On Monday, October 30, 2023, the outreach committee served dinner for clients of the Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry. The Co-op is experiencing an increased need for services, and the dinners we serve are a welcome gift to families experiencing food insecurity. Volunteers prepared beanie weenies, cole slaw, rolls and cookies, and packaged them to share with Co-op clients. At the Co-op, volunteers served more than 240 dinners from 4-6 p.m. Thank you to everyone who offered their time, talents and treasure to share God’s Love with the community!
Check out the photos from our great parish workday! About 30-35 people:
- washed windows
- cleaned out cabinets and closets
- cleaned the kitchen and appliances
- pressure-washed the courtyard
- weeded, hauled and spread mulch in the gardens
- set up a Little Free Library Extension in the main hallway – come visit!
Thanks to all who gave their time and talents to help keep our parish campus clean and beautiful. Stewardship in action! (It’s the People!)
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by Terri Hurst, Stewardship Chair
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I was born in Covington, Kentucky in 1949. I was raised by a single mother with very little formal education, but she taught me the importance of hard work and good character. She always encouraged me in school to do better than my best. Growing up in Covington, I was destined to work in the local factories or go to jail. I chose a path far outside my realm of reality. I decided to go to college. I started college prep courses in my freshman year of high school. I also felt that basketball would be my golden ticket. I wasn’t a great player, just a good one. Good enough to draw the attention of Leon Ford, the coach at the University of Chattanooga. He gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. He set me on a path that I will always be eternally grateful for.
Coming to Chattanooga was indeed challenging, I was a young African American male going to a college whose student body consisted of less than 2% African Americans. I was to be the first African American on an athletic scholarship. As monumental a task as this appears, I was more concerned with molding into the team and being an asset to the organization. Our nation was undergoing a social revolution which made life very challenging. I was able to surround myself with a fantastic family of athletes and supporters that made those challenges insignificant. I was able to focus on what was important.
I wouldn’t know where to start in thanking the many people who guided me along this journey. During a period when getting drafted was forever looming in the shadows, I chose to join the college’s ROTC program because it offered me the opportunity to lead men, rather than to follow. Another organization which acted as a compass in keeping me pointed in the right direction was the Fellowship of Christen Athletes. It was this group that gave me strength and hope during the dark periods of my college life. It was the men of this group that taught me the joy and love of Christ’s salvation. During my junior and senior year, I was part of a service organization, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. This organization strengthened my community service involvement. Being connected to these great organizations was secondary to why I was at Chattanooga. I was there to get an education and to play basketball. I accomplished both. I played varsity the four years that I attended and was recognized as one of the leaders during that period. I completed my degree and was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the U. S. Army upon graduation.
My military career took me around the world. I served in Korea, Germany and the U. S. I served with some great soldiers during my 20 years career. I commanded, supported and taught troops from basic training to college ROTC programs. My greatest joy was being a company commander of an armor unit. The power of the equipment, the skill, the quality of the soldiers and having the knowledge that they would go into combat with me were something that most people will never understand.
Throughout my life, the one factor which has been constant is my ability to adapt to a new or changing environment. Making the jump from military to civilian life was no different. Military training and leadership experiences made me more than ready to handle most civilian job opportunities. For all the blessings I received, I knew that it was also time to give back to the community. Prior to joining St Matthews, I was a Cub Scout pack leader. As an active member of St Matthew’s Episcopal Church, I have filled many roles. I served on the Vestry with Father Doug; I was involved in both Reading Camp and Vacation Bible School. I am the President of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, I currently serving on the Outreach and Worship Committees. I am also on the St. Matthew’s Preschool Board. I am the head verger and scheduler for the LEMs, Ushers and Readers. I take what I do as a sign of God’s blessings. Some day I know that I will have to slow down, but till then I will continue to serve in whatever ministry I can. In summation, I have lived a simple life, called by God, filled with wonderful people who have touched my soul and have allowed me to touch theirs.
May you too be called by God to fulfill a ministry and share your time, talents and treasures.
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Good morning, The Lord be with you!
For those of you who do not know me, my Name is Oscar De Leon. I have been a parishioner at Saint Mathew’s for about 15 years.
Saint Matthew’s is the only church, and religion for that matter, that I felt like I belong.
I am 58 years old, and for most of my life I was searching for a place where God’s message was one of love, belonging and compassion instead of condemnation and eternal suffering.
I would like to talk to you today about giving… but giving because you are able to balance your life experiences and, in your thankfulness, you balance your giving of treasure, time and talent.
Like many of you, I have had good times, actually, great times! and bad times, I have had moments of sheer desperation not knowing where the next payment for my rent would come from.
