An Invitation to Ministry at St Matthew's

An Invitation to Ministry at St Matthew's


Presented to the Board of Trustees at their retreat on Sunday, January 10, 2016
by the Rev. Lucretia Jevne

 

A chief purpose of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California is to welcome, equip, teach and train all of our members for ministry in the service of God's mission.

What is God's mission? In Luke 4 Jesus, in the Synagogue in Nazareth, articulates that mission when he says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and to let the oppressed go free.” He further articulates his mission towards the end of Matthew's Gospel in chapter 25 when he says, when talking about the last judgment, “in as much as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me.”

Jesus spent most of his ministry with people who were on the margins of society. It was there that he found a welcome and a genuine response to his ministry. Brother David Vryhof, of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, puts it another way, “Jesus ignores the boundaries imposed by acceptable religious and social practice, and openly disregards man-made laws and regulations in order to show compassion. He consistently lets sinners and outcasts know that they are wanted and loved by God, even if they are despised by everyone else. “

St. Matthew's is in a unique position among our congregations to continue to carry out Jesus' mission and ministry to those on the margins of our society; those who are hungry, lonely, lost or who might not be fully welcome in other congregations.

St. Matthew's sits on a substantial piece of property with two parking lots and several buildings, some of which are in better shape than others, with good freeway access. In its heyday, St. Matthew's helped establish the congregations of St. Michael's and St. George's in Carmichael, St. Francis; in Fair Oaks and St. Andrew's in Antelope.

The neighborhood around St. Matthew's was originally a prosperous one, but over the last decades, it has declined economically. The neighborhood is now a place where immigrants from many different countries have found a place to live, as well as other people with low incomes. It has become one of the, if the not the, most ethnically, culturally and internationally diverse neighborhoods in our diocese.

These are the people St. Matthew's has been serving with its ministry center by providing food, clothing and a health center (feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick). Currently these programs are on hold until a discernment process around the mission and ministry of both the church and ministry center can take place.

This church can offer other congregations a unique opportunity to serve the least, last, lonely and needy where they live. This has already been happening in several different ways, especially in conjunction with the congregation of St. Michael's in Carmichael. Recently three people from St. Brigid's, Rio Vista helped at one of the community dinners that St. Matthew's sponsors for the neighborhood. They returned to their congregation jazzed about this unique opportunity to serve. One of them even volunteers to play occasionally for the worship services.

We can see the ministry and mission of St. Matthew's moving in two directions: outward to the neighborhood and as a provider of a place, where others can come to live out their commitment to serve God's mission by serving others. Just as Jesus can too live among us, so he calls us out into our world to seek him, by seeking out his brothers and sisters.

This campus has the potential to become a learning site as well as a place to exercise our own calls to ministry. Unfortunately, the actual congregation is very small and cannot, by itself, sustain the level of ministry that is both needed and possible in and with their neighborhood.

It would be tragic for us, as a diocese, to lose this potential opportunity to build up an effective ministry center, that could serve as a model and learning center for other congregations, as well as a place to exercise an incredible variety of ministries.

By making this project a priority for the Board of Trustees and other diocesan entities, we would be committing to fulfilling the mission of God and God's church to serve those whom Christ himself seeks out. We would be building up the St. Matthew's community and contributing to the health and vitality of those partnering with St. Matthew's in this Christ centered work and mission.

Respectfully submitted,
The Rev. Lucretia Jevne


 

2 comments (Add your own)

1. wrote:
Hooray, Lucretia and Board of Trustees for seeing the potential at St. Matthews. It is a church for and of the neighborhood, a sign of God's love and hope for all people.
By the way, when I was rector there I was told that the church originally owned much of the surrounding property and sold it to become much-needed low income housing. So it wasn't just a twist of fate that drew the marginalized to the neighborhood. It was meant to be.

Wed, May 18, 2016 @ 3:36 PM

2. Mary Anderson wrote:
I donate grocery sacks and money to the St. Matthew's Food and Clothes closet. I hope the church is resurrected to fill the spiritual needs of the surrounding community.

Mon, June 6, 2016 @ 7:15 AM

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