Choirs Gear Up For Fall

Sanctuary Choir

Join the Sanctuary Choir! Practice begins Wednesday evening, August 29th, from 7:20 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.. in the choir room, located in the Christian Education wing. Contact Kyle Osborne for more details.

Hand Bells

Hand bells resume practice Wednesday, August 22 at 5:30 p.m. in the in the choir room, located in the Christian Education wing. If you are interested in playing hand bells please contact Sharon Ferrell.

Cherub Choir

Cherub Choir has begun practice on Sunday mornings from 10:15 – 10:45 a.m. in the Christian Education wing. All children ages three through second grade are encouraged to join this energetic group. Cherubs sing approximately once per month at the 10:30 service. Contact Laura Starratt for more information.

NEW! Children’s Choir

Children’s Choir will meet for the first time on Wednesday, August 29 from 6:30 p.m. – 7:10 p.m. in the choir room. All children from third through sixth grade are encouraged to take part in this new music ministry at St. Matthew’s. Come make a joyful noise for the Lord! Contact Kyle Osborne or Sharon Ferrell for more information.

Instrumental (Any Age)

Calling all instrumentalists! If you play an instrument and would like to share your talents in worship please contact Kyle Osborne .  All ages are invited to participate,

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Photos From Worship and Celebration in Honor of Sally Ulrey’s Ministry

Check out photos of Sunday’s Celebration of Sally’s Ministry!


After 15 years of serving St. Matthew’s, Sally Ulrey’s last day was July 31.  We worshiped together Sunday using a liturgy that was composed in part by alumni of Sally’s youth program. Youth participatde by serving as acolytes, greeters, ushers, lectors, communion ministers and musicians. The worship music was that used during services at youth gatherings.  A reception for Sally and her family followed in the Parish Hall. We will miss Sally, and wish her Godspeed in her ministry. She was a blessing to all of us here at St. Matthew’s.

Our youth with our visitors from St. Mark’s in Jacksonville, preparing to head to the Church of the Common Ground

Youth Service Retreat “Seek & Serve”


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A Thank You Note From Mother Liz+

This last Sunday’s service of Pentecost was a great celebration – of the coming of the Spirit, of the reflection of the Holy Spirit as seen in baptism of three new children into the body of Christ, and in the welcome of new families to membership at St. Matthew’s at both the 8 and 10:30am services. AND we celebrated graduation of six high school seniors!

I would like to thank all of those who worked to make the Sunday so special: the altar guild, the flower guild, the great decorations, the choir, the children’s participation, Tammy Pearson’s altar flowers – there are so many more people I could list – it just goes to prove our motto – it REALLY is the people! Thank you! Mother Liz+

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9 To 99 Sunday School Class “Expressions of Faith” Workshop

Many thanks to all who attended the 9 to 99 Sunday School, where parishioners ages 9 and up participated, learning ways to express their faith.  Special thanks to all who facilitated a workshop: Sylvia Campbell for Communion Bread, Nancy Piechowiak and the Knit, Crochet & ray group for “Crochet and Pray”, Beth DiGiovanni and Janis Williams for Altar Flower Arranging, Sally Ulrey for Praying in Color, and Diane Eberhart for Easter Stories!  Everyone had a great time, and it was a chance to get to know each other across generations!


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The Great 50 Days of Easter

I have had questions each year about some of the changes in the worship service that take place immediately after Lent.
The time from the Great Vigil through the Sunday celebration of the Feast of Pentecost is known in the Church as the Great Fifty Days. As with many Christian celebrations, it takes its roots from Jewish tradition. The feast we call Pentecost is drawn from the Jewish celebrations of Passover and Shavuot. The time between Passover and Shavuot is known as the Feast of Weeks, which counted a week of weeks, or 49 days, with Shavuot occurring on the 50th day. Shavuot was originally an agricultural festival, but it came to be celebrated as the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai.

Pentecost, also known as Whitsunday, is the eighth and last Sunday of Easter. Since Easter is not just one day, but a season, there are practices the church does to mark this time as a special time of celebration:

  • The Paschal candle is lighted during all services.
  • The Easter acclimation is used at Eucharist and at the daily offices.
  • “Alleluia, alleluia” is added to the dismissal at Eucharist celebrations and the daily offices; fraction anthems including Alleluias are chosen, as are hymns with multiple Alleluias.
  • The Confession of sin may be omitted entirely during the 50 days.
  • Some churches follow the prohibition made during the Council of Nicea in the fourth century that prohibited kneeling during the great 50 days, whether during the Eucharistic prayer or when receiving communion at the altar.
  • A lesson from the Acts of the Apostles is appointed for every day during the Great 50 Days, and is used as the first reading on Sunday, in place of the Old Testament lesson.
  • Since the entire season is a celebration, the vestments and altar colors are white.

