John Peterson, Pastor                              

John has served as pastor at Covenant since 1995. He is a graduate of the College of Wooster (1979), Dickinson School of Law of Penn State University (1982), and Union Presbyterian Seminary (1993). He is active in the presbytery and community and currently serves on the boards of the Staunton Augusta Church Relief Association, Augusta Health, and the Shenandoah Presbytery Corporation. His wife Karen is a retired elementary school librarian. They have two grown children and one granddaughter.

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Rachel Watson, Associate Pastor          

Rachel came to Virginia from Austin, Texas in 2023 to join the Covenant family as the associate pastor. The granddaughter of a Presbyterian pastor and the daughter of a church musician, Rachel literally grew up in the church building where ey found eir home in Christian formation, teaching Sunday school and youth group and developing curriculum for all ages. Rachel holds a BS in Psychology from the University of Houston and taught early childhood education in a suburb of Houston for 17 years before beginning eir studies at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 2018. Rachel’s seminary studies settled around the areas of Christian formation and worship. Ey cares deeply about creating spaces for faith formation where people are encouraged to ask questions, wonder about faith together, and find themselves in the story of the people of God. In eir spare time, you will find Rachel playing board games with eir spouse, Douglas, spending time with eir three teenage daughters, Delilah, Karen, and Lily, or petting eir four cats. 

Martha Pierce, Administrative                                          Assistant                         

The voice you hear on the other end of the phone when you call Covenant Presbyterian Church is that of Martha Pierce. Martha has over 30 years experience in business and customer relations.  She has a degree in Commercial Art, certification in Executive Secretarial Studies, and a recently completed BA degree from Mary Baldwin University in Business Management. Martha and her husband, Ron moved to Staunton in August of 2017 so they could be close to 6 of their 13 grandchildren. Martha and Ron have 6 grown children. In her spare time, Martha enjoys traveling, reading, photography, knitting/crocheting, and spending time with family and friends. Interesting fact: Martha once placed in an art competition and her piece was displayed in a Washington DC art gallery.

Jeff Ryman, Minister of Music               

Jeff Ryman received his Bachelor of Music Education degree at James Madison University where he studied Voice, Piano, and Choral Conducting. He is finishing his Master of Music Education degree at JMU. Jeff has been on the music staff at Covenant since 1997 and has been the Minister of Music since 1999 serving as the director of the adult choir and coordinating the music staff. Some of the highlights of his time at Covenant include directing Requiems by Rutter, Mozart, and Faure as well as commissioning several anthems from David Schwoebel. While at Covenant Jeff as served on many committees and was excited to be a part of the Ethiopian Partnership with the Bedele Church where he visited in 2003 and 2006.

Jeff is also the Choral Director at Waynesboro High School where he directs four choirs and teaches Advanced Placement Music Theory. He is passionate about acting and performs with Oak Grove Theater, SheananArts, and The Wayne Theater. Jeff lives in Staunton with his two children, Phillip, an FAA Mechanic at Dynamic Aviation, and Joanna, a senior at Waynesboro High School.

Chris Wszalek, Organist                          

Chris started his career as a church musician at the age of 16 serving as the pianist for West Side Baptist Church in Harrisonburg, VA. He majored in music composition and pipe organ at James Madison University and graduated with honors in 1997. He began serving Covenant as organist and pianist in the summer of 2001. During the week he works at JMU’s campus bookstore. In his spare time he likes to record music, restore old recordings, and build furniture. Chris’ lovely wife, Becky, is also a music graduate of James Madison University. She is a soprano soloist and taught general music at Ashby-Lee Elementary School in Quicksburg, VA for several years. She currently teaches private music lessons at their home in New Market, VA. Chris and Becky are proud parents of twin girls.

Lou Dolive, Handbell Director               

Lou received his BA in music from Florida Presbyterian College (now Eckerd College). He has conducted bells for over 30 years and started bell choirs at two Presbyterian churches in the Staunton-Augusta area.  After 21 years as an organ builder, including 13 years with Taylor & Boody in Staunton, Lou has been self-employed since 1995 as a conservator and restorer of early keyboard instruments, mostly square pianos from before 1820. He has also done extensive work conserving keyboard instruments at Colonial Williamsburg. 
     Lou and his wife, Ruth Arnold, live southwest of Staunton in a timber-frame solar house they designed and built themselves. They have two grown children and four grandchildren.  Ruth retired from her position as Director of the Staunton Public Library in 2017. Lou and Ruth are longtime vegetarians (now mostly vegan). They currently sing in the Covenant Choir and with Schola Cantorum in Waynesboro. 

Kat McLean,                                                Director of Children’s Music

Kat McLean is a native of Waynesboro, Virginia, where she graduated from Waynesboro High School in 2014. She received her Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Radford University in May 2019 where she studied choral conducting under Dr. Meredith Bowen and early childhood education under Dr. Jennifer McDonel. She gave voice lessons and assisted in musical theater workshops as well as choral rehearsals at the Virginia Summer Residential Governor’s School for Visual & Performing Arts and Humanities at Radford University in the summers of 2018 and 2019. She attended the Choral Music Experience at Michigan State University in the summer of 2017 to study under Dr. Sandra Snow and Dr. Lee Kesselman where she worked with and conducted the Michigan State University Children’s Choir. In the spring of 2020, she had the opportunity to conduct the Danville All-City Elementary Choir in Danville, Virginia.      She began her career as the choral director at William Fleming High School in Roanoke, Virginia. She is currently in her 5th year of education as the music teacher at A.R. Ware Elementary School in Staunton, Virginia.

Mitzi White, Preschool Director            

Mitzi has been with Covenant Preschool since 2007, first as Lead Toddler Teacher and at present as Preschool Director.  She has been working with children her entire adult life. She and her husband, Chris, have lived in Staunton since 1993 and have three children. Mitzi has enjoyed being part of the Covenant community and  looks forward working each day with the preschool children. Helping families navigate through these precious years is a passion and a great joy.

Kathy Phillips Henderson, RN,

Covenant Community Nurse

When Kathy and her family joined Covenant more than 15 years ago, she was a reading teacher for the afterschool program at Craigsville Elementary School and spending a lot of time running rescue for Churchville Volunteer Fire & Rescue Dept. Shifting focus, she enrolled in nursing school, and received her R.N. license in 2010, subsequently working for Western State and Staunton City Schools.  A native of Richmond, Kathy graduated from Hollins University with a B.A. in American Studies. She received an M.A, in Photojournalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She spent more than 25 years working at newspapers – 17 of them at Richmond Newspapers  –  and is a past president of the Va News Photographers Association. She, husband David and daughters Julia, Elizabeth and Isabel moved to Augusta County in 1997.  Kathy has volunteered at Hospice of the Shenandoah, Augusta Free Clinic and CASA, and at Covenant has taught Sunday School, cooked for Vacation Bible School and helped build houses in Baja, Mexico.  As a Faith Community Nurse, Kathy is charged with enhancing health and wellness promotion within our spiritual community. This includes health education and research; acting as patient advocate or liaison between congregants and medical professionals; and setting up informative presentations. Please feel free to let her know how she may be most helpful to you!

Paul Sorrell, Treasurer