Sr. PastorRev. Stella Burkhalter brings a colorful background in the faith, having been grounded in rich tradition in Laredo, Texas in the Roman Catholic church, come of age in a Pentecostal church during her youth, and been nurtured in the United Methodist Church as an adult. All of this gives her an appreciation for the many ways God reaches us and for the many ways we reach back to God.
Stella graduated from the University of Texas’ School of Communication and received a Master of Divinity degree from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She previously served three years at Oak Hill United Methodist Church as an associate pastor and Covenant UMC as Associate Pastor and children’s minister.
She has a husband, Hunter, who really is a hunter; one son, Wyatt, who will be attending Southwestern University; one daughter, Emery, who is a senior at Austin High; and one dog, Shepherd, who is overly affectionate and likes to escape from the yard.
Youth Minister Director
Randy Knighten serves as youth minister at Covenant UMC. He has worked in youth and urban ministry in Louisiana and Tennessee since 2000. Before joining the staff of Covenant in April, 2014 he served as youth minister at Andrew Price Memorial UMC in Nashville, TN.
Randy and his wonderful wife, Maya, have two amazing sons. He has a heart for reaching out to people on the fringes, and he serves weekly at the Free Store and as a mentor at Anderson High. He is also pursuing a degree at Austin Seminary.
Director of Children's MinistriesEmma Lake is from Tomball, Texas and graduated from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music. Her love of service and children has taken her to the mountains of Kenya for mission trips to a summer as an au pair in Spain. She loves to lead kids of all ages in singing with her ukulele and acting out imaginative skits with joy and creativity. Emma has served as the Director of Music for Magnolia United Methodist Church, Elementary Music Teacher for Salem Lutheran School in Tomball, and most recently taught at the Center for Music Therapy in Austin which serves children and adults with disabilities. She joined the Covenant community in October 2014.
Minister of Music Ministries
If you meet Kathy Smallwood, she will most likely ask you, “Do you sing?” Kathy has been Director of Music at Covenant for twenty years, and she is always on the lookout for ways to build the choir and build up others in their ability to use their gifts for God’s glory. Covenant’s choir is known for their wonderful, theatrical cantatas, and Kathy is a sought-after speaker and teacher in church music circles.
Kathy has enjoyed a long career as a church director and soloist and has performed around the world. She taught music in the Austin Independent School District for 24 years and in 2002 was named Teacher of the Year at Boone Elementary. Kathy still uses her gifts for teaching and directing children. She is married to Don, who not only sings, but fixes everything that we break at the church.
Matt Cardona comes on board as Covenant UMC’s worship leader bringing a passion for music, church, and community building. He also serves as the Director of the United Methodist FreeStore where he manages daily operations and leads a weekly Bible study and worship service. A graduate of Concordia University at Austin (BA in Music Ministry), he most recently served as Music Director at St. Mark UMC, leading both praise band and choir. He is encouraged in his endeavors by his wife Shawna, a high school teacher and coach, son Abel and daughter Emilia.
Jan Glosser accepted the position of Preschool Director in the summer of 2016. Jan taught pre-Kindergarten at Covenant UMC Preschool for eight years before becoming Director. Her previous experience includes other preschool teaching, as well as teaching kindergarten and first grade. She holds her bachelor’s degree in Elementary/Kindergarten Education and her master’s degree in Children’s Literature. At home, she and her husband, Jeff are parents of three children – Jenny who is 20, Cole who is 16, and Delaney who is 13. Both of her daughters graduated from our preschool program.
Carla brings many gifts to the church. She is dedicated and organized, and most of all, has a heart for children. She runs our nursery with great care Carla’s background is in business, and she has served as a Sunday School teacher and VBS director. She is always willing to get in on the fun with kids, even if it means transforming herself into a human Twister game at the fall festival.
Steve Wottrich is our faithful pianist and organist. We are blessed to have someone of his caliber who is able to play so many styles with such grace. You might see him on the streets of Austin in his day job as a postman.