The goal of our outreach ministries at Saint Matthew’s is to assist and uplift those persons in need in our community, our nation and the world in Christ’s name. We are currently accomplishing this goal by participating in a variety of local, national and worldwide ministries, as well as by financially supporting Episcopal funds and organizations that do the same. Our youth group, Sunday School, and Nursery School programs are also engaged in their own outreach efforts, and these are encouraged and supported financially by the entire congregation.
Listed below are brief descriptions of our current outreach ministries. We thank all those who labored in Christ’s name.
A nurse practitioner in our parish has been involved in medical missions to Haiti. We have supported her by providing medical and practical supplies, and financial support. A school for children and a trade school for adults have been, or are being, built. To learn more contact: Deb Montalbano
Mattie N. Dixon Community Cupboard
This ministry distributes food items to families in need in the Ambler area and surrounding communities throughout the year. Parishioners deposit non-perishable foods in designated boxes any time they are able. These items are delivered by volunteers on a monthly basis to the Cupboard location in Ambler. There is also a special large collection in early November for Thanksgiving. 19 The Nursery School also helps to support this ministry. Community Cupboard representatives noted that donations often decrease at the start of a new year. Therefore, the Nursery School has special collections January through April, coordinated with chapels, where the following specific items are collected: dish & bath soap, detergent, toilet paper, peanut butter and jelly. Coordinator: Nancy Williams.
Feed the Hungry
The St. Matthew’s community continues to contribute generously to the Feed the Hungry program. This allows us to commit to sending $250 each month to Grace Bean Soup Kitchen at Saint John’s Church in Norristown. As many as two hundred persons receive a nourishing meal on a regular basis through this ministry. Coordinated by Parish Office Staff
Family Lenten Food Drive
Each year, starting on Ash Wednesday, there are grocery bags available to the congregation along with a list of suggested food items needed for donation. The filled bags are returned to the church prior to Easter for distribution to the families throughout the Philadelphia region. As with the Feed the Hungry program, our community has been extremely responsive over the years in supporting this mission. It is often difficult to fit all of the donated goods into the volunteer cars for delivery! Coordinator: Laura Meschio.
This clothing ingathering takes place in the early part of each year. Clothing from infant through age 6 is sent to St. Timothy’s Mission on Barnes Mountain in Kentucky, located in one of the poorest counties in the United States. The clothing is always greatly appreciated. Coordinated by Parish Office Staff
The Adopt-A-Family Program is an extension of the Interfaith Housing Alliance (IHA). IHA takes care of Hope Gardens, an eight-unit apartment complex in Ambler. These apartments provide transitional housing for families leaving the IHA program who continue to need help in establishing a permanent residence. A prospective family may find sanctuary at Hope Gardens for two years while receiving continued support from parishes such as ours. We provide supplemental rent support to a family during their stay at Hope Gardens and sometimes act as an extended family by providing continuous emotional support and friendship. The program is working well and the Adopt-A-Family Committee welcomes participation from volunteers in our congregation to provide occasional transportation and babysitting and to respond to their special needs. We also provide Christmas gifts and occasional financial assistance in emergencies. Coordinated by Parish Office Staff
Diocese of Kitale High School Scholarships through Mwamba Foundation
Kitale is a largely rural region and lies in the north of Kenya bordering on Sudan and several other countries. The region is quite poor, and the diocese strains to help its 150,000+ rapidly growing membership. Mwamba partners with the Kenyan Church in order to offer scholarships to assist in the secondary education of girls and very poor boys in the diocese. St. Matthew’s participates in this program, pooling our donations to sponsor students. It costs about $400 per year to educate a high school student in Kenya. In a recent visit from Mwamba founders Emmanuel and Dorcas Chemengich, we learned that graduates have gone on to be teachers, nurses, an archeologist, and an airline pilot! Our goal has been to provide support for at least a dozen students over the next several yearsto enable these students to complete their high school education. We sponsored seventeen students in 2019!
