Welcome to St. Matthew’s!
St. Matthew’s is a vibrant, welcoming parish of the Episcopal tradition located in Madison, Alabama. We love welcoming guests to our church, whether you’re just in town for the weekend or are looking for a new church home. We hope you will enjoy your visit with us!
Those are great questions, especially if you’re relatively new to St. Matthew’s. Our ministry is modeled after Stephen, the first deacon selected. As described in Acts 6, he was a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit. We don’t picture ourselves as being Stephen reincarnated, but we do try to emulate his dedication and service to others. Stephen Ministers assist Fathers Steve and Rick by ministering, on a long-term basis, to folks who have suffered a life challenge and need a bit of help seeing their way through it. One can think of a Stephen Minister in a couple of different ways. If Fathers Steve and Rick are the first responders in a parishioner’s crisis, then the Stephen Minister assists them by meeting with the parishioner regularly until the crisis has passed and Christ’s healing is complete. From a different but related perspective, we’re the folks who will walk with you during those times when you literally question all that’s holy. During those times we’re not going to beat you over the head with a Bible (that’s assault, not ministering); rather we simply will be with you and try to be a reminder of Christ’s love for you during those times of doubt.
No, we’re not super Christians – we’re just your brothers and sisters who seek to love others as Christ loves us. Each of us has had a minimum of 70 hours of training in the ministry, as well as attending Continuing Education sessions twice monthly. We are not mental health professionals and do not purport ourselves to be, but we are pretty good listeners who can occasionally offer helpful insights that will enable you move to a new sense of normal. As important as anything else, everything remains confidential – no one except your Stephen Minister, the Ministry Leaders and Fathers Rick and Steve will know that you have a Stephen Minister. By the by, your Stephen Minister will be someone of your gender.
If you feel you’re at a point where things are getting to be too much, simply mention to either Father Steve or Father Rick, or talk to one of the Stephen Leaders (Chuck Vickers, Lorna Vickers or Debbie Heckler), and we’ll get you set up with a Stephen Minister with whom you can share your burden. Similarly, if you just have questions, feel free to contact one of the Stephen Leaders or Ministers – we’re the guys with the blue nametags.
WE ARE PLANNING A CHURCH GROUNDS CLEAN-UP DAY. The church grounds need some general cleanup & maintenance, trimming & grooming. Please join the effort on Saturday, Sept. 20th, 8:30am – Noon.
We need everyone’s help in getting our grounds ready for the parish picnic & Bishop’s visit! Please bring your lawn & garden tools and a “can do” spirit.
The changes expected with the construction of the new Mission Building are already beginning. As you are all well aware, we have already lost our “temporary classrooms” when the Adult Sunday School trailer was donated to help another church to accommodate the growth of its children’s programs. We’ve had to find a temporary home for some of the props and equipment that used to be stored in the classrooms. If you watch our construction site you will notice that the playground equipment has been removed and stored for reinstallation when the new building is complete. The old garden shed will be moved or replaced in the very near future and finally, we will be saying farewell to the old hickory tree. The bulldozers will be here soon after that.
We can expect to deal with other inconveniences, which I think are a part of the adventure of expanding God’s Kingdom here in Madison. We can expect some minimal parking disruption at the north end of the parking lot next to the construction site and there could be temporary drainage problems as the site is excavated and prepared for construction. Temporarily parking in the grassy areas may become a more frequent occurrence over the next year. You may find the driveway temporarily blocked with equipment and materials awaiting delivery. We can expect temporary disruptions to utilities, especially during the week. I’m sure we can expect some mud, dust, debris and possibly a few other obstacles yet to be discovered that are all temporary in nature as we progress toward a better future.
In short, be prepared for small changes and minor inconveniences each day you visit the church for the coming year as we progress toward a better future. There is definitely a little sacrifice of personal comfort and convenience in this endeavor. But the result will be 10 classrooms instead of the two we lost and a building of which we can be very proud. But most importantly, we need to remember we are doing this for Jesus, in His name, for the future of His church, and for all those who will come into his presence, especially here at St. Matthew’s.