Since it helps us to remember that Easter is a season and not ust a Sunday St. Matthew’s follows most of these changes during the Great 50 Days. See how many you notice this Sunday!

The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia, alleluia!!

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New Director of Music Announcement

Mr. Kyle Osborne is St. Matthew’s New Director of Music

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Kyle Osborne as St. Matthew’s Director of Music, effective April 16, 2018.

Kyle comes to us from St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church in McDonough, where he served as Director of Music and organist since 2016. He has over ten years’ experience in  Episcopal churches but has also served in Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist and Christian churches. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in organ performance from Stetson University in Florida and has done post-graduate work at the University of Tennessee and the University of Texas.

Kyle received enthusiastic approval from every member of the Music Search  Committee. David Chandler, chair of the Search Committee, described Kyle as a virtuoso organist who embraces a diversity of musical styles and cultures; who has  experience in working not only with adult choirs, but with children and youth, and who has the capability to build a music program.

Kyle will be on campus the week of April 16, and will play at the 8 a.m. service on April 22. Please join me in welcoming him to St. Matthew’s.

I would like to thank David Chandler and members of the Music Search Committee for a job well done, not only in finding excellent candidates for our next Director of Music, but also for creating a Vision for the music Program.

I would also like to thank Russell Meyer for a wonderful job as our interim organist and choir director over the past several months. Russell came on board in the aftermath of the flood with the music library in storage and no rehearsal hall. Yet he made it work and led the choir capably during this transitional time. Russell, we are grateful for your leadership and talent.

Peace, Liz+

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April 22 was Youth Sunday–Check It Out!


April 22nd is Youth Sunday, where the Youth run the service, pick the music, help with the sermon, act as EMs, read the readings and lead the psalm.  It’s a great time to allow the youth to practice living into their ministries, and to offer their  services to the church  and to  God. And, even though  it may be a  little different,the energy and enthusiasm of our youth is refreshing and you might be surprised, but they have a lot to teach us older folks as well.  You can learn a lot from our youth!  Please come learn, worship and participate with us on Youth Sunday!

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Holy Week and Easter Services at St. Matthew’s

PALM SUNDAY — SUNDAY, March 25, 8:00 a.m. AND 10:30 a.m. (with incense)

Blessing of the Palms and Palm Procession both services


Monday, March 26, at 7:30 p.m.


HEALING EUCHARIST   WEDNESDAY, March 28, at 10:00 a.m.


MAUNDY THURSDAY THURSDAY, March 29, at 7:30 p.m.


9:00 p.m. Thursday—11:30 a.m. Friday.

Sign up on the sheet in the narthex at church to watch and pray overnight.


11:30 A.M. Stations of the Cross

12:00 NOON Good Friday Service with music

6:45 P.M. Stations of the Cross

7:30 P.M. Good Friday Service with music


EASTER VIGIL SATURDAY, March 31 (with incense)

AT 7:30 P.M. Bring bells to ring during the service


EASTER DAY SUNDAY, April 1, 8:00 A.M. AND 10:30 A.M. (with incense at both services)

Flowering of the Cross at both services–bring flowers from  home or use those provided

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Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Service Schedule

Fourth Sunday in Advent, December 24 — One combined service at 10:00 a.m.**

Christmas Eve, December 24 —

5:00 p.m. Family Service with Children’s Sermon, Holy Eucharist Rite II, with the Cherubs**

7:30 p.m.  Holy Eucharist, Rite II, with incense**

10:30 p.m. Carol Sing**

11:00 p.m. Festive Holy Eucharist, Rite II, with incense**


Christmas Day, December 25 — One Service, 10:00 a.m.**

**No nursery available Christmas Eve or Christmas Day so that our nursery volunteers may attend church with their families. Children of all ages are always welcome in church.

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Text of Sermon, Proper 15, Year A, Reverend Liz Hendrick

Several people have requested a copy of this sermon, so it has been made available here.

Sermon Text, Proper 15, Year A
August 20, 2017
Isaiah 56:1, 6-8; Psalm 67; Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28

Note: A recording of this sermon can be found here. (Scroll down to Sermon Audio on that page).

Last week, I was away at a conference for chaplains. The group was made up of several Christian denominations, as well as one Imam. For the first two days, folks in the group wanted to be able to pray in the style they were used to, but were afraid of offending the Imam. Sentences would start, with all due respect to our Muslim brother, I think Jesus would want us to…”

Finally, after one afternoon break, we returned to the room to find the Imam standing next to the moderator. He told us how much he appreciated our trying to be sensitive. Then he said this, “Let me share with you a little about Islam. You honor God, we do too. You honor Jesus, we do too. You honor Mary his mother, we do too. You believe Jesus was born of a virgin by the power of God’s spirit; we do too. You believe that Jesus will return at the end of time, we do too. You believe in heaven, we do too. You believe in hell, we do too. Between Christianity and Islam, there are many more areas where we are alike than where we are different. Please pray in the way to which you are accustomed”. It was a generous speech from a man whose faith group has been targeted, along with Jews, by various hate groups.