I am not proud to admit that I have never been a good administrator of my finances. You see I lived in New Your city during the AIDS pandemic. I would go to several funerals in one week, so I never though I was going to live long… so, every fun activity, concert, dinner, trip, show, record, movie, collectibles, gift I wanted to make, they all had precedent over my responsibilities.
And so, my life was never in order when it came to my finances.
I met great people along the way, that I know God put in my path to teach me about abundance and the promise that he would be watching over me throughout my journey.
As I look back, I realized that the basic needs I needed to thrive were always met. I never went hungry, I was never homeless, I was clothed… even looking back as when I was in High School, all my father was able to provide for the school semester was 2 pants and 3 shirts…
That still was more that many other had.
Through the years I saw abundance like nothing I could ever dream of…
I also did not know how to handle it…
At one point I thought I bought a house in Puerto Rico. It was always my dream to have a house to go back to, something that was mine… and it was my cousin who was selling it…. So, I gave him the 20K…and he kept the house… or my friend from college that borrowed 40K (from my 401K) … and never paid me back.
Lost a cousin and a friend… and 60K!
Lessons learned… expensive lessons, but all along I was missing what was really happening… I was also providing time and support to friends and family members; I was learning about what really mattered. I was learning that money was not all.
I was learning how, in the middle of that desperation when someone you trust betrays you…. God does not… God did not.
Every time I looked back, my basic needs were met… my journey was enriched with the lessons to share and most importantly with multiple ways to give back.
As part of Saint Matthew’s, I learned about the importance and necessity of sharing with God’s community your treasures, your time, and your talents. I was not very clear about how these three gifts are always revolving and balancing themselves. I started to share of my treasures, and many times it was a struggle but it was always fair. I was not understanding that in my time and talents I was also giving, contributing.
Today the percentage I give, I balanced with my contribution to causes that are in my everyday life, to ways God is guiding me to share his glory. And I have been, multiple times, a recipient of his great mercy and glory.
I would like to share with you what happened to me about six years ago.
I had retired after 26 years of service and…and within 4 years,
I had exhausted all my retiring funds…
I had lost a lot of money, as you I told you before.
I was baking cakes and doing catering to make ends meet, I was unemployed.
One of those desperate days, I received an email from a company that was offering me $400 per week to have my car wrapped with and advertising banner.
The offer seemed legit.
I filled out a questionnaire, send in my application and they accept it!!! I was so happy. $400 for driving around seemed like a no brainer.
They let me know that they will FedEx a check to my house so I can pay the company that will wrap my car.
The check came.
a real check,
over 3 thousand dollars.
The instructions were clear. “Call us a soon as you receive this check”.
The gentleman explained that they will pay me the first 3 weeks of advertisement but that I had to pay the company that was doing the wrapping…
He insisted that I would deposit the check in my checking account, go the next day and retrieve the money for the company that was doing the wrapping and keep the $1200.00 that were mine.
Oh, what a joy!!!
To make this more special, the next day was Ash Wednesday.
My dear friend Cindy Bateman, called and ask if I was going to Ash Wednesday service, I said, joyous! YES!
She asked if I wanted to go to lunch with her after the service. I said yes but, “we need to be close to my bank, because I had to do a very important transaction”; and she agreed.
We went to a restaurant close to my bank… and as God planned it, I could not contain my excitement so I share with Cindy my new exiting found venture as a walking advertiser…
As I am explaining the details of this opportunity to Cindy, she seemed more interested on her cell phone than on what I was saying until I started to notice her face changing shapes and suddenly looking at me with that “Oh you poor thing, bless you heart” kind of look.
She simply showed me the phone.
Every step I had gone through was written there…
One of the latest scams… people will get the money out of their account and deposit it to the supposed wrapping company’s account. By the time the check bounced… you were already wrapped in an over drawn account that you were responsible for… I cried!!!!
Since then, I was blessed, to find a new path… got the opportunity to become a medical interpreter and now I do the best job I have ever had. And while my time is not as free as it once was, I do not struggle much to share my treasures.
The Lord works in mysterious ways; I am proof. Listen, pay attention to the lessons. Be thankful and with joy balance your gifts, your treasure, time, and talent.
God bless you.
Oscar De Leon
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St. Matthew’s hosted over 50 people and a menagerie of 29 dogs, 5 cats, 1 lizard, 1 python snake, several stuffies, and photos of pets who could not attend in-“person”. The undercroft courtyard provided plenty of green space and safe space for such a wild group.
Father Tim, in his specially-designed stole, personally and divinely prayed over the individual animals. The non-human guests of honor were served treats which were meticulously prepared with love, and even the snake and lizard had a few veggies, also prepared with the utmost care. Humans from church and humans from the community chatted and laughed at the animal antics, all under the watchful eye of St. Francis, our patron saint of animals.
With blessings, love, and treats all around, the St. Matthew’s Blessing of the Animals was an event that reminded us of the quirky and wonderful creatures we share our lives with.
