Brothers Andrew and Tom Covington grew up doing a lot together, from drama and Junior ROTC in high school to studying the same major in college. Now, that list will include being pastors.
Rev. Andrew Covington recently became lead pastor of Connexion Church, worshipping at Peachtree Academy on Salem Road. And Pastor Tom Covington just started as pastor of North Rockdale Baptist Church, located on Ga. Hwy 138.
Their road to ministry was more than coincidence.
"I think I always knew that I would be doing some form of ministry," Tom said.
That ministry work started out as being the children's pastor at Heritage Hills Baptist Church for Tom. Andrew also served as a part-time youth minister at a couple of Methodist churches.
And youth ministry was a fitting start. Both brothers pointed to their own youth minister during their middle school years, a man who, according to Andrew, was "hugely influential" in their mutual decision to pursue the ministry.
"Both Tom and I had an awesome time in youth group," Andrew said.
The brothers grew up with another brother and a sister, but Tom explained there was an age gap between their other two siblings.
"Andrew and I have always been real close because there were just two years between us," Tom said. "So we were buddies."
After high school graduation, Tom stayed in-state to go to the University of Georgia for his undergraduate degree and Andrew went off to Jacksonville State University in Alabama. Both majored in criminal justice, and early career paths led them to work with the Department of Family and Children Services - Tom in Newton County and Andrew in Cobb County.
Tom continued working his full-time job at DFCS while taking night classes at Luther Rice Seminary and University for a Master of Arts degree in Christian Studies. He graduated from LRU in 2010 and was ordained in the same year. By that time, Andrew was an associate pastor at Conyers First United Methodist Church after serving at East Cobb United Methodist Church in Marietta.
Andrew graduated in 2011 with a Master of Divinity degree from Emory University's Candler School of Theology.
Both brothers grew up Baptist. But Andrew joked that meeting "a good Methodist girl in college certainly had a part," in his transition to the United Methodist Church. Most of all, Andrew was attracted to the church's organization.
"I like the connectional structure of how we're all, really, one big church that meets in different places," Andrew said.
But the denominational difference was not a big deal due to their upbrigning.
"We had parents who felt that it was much more important to be Christian than to be Baptist," Tom said, adding his decision to be Baptist was made on his own.
"Even though I grew up Baptist, that was the choice that I really felt led to serve," Tom said.
These days, their parents worship at both sons' churches.
"For them (their parents), I think that's just kind of how we were raised. It was really about God's love and grace. Those are more important than a specific denomination," Andrew said.
Their extended family has also been supportive of the brothers' ministries. The two were officiates recently at an uncle's funeral.
"It was very nice to be asked by our aunt to do that for an uncle we loved so dearly," Tom said.
The pastors said they appreciate having each other as fellow ministers and support each other at the other's church when they can. Tom recalled Andrew's first communion service at Conyers First United Methodist Church.
"I told my pastor, ‘I need this Sunday off. I want to go and take communion from my little brother,'" Tom said.
"It's just a really cool time to be in ministry in Conyers," Andrew said, mentioning his previous ministerial work. "We want to meet the needs of the people in Rockdale County and it doesn't matter if it's a Baptist church, a Methodist church, a Presbyterian church, a nondenominational church."
Andrew said he ultimately wanted his service as a pastor to show that he "loved people, met them where they were, challenged them to really seek a better way of living through Jesus Christ and really experience transformation and life change."
Tom said he wanted to "love people," and "to be faithful to the gospel of preaching grace to the people."
"I would much rather people remember that their life was changed and they met Jesus and the change that made, than anything I did or said," Tom said.