21 Dec 2010: We Mourn the Loss of Pastor Henry Covington

It is with great sadness that we inform you that Pastor Henry Covington, 53, passed away this morning. Henry was pastor of Pilgrim Church/I Am My Brothers Keeper Ministries, a church that was featured in Mitch’s book, Have a Little Faith.

Through his ministry, Henry cared for Detroit’s poorest, and offered shelter to the homeless in the church’s basement. He did this with no money, with a gaping hole in the church’s roof, without knowing where he would find the resources to keep providing.

Mitch met Henry through S.A.Y. Detroit, a Detroit-based charity Mitch founded that was going to help provide a tarp to cover the hole in the church’s roof. From a wary introduction grew a tender friendship. Together, and with donations raised through the Shinglebells campaign last year, the roof was repaired. Now in its place is a plaque with the names of all who donated.

Henry was a dear friend, an inspiring pastor, and a very kind soul. He took care of those who were ignored by others. He opened his home and his church to those who needed him most. And he gave thanks each day for the opportunity to do so.

We will miss him. 

He is survived by his wife, Annette, and their four children.

Henry Covington

Henry Covington

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Memories of Henry

Memories of Henry

Last photo of Henry, so happy in NYC Monday. We had a great day. Can't believe he's gone. Please don't forget his church.

Henry, Janine and me at Rock Cent in NYC. His spirit will never die A big man in every way.

At a banquet celebrating the launch of Have A Little Faith, Henry wrote and performed this song, "What About the Children?"


From Mitch

My friends, in the midst of my sorrow I need to stop and thank all of you, so many of you, so many people I have never met, taking the time to share your prayers and condolences. It is am amazingly human thing to see how people come together over loss. It is humbling, It is comforting. Henry and I were as different as you can get. Yet over time, we came to trust, then like, then love one another. He gave me such joy. He was always so happy when I walked in the church door. He just lit up. And I know we both loved breaking down the stereotype that black and white or different faiths somehow couldn't be friends. 

You all are breaking down barriers as well with your heartfelt words, proving that, as I once wrote, strangers are just family you are yet to meet. 

God bless all of you, and my deepest thanks on behalf on the Covington family and myself. 

May your holidays be full of love and family


Help to keep it going

You can continue to show your support for Pilgrim Church/I Am My Brothers Keeper Ministries by donating: 

You can learn more about the church here

Read More About Henry

Here are some of the pieces that help tell a little more of Henry's story:

Finding the Silver Lining

Parade Magazine | September 27, 2009

Rain falls on the church roof. It pours through a gaping hole and splashes onto the pews. Against the plop, plop, plop of gathering water, a pastor urges nearly 100 weary men to believe in the future. They wear old jackets or sweatshirts. They line up for chili and cornbread. They sleep on the floor, atop vinyl more

Dreams Deferred: An Even Tougher Battle

Detroit Free Press  |  December 24, 2008

The man who lost his toes to frostbite lays down on a mattress, and the man who lost his teeth to street fights checks the final name off his clipboard. The room quiets and the lights dim and Henry Covington, the pastor, who turned this church gym into a floor of hope at the bottom of the world, walks a rickety balcony and surveys the homeless men more

The Courage of Detroit

Sports Illustrated  |  January 12, 2009


This was Christmas night. In the basement of a church off an icy street in downtown Detroit, four dozen homeless men and women sat at tables. The smell of cooked ham wafted from the kitchen. The pastor, Henry Covington, a man the size of two middle linebackers, exhorted the people with a familiar chant.

“I am somebody,” he yelled.

“I am somebody!” they repeated.

“Because God loves me!” more