Covington named senior pastor at Exodus United Baptist Church

Exodus United has selected Pastor Tembila Covington as their new senior pastor.

Covington named senior pastor at Exodus United Baptist Church
May 11
15:38 2022

Exodus United Baptist Church has been seeking a new senior pastor since Rev. Alvin Carlisle stepped away to start his new ministry at The Impact Church. After a tireless search, Exodus United has selected pastor Tembila Covington as their new senior pastor and the first female senior pastor in the 40-year history of the church.

Covington started her own church in Richmond County, N.C., a dozen or so years ago, but has lived in the Triad area for the last six and was seeking to plant roots in the community as a pastor.

“It had already been something I had been thinking about, finding a space where I can be planted here as a pastor. And so during COVID I had been seeking out various churches that were looking for pastors and went through that process,” Covington said about her search for a pastoral position in the area. “I had overheard through passing and saw that the previous leader, Rev. Carlisle, had started another church, so that led me to seek out and see if they were prepared and ready to search for a new pastor. 

“They were not immediately prepared to do that, but once they were prepared, they reached back out to me and would love to receive my resume and cover letter to see if we can begin the process. Indeed, I was one of the selected candidates and long story short, I became the selected pastor for Exodus United Baptist Church in January 2022. The first Sunday is when I was called to come and minister after having received my acceptance letter the week before.”

Covington has been a positive voice in the community, routinely standing up for what is right and just, while also pushing for better education for the children of Forsyth County. She is eagerly anticipating connecting with the local community.

“I am certainly excited about being here locally and being connected even more with the community on the southeast side of Winston-Salem and look forward to doing some great work,” she said.

Covington was confident about her capabilities of being the new senior pastor, but was a little nervous because she was not a Baptist pastor previously. The church she founded was non-denominational. She was raised Catholic and came from a Pentecostal association before starting her own church.

Upon hearing she was selected, there was a feeling of “happiness and feeling accepted,” she said.  

“This was my desire for some years now to really kind of find a place here,” she stated. “I had been working hard to make those connections to establish groundwork of accomplishment and leadership roles. I think I felt validated and accepted by the community, more so than really the excitement of having won a prize so to speak.”

Covington felt there was an instant connection with her congregation the first time they were able to interact with one another. She knows it will take time for everyone to get to know each other, but she is ready to take on that role.

“It was a great feeling. Of course, everyone at that point was really trying to get to know one another, so I think everyone at the beginning was a bit apprehensive to try and get to know me a little bit more,” she said about meeting her congregation. “Overall, we just embraced each other. The church was happy to have a leader because during the time of the pandemic, they did not have a spiritual leader and they were looking forward to having someone in place that could administer the ordinances of the church to teach and preach.”

The first thing Covington would like to do as the senior pastor of Exodus is to connect with the local community. While we are coming out of the pandemic and allowed to congregate in person, she would like to take advantage of that to reconnect with the people.

Covington is the president of the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity. Her role with the conference played a pivotal part in becoming the senior pastor of Exodus by allowing her to make connections and be in a leadership position.

“I do think that this opportunity to have been seen, to have been highlighted at many occasions, and to have done some great work as a leader, has allowed me to be able to establish a portfolio of great work and connections,” she said about her time as president of the Ministers’ Conference. 

“The ministers’ conference with its pastors, ministers and lay members, connections, networks, resources and influence, has been a space for me to showcase my skills and talents as a leader in this community. I don’t take for granted the opportunities I’ve been awarded during my term as president of the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity. I’ve been able to do great ministry with some great people whom I regard as my mentors.”

The ability to build is one of Covington’s strongest attributes, she said. She feels she has the ability to bridge things together to make a bigger impact, not only with just one individual, but also with the community.  

Being a Black woman, Covington realized the unspoken challenges that it presents and is more than ready to face them head on.

“As a Black woman, we know that there is always a lot to have to prove, regardless of whether it’s the Supreme Court justice, or even at home locally, there is always an expectancy that we have to do much more to prove ourselves,” she said. “The news of what we accomplished yesterday does not necessarily travel beyond 24 hours. It is an ongoing effort that has to be maintained, it has to be sustained and delivered constantly, so that people begin to adapt in knowing that we are able to deliver on our promises, we are able to deliver great work, and we are able to do that while loving and being nurturing.

Exodus will hold a pastoral installation service on Sunday, May 15, at 3 p.m. The service will be held at Exodus United, 2000 Wilbur. Street, in Winston-Salem. 

“I am excited because this is an opportunity to let everyone know that not only have I been selected to be the pastor of Exodus United Baptist Church, but we have invited many to be a part of this wonderful celebration,” she said about the service. “It’s not just for me, this is for the entire church at Exodus United Baptist Church, because they have gone through a season of not having the support from a leader while going through a most difficult time like a pandemic.

“Now they do have a leader and they do have someone that wants to care for them and wants to lead them in the way we should go. We want to be able to show the entire Winston-Salem community that we are here to stay. We are alive, full of love, available to share acts of kindness and service in the community and city of Winston-Salem. We believe in the greater work of a united people of believers to do good with those we fellowship with and worship with. We are here to stay until the glory of God.

Bishop Todd Fulton, senior pastor of Mt. Moriah Outreach Center in Kernersville, will be the guest speaker. Covington is thankful to Fulton for being one of the pastors who greeted her with open arms upon her joining the Ministers’ Conference. He was a mentor for Covington and provided connections in the community for her as well.

Fulton was not the only mentor for Covington in her time here in the city. “To name a few but not all mentors; the late Dr. Carlton Eversley, retired pastor Rev. Dr. John Mendez, Rev. Willard Bass, Bishop Sir Walter Mack, Rev. Dr. Dennis Leach and Lady Rev. Dr. Charolette Leach, Rev. Dr. Paul Wilson, Elder Reginald McCaskill and Sis. Aimee McCaskill, Senator Rev. Dr. Paul Lowe, Apostle Gloria Samuels, past president Rev. Dr. Linda Beal and many more.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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