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(Dressed as a pirate with cloak and pirate hat)
Did someone say there was a search for an Abundance of Time, Talent, and TREASURE here at St. Matthews???? Argh!
For those who do not know me by now, I am Trisha Voiles, Senior Warden of St. Matthew’s. I began coming with our family to St. Matthew’s in 1984, 39 years ago. I was a senior at Brookwood, and my parents were the ones in the family in charge of the giving of the Treasures. I volunteered with VBS.
After a year, I moved out, went to college, faded away from going to church regularly, and got married. Treasure was definitely NOT in abundance in those years. I remember counting pocket change to just get gas to get to Snellville to my teaching job. I got involved with our ECW, Episcopal Church Women, and got hooked giving much of my Time and Talent. Although it wasn’t a great abundance at first, the more I was able to give the better I began to feel about myself, and the abundance of Love from God as He sent it through the Love of our Church members. I began getting involved in VBS, Christian Formation classes, and helped with breakfast between services. I was Sunday School Superintendent and Youth Group Parent Team for a few years. I was ECW President for almost 20 years. Now, I have Vestry and Senior Warden. My children were involved in Christian Formation, youth choir, VBS, Acolytes, Youth Group, Talent Show, and were my shadows for many years, especially after my divorce. We did not have an abundance to give in treasures, but we gave what we could every year. I increased my percentage of giving each year, even if the increase was just a few extra dollars at first. I circle where I am on the proportional giving chart and see if I can make a jump to the next step or two.
Now for today, although Jim and I have had two bittersweet losses in recent years, God has blessed us abundantly. We are able to help where we can with Time, Talent, and Treasure now. The treasure may not be the overflowing abundance, but it has increased from the long ago days counting the coins. If you are just starting out or are in a place of less than treasure-ly abundance, I would like you to prayerfully consider what you do have to give. Consider helping in a new ministry you have been thinking about, if you have been in a ministry for a while, consider taking on a leadership role in that ministry. Encourage your family members to get involved in ministries. Even if you can only give $1, 5, 10, 20, or just two coins a week, you can add that on the pledge card in the envelope. Only our treasurer and financial secretary see any of the giving cards. These are between you and God, a promise that you can help in any way you can. On the front of the card you can list your treasure. On back of the card, list areas you do– or would like to– spend some Time and Talent. I wrote my name on the Ministry card, checked my ministries, and added that in my envelope. If you’re filling out the card for your family, you can put the initials of each family member also by the areas of their involvement. You can return the envelope in the mail, on one Sunday in October in the offering plate or bring it up to the basket on the altar, or put it in the slot in the office door. We would like to have them by Sunday, Nov. 5th.
Right now, I would like to call on my crew, Fr. Tim, The Vestry and Finance Committee, to join me in Surrendering our Stewardship Envelopes. We have all been blessed with our Abundance of Areas we can help serve St. Matthews. We cannot do our jobs without YOU! We would like to encourage you to prayerfully listen to where God is leading you to put your Time, Talent, and Treasures in order to help St. Matthews share our abundance of Love with each other and the community. I promise you, YOU won’t regret the abundance given in return! Thank you! Trisha
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Using crafts in Sunday school can be an effective way to teach Bible stories to young parishioners for several reasons:
- ENGAGING! When kids create, they are more likely to pay attention and remember the lesson.
- INSPIRES CREATIVITY! Children express their creativity while learning about Bible stories. They can personalize their crafts, which can make the lesson more meaningful to them.
- STARTS the CONVERSATION! Teachers can facilitate discussions while crafting, encouraging children to ask questions and share their thoughts. This promotes a deeper understanding of the lesson.
- INCLUSIVE! Crafts accommodate different learning styles and abilities, providing an inclusive teaching method for all children, including those with special needs.
- FUN for ALL! Children often associate crafts with fun and enjoyment. When Sunday school is enjoyable, children are more likely to want to attend and continue learning about the Bible.
Are you INTERESTED in BECOMING A SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER?
Being a Sunday school teacher is a critical ministry within a church community. It is a ministry of love and dedication. It can be incredibly rewarding to witness the spiritual growth of young parishioners and to be part of their faith journey. Sunday school teachers play a significant role in shaping the faith and values of the next generation.
At St. Matt’s, being a Sunday School teacher is not a full-time commitment! Rotating schedules and having the option to serve as a helper allows for a diverse group of volunteers with varying levels of experience and availability to contribute.
A Note about Planning: Not having to plan lessons can be a relief for some volunteers who may feel more comfortable assisting with established curriculum. However, those who are interested in creating lesson plans should also be encouraged to do so, as it can be a fulfilling aspect of teaching.
Interested in becoming a Helper? Please contact Mona Livermont or Cheryl Wheeler