and sadness to see him go.
Joshua’s last Sunday preaching was April 12, 2015. He and his family moved west in mid-June.
The next month, a Lead Pastor Search Team of elders and members started connecting with both the congregation and lead pastor candidates to explore who the Lord might bring to fill the Lead Pastor role. They received resumes, surveyed the membership, held focus groups and ultimately interviewed candidates. In October the Search Team recommended PJ Smyth of GodFirst Church, Johannesburg, South Africa, to fill the position. The elders soon added their enthusiastic endorsement and in December 2015 the congregation approved calling PJ as lead pastor.
As expected, a 10-month immigration process ensued, culminating with the Smyths receiving their visas in October 2016. PJ and family arrived from Johannesburg December 22, 2016, and PJ was officially installed as lead pastor on January 29, 2017.
Early in 2018, tensions developed within the Board of Elders. Outside leaders and church members were invited to help resolve differences related to preaching and polity, but in July the elders and P.J. decided to part ways. The Board of Elders continues to provide leadership for the church and P.J. intends to plant a new church in the DC Metro region.
Covenant Life remains an active, culturally diverse community of believers that exists to worship God, love one another, and make disciples of Jesus Christ—the same goals cherished by those first 55 members who met in a basement.