Welcome back to Sunday school as we kick off our 2014 – 2015 year! Our first classes meet on September 7th, at 10:00 a.m. Great things are happening in the world of Christian Education. A big “shout out” goes to those who are teaching this year! A special thanks also goes to the teachers who are taking a break. They are appreciated for all that they
have done to make the St. Matthew’s Christian Formation Program so strong.
If you are not already attending Sunday school, now is the time! It’s never too late to introduce your child to these classes or to attend them yourself.
Due to the removal of the old Christian Ed. trailer, if you attend Fr. Rick’s or Andy Williams’ Adult Sunday school classes, you will now meet in the Parish Hall. New partitions have been ordered to give these classes their own spaces until the new Mission Building is complete.
If you are a quilter or enjoy other sewing, the St. Matthew’s Quilters Group invite you to join us the first Monday of the month at 6:30 in Gruman Hall. We help each other by offering hints and support, and the fellowship is priceless. Come and join us. Please contact the church office if you have questions.
(NOTE: Due to the Labor Day Holiday, the Quilters will meet on Monday, September 8th this month, Gruman Hall, 6:30pm.)
We had a “meet the teacher” event on Sunday (Aug 24) and many were in attendance. Lee Ann did a great job of cleaning the classrooms and providing refreshments for those that came. I went by all the classrooms and told all the students the same thing. I said, “You have great teachers that have committed themselves to you. Will you make a commitment to them and be here each week?”
Commitment is one of those ideas that we are losing in our culture. We commit ourselves to something that we think we will benefit from. Some of our commitments are like insurance. We commit to lessons for our children to insure they have the tools necessary to make it in the world. We commit to setting aside money for retirement, etc. Rarely do we commit to anything without some belief that “this will benefit me.”
Vacations are called Holiday (think holy time) in other parts of the world. Time away from the business and bother of everyday life is important and has great benefit. We need to get away sometimes to get a different perspective. I find that when I return from these, I am often exhausted. Then I look at what I have to do to catch up from my time off and
“Yikes!” We need to return from vacation eventually however.
Vacation is over at St. Matthew’s. Children are back in school, Sunday School has begun, we are getting ready for the bishop’s visit, stewardship season is back, and there are lots of “life issues” affecting our people. How can we possibly get all of this done?
The answer is to call on Jesus. We can’t do it ourselves. I often get the idea that there are some that think the weight of the church is my concern – Not! This is your church, this is our church, and this is Christ’s Church. The ultimate commitment has been made for us already. We can be a part of this Church if we choose, or we can opt out. Will we benefit from being a part of this Church?
A question arose recently (and has many times before) about the importance of a Christian perspective on stewardship. Is money the main focus here? I hope not. Stewardship isn’t about money exactly, although it does give the leadership some idea of what they are able to do in the way of ministry when we have pledges of money. Stewardship is about us. It is about recognizing that God has given us a gift. God gives us each other. God gives us a community that is together for one reason – Jesus Christ, and Jesus asks us to “love one another.” We are able to be the Church when we recognize this as a gift.
I am committed to you. During the course of a year in the life of a clergy person, we deal with many things – hospitalizations, death, job loss, divorce, sickness, babies being born, marriages, baptisms, teaching, etc. We need the support of a loving community to pull this off. We are committed to you. Will you make some decisions this year that will show your commitment? Perhaps more consistent participation in worship would be a start. Consistent giving to the support of the mission and ministries here would help as well. Joining one of the many ministry teams and following through on the assignments given would benefit.
If we all pull together, we will be rewarded. How will we benefit? We won’t know unless we commit ourselves to finding out. Vacation over. Commitment begins anew. What we give will be blessed. Thank you for all you do.
JESUS OF NAZARETH
(The following was first offered in my blog on The City. I present it here in hopes of reaching a wider audience. As always, I’d welcome your response, for our dialogue will bring us closer to God and to each other.)
At my last Haden Institute intensive in March, the Poet Laureate of North Carolina taught us about the importance of creativity in spiritual direction. “Start with an abiding image,” she insisted. To which I responded: “The ‘abiding image’ is that to which I attach a feeling, an insight, a voice that arises from my unconscious. This ‘abiding image’ is thus an incarnation of that unconscious material.”
