The Story So Far
The story of Covenant Life Church is genuinely a story that says more about God than it does about any people He has used along the way. In 2005, the Perry's and Tucker's met through the small group ministry of North Wake Church in Wake Forest, NC. Both families moved to the Wake Forest area for the purpose of attending graduate school at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with hopes of being equipped to plant and pastor a local church. As these two families walked alongside one another in ministry at North Wake, Justin and Drew entered the pastoral internship and church planting residency programs under the leadership of the North Wake elders. Through the direction of the Spirit and the counsel of church leaders and friends, we decided to join together for the purpose of planting Covenant Life Church.
Not only does this profile capture our hearts desire, but it also characterizes Tampa! In God's kindness, we are living in and ministering to a city that we love. In May of 2009, the Tucker and Perry families relocated from North Carolina to Tampa. During the first few months, we began the lifelong process of getting to know the culture and people of our new city. God allowed us to meet a vast array of people – people who had prayed for years for a church like Covenant Life Church (CLC); people who would prove to be persons of peace for us in the city; people who would hear the gospel for the first time, and everything in between. It was evident that He was working here, and by His grace we were privileged to join Him in His mission in Tampa. In September of 2009, we began worshipping together as a core group on Sunday evenings. We started teaching through CLC's mission statement and values, as well waking through the book of Ephesians. These gatherings were not a “public launch”; rather, it served as the venue whereby our core group was taught and united until we were ready for the next phase in seeing Jesus plant and build His church. During this time we also began gathering weekly in small groups (then called missional communities) seeking to apply God's word to our lives through study, accountability, and mission. Over the next few months, our core group of 7 turned into a group of people who were outgrowing the living room in which we were meeting. In March of 2010, God answered our prayers by providing a meeting space for CLC. The saints of First Baptist Church (FBC) Tampa agreed to give us access to the Culbreath Chapel, and on April 18, 2010 we covenanted together as a church with 13 members. In our five years at FBC, the grace of God continued to be evident as Jesus continued to faithfully build His church in CLC. We also experienced growth in our understanding of and love for God and His word. The results of such growth helped create a culture of that we have grown deeper in our understanding of God's word and obedience to His mission. At the beginning of 2015 it was clear that we were outgrowing our space at FBC, and we began a six-month search for a new place to gather. After much prayer and searching, the Lord provided us with a wonderful relationship with the saints of Palma Ceia Baptist Church (PCBC), located in south Tampa. In June 2015 we began renting space from PCBC, and since then the Lord has continued to strengthen Covenant Life's relationship with Palma Ceia Baptist. On March 20, 2016 the saints of PCBC joined Covenant Life's Sunday gathering. Through months of prayer and wonderful fellowship with the saints at PCBC, the two churches agreed to join together into one unified local church under the name of Covenant Life Church. The Lord, through the faithfulness of PCBC and their leadership, provided CLC with both a larger family and permanent home. Throughout 2016, this process of integration proved to be one of the more prominent examples of God’s grace and kindness to both churches. One of the values of CLC is to be a church that “display(s) God’s glory through church planting and church reformation.” Since our beginnings, a central purpose of ours has been to work toward this end, knowing that the gospel spreads when it is sent. That conviction led us in September of 2016 to plant our first church sending out 23 members. This new church, named “The Heights Church,” was sent into the Tampa Heights area of Tampa under the leadership of Drew Tucker, Brandon Whedbee, and Doug Hess. God continues to give us a passion for further church planting as we explore other regions, states, and countries in need of gospel-centered renewal. At the conclusion of 2016, one last milestone was reached in the life of our fellowship. The final transferal of property from PCBC to CLC was complete on December 30, and a seminal moment was realized. God had brought together two unlikely fellowships into one glorious union, and we rejoiced greatly. The saints of CLC and PCBC covenanted together officially for the first time as Covenant Life Church on January 8, 2017. Although brief, our story has been rich with God's grace. We are confident that greater things are to come for Tampa, and are humbled that God would work through us in our city. We invite you to pray for us and join with us as we join God on His mission for redeeming a people unto Himself.