Mission, Values , Annual Theme
The mission of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church is to know Christ and make Him known through the power of the Holy Spirit by devotion to Christ, fellowship within the church, and revelation of God's nature in word and deed. Today, members of St. Matthew's consider themselves to be part of a "sent community," commissioned to spread the gospel in our community and beyond.
As part of being "sent out," our members are involved in a number of mission trip opportunities each year, both foreign and domestic. For five years, including 2008, we have sent adult and youth members to Belize for school construction, medical aid, and cross-cultural evangelism (click here for more information). The members of the parish also personally and financially support a wide range of mission and outreach programs locally, including ministry to the homeless and the families of prisoners. We have helped build homes with the Richmond chapter of Habitat for Humanity and in 2006 and 2007 sent mission groups to Louisiana and Mississippi to help in the rebuilding efforts following Hurricane Katrina. Our youth also spend time serving our local community.
Our Long Range Plan
Goal 1: To develop the congregation’s Biblical knowledge and application in Christian living through education for all ages.
Goal 2: To provide intentional care for all persons and groups at St. Matthew’s to enable them to grow as disciples of Christ.
Goal 3: To provide opportunities for members of the congregation to share their time, talent, and treasure in local community outreach.
Goal 4: To make visible the mission and ministries of St. Matthew’s, as we seek to fulfill God’s purpose as a church.
2013 Annual Theme: Metamorphisis
By Rev. Chuck Alley, Rector
I closed my annual report last year with the prediction that the “year 2012 should be the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in the ministry and mission of St. Matthew’s.” In anticipation of that reality our focus Scripture for 2012 was 1 Peter 2:9: “…you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” The description of a community fulfilling such a calling was summarized by three phrases: Blessed to be a blessing; giving what has been given; and, mission committed community.
As a community our 2012 adventure was bracketed by two mission trips to Langano Farms in Ethiopia and punctuated by mission trips to North Carolina and southwest Virginia, as well as our continuous presence with C.H.A.T. (Church Hill Activities and Tutoring). A new excitement for St. Matthew’s day was ignited by an “on-site” mission experience in which we provided opportunities to sew clothes for needy Ethiopian children, build tables for C.A.R.I.T.A.S. houses, make quilt squares for baby blankets, write notes of encouragement to missionaries, and fill bags of grace for the homeless in our community. The mission offerings throughout 2012 brought us closer to our goal of each member of St. Matthew’s participating in a hands-on mission activity.
A new initiative that shows great potential is the Commonwealth Fellows Program that was introduced last year. Although we were disappointed that we did not have a class of fellows for 2012, we are looking forward to recruiting a class for 2013. The Fellows Board is dedicated and excited to invest what it takes to have the program running as a quality option for this year’s college graduates.
A major disappointment has been the attendance at our weekly worship services. The average attendance on Sunday mornings (including both the 8 and 10:30 am services) has been decreasing over the past five years, but dropped from 279 in 2011 to 243 in 2012. In addition, our Christmas and Easter celebrations were under subscribed relative to previous years. At the same time, and somewhat paradoxically, the financial picture was quite positive by the end of 2012 and the average pledge for 2013 exceeds that of 2012. I see this as an indication that we are growing as disciples and becoming deeper in our understanding and commitment to Christ. We expect that this will translate into a new enthusiasm for inviting our neighbors to church and result in a resurgence in the numbers attending our worship services.
We are looking forward to continuing our mission emphasis and transformation into a community of disciples. Our theme for 2013 is “Metamorphosis,” and our focus passage from the Bible is Romans 12:1-3. On World Mission Sunday, February 10, our Parish Hall class will be led by the mission team from the Church of Our Savior, John’s Island, South Carolina. Their Rector, the Reverend Michael Clarkson, will be our preacher at both services. In addition, they will be meeting with the Missions Committee, Outreach Committee, and Vestry during their visit. On Sunday, February 17, and the Wednesday evenings during Lent we will be taught about Mission discipleship by Ken Barnes of Youth with a Mission. Again the year will offer local and distant mission trips. The Young Lives camp will be at Rockbridge in the Goshen area of Virginia, and we will be returning to Cherokee, North Carolina. There will also be a trip to Langano Farm in Ethiopia in October.
We are building on the excitement of 2012 and it is our prayer that you will catch the Spirit and be a part of this community of growing disciples.
Yours in Christ,