I don’t recall a time in my spiritual life when there hasn’t been this persistently nagging voice telling me, “Something isn’t right.” For most of my years, I searched for the on-off switch, or at least for the volume control, to turn off or to turn down this irritating voice from the unconscious. I tried rigorous spiritual disciplines, and even seriously considered the monastic life. I attempted to accommodate the theological language of my tradition’s creeds and liturgies through an athletic and determined faith, using a Bo Jackson-like mantra, “Just do it!” When none of this worked, I went on an extended walk-about, immersing myself in things material and avoiding the church at all costs. But …… the voice remained.
After 10+ years, I “re-entered” the church. I did so with a commitment to listen to the voice of my muse: to seek the Truth; to be honestly faithful; to confront the sacred cows; not to waste spiritual energy on shoring up a crumbling orthodoxy; to focus on believing and living Jesus. To my amazement, I found there were many people on the edges of the church and religion who had a similar voice beckoning them “to sing the Lord’s song in a new way.”
As I began to formulate my thinking through writing, preaching and teaching, I discovered others who were articulating their muses in words similar or exactly like mine: Carl Jung, Joe Howell, Richard Rohr, Jack Spong, Marcus Borg, Bart Ehrman, Robin Meyer, John Philip Newell, to name a few. To use a Jungian concept to describe this experience, I think the Collective Unconscious is sending a powerful message that a much needed spiritual transformation has begun; not a revival of old things, but the birth of a new way of being; not resuscitation, but resurrection. Not believing, mind you, but BEING!
To refer back to the “image/voice-of-the-unconscious” dialogue: for me, there is a Christ Voice crying out from our Collective and Personal Unconscious that is incarnating in a new portrait of Jesus of Nazareth; not a paint-by-the-numbers portrait, but rather a portrait produced with finger paints.
Love & Blessings,
Thank you to everyone who came out for EYC Kick-Off Pool Parties in August! We had a great time at both parties and I think everyone is looking forward to an exciting year! As a reminder, from now on, the term “EYC” refers only to the Sr. High group (grades 9-12), while “PrEYC” refers to the Jr. High Group (grades 7-8).
The Dateable book study continues for the EYC. We meet on Wednesdays from 6:30-8:00 in the Sr. High classroom. Get yourself a copy of the book, Dateable: Are You? Are They?, and join in the conversation!
From now on, our visits to Madison Manor nursing home will be cut back to special occasions, rather than monthly. Our next visit will be around the holidays. Stay tuned for a specific date.
- 9/3 – 6:30-8pm, Dateable. Sr. High classroom.
- 9/7 – 3pm, Confirmation Class
- 9/10 – 6:30-8pm, Dateable. Sr. High classroom.
- 9/14 – 3 pm, Confirmation Class
- 9/14 – 5pm, Second Sunday. EYC will meet at the 5pm service for worship together. Afterwards, pizza and a movie!
- 9/15 – 6-7:15pm, Pizza With the Padre. PrEYC will meet in the Jr. High classroom for good pizza, great conversation, and a lot of fun!
- 9/17 – 6:30-8pm, Dateable. Sr. High classroom.
- 9/21 – 3pm, Confirmation Class
- 9/24 – 6:30-8pm, Dateable. Sr. High classroom.
- 9/28 – 3pm, Confirmation Class
If you signed up for the fall round of Foyers dinner groups, MARK YOUR CALENDARS! You are invited to attend the Kick-Off dinner in Gruman Hall on Friday, September 12th at the home of Scott & Tina Cechovic. You will be contacted by the organizers with all the details.
POC: Scott & Tina Cechovic 256-772-2939 and Brian & Dee Buzby 256-830-1416.
The Art Angels will meet for a regular monthly meeting, this month. The meeting will be Thursday, Aug 28th at 7pm. Don’t forget to bring your angel logo to the meeting! It is important that everyone attend as we have a lot of business to discuss. For more information, please contact the church office.
8:30am - Holy Eucharist, Traditional
11:00am - Holy Eucharist, Traditional
5:00pm - Holy Eucharist, Contemporary
12:00pm - Holy Eucharist, Traditional
Visit our worship page for more information.