Our Heritage

Our Heritage

First Covenant is supported and backed by individuals and organizations which, combined, provide decades of experience and expertise. Resulting as a response to major gaps experienced in the provision of traditional fiduciary services, First Covenant Trust is a joint venture between the partners of Blackburn, Childers & Steagall, PLC (“BCS”) and Eric Ratliff of the Ratliff Law Firm, with board oversight and, in part, trust function management provided by Delta Trust.

BCS is an accounting firm with 90+ employees and three offices in East Tennessee. BCS is now celebrating its 50th year of service to clients in audit and assurance, small business services, tax and consulting. In those 50 years BCS has become the premier accounting firm in Northeast Tennessee. The 10 partners of BCS bring decades of experience in addition to their partnership in the firm. Several have experience serving as trustees, and there is also a core of experts in fiduciary taxation at the firm. Also available to First Covenant through BCS are CPAs and investment professionals who understand the financial industry and will consult with First Covenant on financial industry best practices and compliance.

Eric Ratliff’s contribution to First Covenant is primarily through his legal practice. Along with his JD, Eric also earned an LLM in taxation and then studied at Oxford University, achieving a BCL equivalent. He is admitted to practice in Virginia, Tennessee, and South Dakota as well as the United Kingdom and Wales.

Delta Trust was created in 1992 by the lineal descendants of James Ford Bell (a leading figure in the American flour milling industry, a dedicated philanthropist and founder of General Mills, Inc.), to administer the trusts established by Mr. Bell for his descendants who currently live throughout the United States. The people at Delta have over 50 years of experience in the trust industry, and have partnered with First Covenant to secure its South Dakota charter and provide administrative, consulting and regulatory compliance support services, as well as to serve on its board.

In short, because of its heritage, First Covenant has all these resources and experience at its disposal.


Our Name

A Covenant is an agreement, promise or vow to do certain acts, and (or) to refrain from engaging in others. Consequences (either positive or negative) attend the fulfillment or breach of the Covenant. Ecclesiastes 5:5 warns that it is better not to vow than to vow and not pay. First Covenant Trust and Advisors, LLC exists to help its clients keep their promises—promises made to the most important people in their lives—often at a time when, for various reasons, they are not able to perform themselves. In light of the solemnity of the promises and the consequences involved, we take our responsibility very seriously. Our name also daily reminds us that we serve a covenant-keeping God Whom we are charged with imitating.