Middle School Summer Service Camp (MSSSC)
Each summer, MSSSC takes place the same week as Vacation Bible School (VBS). Participants spend their mornings helping the VBS team with the children and the various activities. The youth then spend their afternoons performing service at various non-profit organizations in the area. For example, this year they sorted 20 clothing and donations at Cradles to Crayons in Philadelphia, as well as spent time with our home-bound members living at Fort Washington Estates. Coordinator: Karin Davis
Episcopal Community Services (ECS)
For many years, we have supported ECS’s Fill the Bus initiative, which this year supplied over 700 students with backpacks filled with all the necessary school supplies to start their year. We have routinely donated between 20 and 30 completely filled packs, along with gift cards for teacher’s supplies. In addition to supporting this specific program, we urge the congregation to prayerfully consider the financial support of ECS, especially as they reach out to support communities with disaster relief in times of need.
Acolytes assist the clergy and congregation in worship with the candles, cross and plates, and serving the celebrant at the altar. Acolytes are eligible to assist from third grade up.
George Bishop- Director
The altar guild is a group of women and men called to serve God by preparing and tending the places where His people come to worship. It is a ministry of time and many talents undertaken in the name of Jesus. Our work goes on quietly behind the scenes. This ministry often goes unnoticed as long as the setting for worship is the familiar one the congregation sees each week. In addition to preparing the sanctuary for all types of services as directed by the clergy, the altar guild also cares for all the vestments, the vessels and the paraments. We are further charged with obtaining the altar flowers as well as for their use in the flower ministry. The most exciting part of our ministry, is preparing for all of the “special” services, the baptisms, the weddings, and also the funerals . We also decorate the church, inside and out, for the celebratory seasons of Christmas and Easter. While this is primarily our work, we like to include the congregation in this wonderful activity.
The Adult Choir works on Psalms and anthems for the 10:30 a.m. Eucharist and special days of the church year, enriched by contributions from many fine guest instrumentalists, and supported by the strong presence of the organ and piano. It is a great joy when all these music forces join together on Sunday mornings and for special worship such as the Advent Lessons and Carols, Christmas Eve Festival Eucharist, Palm Sunday and Easter Day services. Philip LeFevre, our organist and choir director, leads this group. Anyone interested in participating in the choir here at St. Matthew’s should speak to Phil.
The Arise Music Team, made up of singers and instrumentalists, under the direction of Martha Reynolds and Anne Flood, provides music for the 9:00 Contemporary Service including voluntaries, anthems, and congregational songs. The nature of this music requires an audition by interested musicians.
The altar flowers are taken each week after service or on Monday to the sick, the homebound or to others. Those who are interested in this important ministry of care and comfort are scheduled by the coordinator for service, according to their availability. Mary Anne Noon-Childers – Coordinator
Eucharistic assistants receive the gifts of the people at the altar, and assist the priest by administering the wine at the 9:00 a.m. Sunday Contemporary Service.
7:45 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. service – Melissa Brown – Director
9:00 a.m. service – Pam Lang – Director
Lay Eucharistic Ministers
Lay Eucharistic Ministers carry the bread and wine directly from the altar to the sick and homebound. They have completed a diocesan training program and are licensed by the bishop for three years. Chris Strittmatter – Coordinator
The Ushers assist the Worship of the congregation as they welcome and seat people before services, take up the offering and perform other duties.
N. Trent Coombs – 9:00 a.m. Usher Coordinator
Bill Reynolds – 10:30 a.m. Usher Coordinator
Pastoral Care Visitation Team
This group of parishioners visits the homebound, the sick and others in the name of Christ and as representatives of the parish family. They have received special training to carry out this ministry of presence, care and prayer and are supervised by a member of the clergy. George Bishop – Coordinator
The Prayer Chain
The Prayer Chain prays daily for those parishioners, their families, friends and others who have special needs, lifting them up to God. Names may be placed on the prayer chain by contacting the coordinators. Names remain on the list for two months. Those who place people on the list are asked to resubmit names every two months (by the 20th of even numbered months) if continuing prayer is desired and to inform the coordinator when intensive prayer is no longer needed. Chris Strittmatter and Judy Ermigiotti – Coordinators