We have a long history in this country of marginalizing those we see as other – not just today, and not just during WWII or the civil rights era, but dating back to at least the 1700’s.

• In 1785, to Catholics proposing to build St. Peter’s church in the heart of Manhattan, there was such an outcry that city officials, fearing the papacy, forced the Catholics to relocate outside the city. Twenty years later, on Christmas Eve, protesters gathered outside the church, outraged, and scared by the mysterious services than went on inside, rioted, injuring many and killing one police officer. The mysterious services? What we would call today the High Mass of Christmas Eve.
• In 1845, Americans were fearful of all the Catholic Irish arriving in the US, refugees from the Great Hunger due to destruction of their potato crop. These Irish were desperate for food and so would take any job. The prejudice became so strong that job ads on signs and in the newspaper stated, No Irish need apply.
• By the end of the 19th century, suspicion had moved to the Italians, with their persecution being seen by President Teddy Roosevelt as “rather a good thing”.

We can go further back in history – all the way to the bible. In the time of Jesus, Jews saw themselves as God’s chosen; everyone else were pagans. Without converting to Judaism, the pagans were outside of God’s grace. You could not associate with them; could not eat with them; could not cross the threshold into their homes. Given the time in which Jesus lived, his ignoring the pleas of the Canaanite woman would have been appropriate and his initial response to her persistence, harsh as it was, would have been acceptable by those around him. Remember, his disciples wanted Jesus to tell her to shut up and go away.

This is a hard story. Hard for a woman, brought up in a region known today as Lebanon, to approach and ask anything of a Jew – a race she was brought up to despise. Hard for Jesus to even see this person – a woman and a foreigner. And hard for us to see Jesus acting in a way that is, frankly, uncharacteristic of Jesus. But the woman is desperate to receive healing for her child – what parent here does not know of her anxiety? She does not take Jesus’ initial silence as a final answer – she continues to call out. And when he rudely dismisses her, she counters with a show of faith that commands his attention, broadens his understanding of his mission, and moves him to action. It is a life changing moment – for Jesus, for the woman and her daughter, and for us. It is possible that in this encounter, Jesus understands his mission to be more than he realized. He came not just for the house of Israel, but for us all.

After the death and resurrection of Jesus, as the faith of Christianity moved out of Jerusalem and spread across the known world, Gentiles new to the faith would start to see themselves as “chosen” and would look with contempt on the Jewish members of their communities. It is to address the treatment of their Jewish members by Gentile Christians that Paul is writing in his letter to the church in Rome. And contrary to the hold many have on God’s plan of salvation being uniquely for Christians, Paul states that God has not rejected the people of Israel, for, in the words of Paul, the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Paul is not talking about a remnant but the gathering by God of all Israel.

In the irony and mystery of God, Jews believing they are uniquely chosen find God’s mercy goes beyond them to include those they would consider as “other”. Gentile Christians in Rome, believing they are now the inheritors of God’s favor, hear Paul say that in God’s plan, all Israel shall be saved. And if you go all the way back to the writing of Isaiah in the 6th century before Christ, God’s plan to draw the circle wider began long before Jesus. Listen to the words of Isaiah: “And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants…these I will bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer…for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples”.

So, what’s going on here? It seems like God may have a plan for salvation for humanity that is – well – in a word – inclusive. Jesus’ view was changed by the deep faith of a woman who refused to be silent; who refused to be relegated to the shadows. The church in Rome realized that God did not choose Gentile over Jew, but used Israel to open salvation to the Gentiles so that all the world could be drawn into his love. It seems that the common denominator is not being Jewish, nor being Christian, nor being Muslim. The common denominator is FAITH.
It is people who draw lines of separation: Irish, or Catholics, or Italians, or blacks, Latinos, or Syrians or any one of several groups today. And it is God – consistently – over the ages – suggesting that our view is too narrow – that the wideness of God’s embrace can take us all in. As the Imam said, there are many more areas where we are alike than different.

I hope we can find room in our hearts to believe this. But it is not enough to believe – we need to speak. Note that Jesus was silent to the woman’s first plea. But she did not remain silent – the stakes were too high. They are for us as well. If we do not stand up for the right of all people to worship God in their own way in peace, we risk someday finding our own practices at risk for persecution. Remember, it was only a little over 230 years ago that the Catholic faith was under attack in this country.

Think of it this way – the eclipse is tomorrow – how many are planning to try and watch – either from here or by making the journey to go north? And you will be wearing special glasses, right – to protect your eyes, because you can sustain serious eye damage if you try and look directly at the sun without them. Think of our mission as requiring spiritual glasses, tinted with the grace of God’s love, with which we are to see the world. Without them, we risk judging those who are different from us. But with these glasses, we see in each person the spirit of grace common to us all. AMEN.

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