It began in the living room of Harry and Phyllis Barbin. With them were John and Margaret Vose and Roger and Marilou Haydock, to discuss the idea of a new Episcopal Church in the Maple Glen area. Conversation with Diocesan officials and local parishes followed, and the first worship service of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church met in a rented hall near the corner of Limekiln Pike and Horsham Road on Sunday, September 10, 1967.
On Sunday, September 10, 2017 a bronze plaque commemorating these founding families will be dedicated on the large granite cross that overlooks the Memorial Garden. We will also dedicate a plaque that remembers a significant event that followed. When hearing of the new mission and their search for a permanent site, Marion van Steenwyk offered ten acres of her property that fronted Tennis Avenue for that purpose. The first church (now our Parish Hall) was completed in 1971.
Everything else follows from there: a committed core of people with a place to build and grow. A church is always built up of and by people, not bricks. St. Matthew’s was established by sacrificial gifts from faithful people, along with a great deal of “elbow grease” as members in the early days all took turns cleaning the church! Yet by 1975, the new mission was recognized by Diocesan Convention as a self-supporting parish.
A new building to provide offices and classrooms was added in 1981, followed by extensive renovations and expanded worship space in 1997, and another classroom facility in 2000. The congregation paid for,
and paid off, all these buildings, bit by bit, year by year.
This all was helped by unsolicited Estate gifts both large and small. Combined with our weekly offerings, this giving left the parish debt free. In this year we have received an unexpected gift of $94,000 – one of our members wanted to honor our 50th Anniversary with a gift that would have been made in her will! Earlier in the year, we received additional undesignated gifts for $12,000 and $1,000.
These outward signs point to a people who are here to work, pray, and give to honor the call of Jesus Christ upon us. The buildings and the budget are for mission.
For five decades we have worshipped and served Jesus Christ in our community and our world. We have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick, and welcomed the stranger and the homeless. We have baptized and nurtured children in the knowledge and love of the Lord, and have encouraged youth and adults in their faith.
Over the decades we have given many hundreds of thousands of dollars to works of mercy and diocesan mission and ministry. About all of this, I will have much more to say on Sunday, September 10, 2017!
It has been a great blessing for Lynn and I to be part of such a community for 32 years. To paraphrase Saint Paul: “Glory to God, whose power at work in us can do infinitely more than we can imagine!
~ Dave Robinson