Reading Camp

Reading Camp
In order to fully staff the camp we are in need of a few more teachers, support staff and youth counselors.
Teachers– Two are assigned to each morning learning center. The time commitment is 8:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. This commitment includes teaching in a center, eating breakfast and lunch and one morning snack break with the campers plus attending an occasional teachers’ meeting. Teachers do not need to be currently certified and do not have to be professional educators.

 Support staff– Duties may include preparing breakfast lunch, and snacks, taking photos, sitting with an unhappy camper, reading to campers, and a multitude of other fun activities.

Counselors– Counselors traditionally arrive at 11:00 AM, eat lunch with the campers, supervise afternoon camper activities in tandem with the special events coordinators and special guests. Counselors should be 15 years old or more. The day ends at 4:30 PM when all the campers have been picked up.

Campers– The camp is full as of 5/22.

Safeguarding God’s Children is required for those working with campers. Training times to be announced.

For more information contact Gini Peterson at 777-879-0321 or

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St. Matthew’s Preschool Silent Auction

preschool_logoOur annual Silent Auction is coming up on April 15th. We are hoping to raise $5,000 for the Preschool and Kindergarten. Money raised will be used to provide scholarships to needy families, to purchase materials and curriculum for the classrooms, and to upgrade school technology. Fundraising is vital to our program; with your help we know it can be our most successful Silent Auction yet.

During this time of year, we ask of families who own a business or know of someone who owns a business if they would be willing to donate products or services to the Silent Auction. All businesses who participate will be able to send flyers home to Preschool families advertising your business.

We are hoping we can count on your support of our Silent Auction this year. Your donation is tax deductible (EIN # 58-1741175). Any prizes, gift certificates, tickets or merchandise may be sent directly to the preschool to be received by April 10th. You may also contact Jennifer at 770-978-1323 or to have it picked up. Please mail items to:

St. Matthew’s Preschool
Att: Jennifer Schriver
1520 Oak Rd.
Snellville, GA 30078

If there is an expiration date on your donation, please take into consideration that prizes will not be claimed until at least April 24th.

We would like to thank you in advance for your support!

Jennifer Schriver                      Jeanne McLarty

Director                                     Asst. Director

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Hiking Group Outing Planned For April 11

Hiking Club Photo 2015April is the traditional starting month for those hearty souls from around the world who are attempting to hike the entire Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mt Katahdin, Maine. On Saturday, April 11 the St Matt’s hiking group will walk along the trail handing out snacks to these “thru hikers.” Known as “trail magic” our little gifts serve to lift the spirits of these folks and are always much appreciated. While the “AT” can be fairly steep in spots, we will take our time and not go too far.

We will gather at the church parking lot at 7:30 a.m. and form a little caravan. We will then drive about 1-1/2 hours to Tesnatee Gap, hike a bit, break to eat a bag lunch, hike back to the cars and then drive home, arriving at the church around by 5pm.

This will be a fun day for you and your family in a beautiful part of North Georgia and can be considered a quiet form of evangelism – “feeding the hungry” so please consider joining us. Just let Ted Sokal know if you have any questions and/or would like to join the group.

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Annual FODAC Run, Walk ‘n Roll May 2

FODAC_logoA team from St. Matthew’s will once again participate in the annual fundraiser for Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC). The two-mile walk will take place on Saturday morning, May 2 in Stone Mountain Park. This is a great opportunity for you, your friends and family to enjoy a pleasant walk while doing some good.

FODAC is a Christian ministry that was founded in Stone Mountain to refurbish and donate durable medical goods to disabled needy people in our community. Since its inception in 1986, FODAC has given away over 29,000 “like new” wheelchairs as well as thousands of hospital beds, walkers and other items. In fact, the wheelchair that parishioners can use in our church was a gift from FODAC! If you have a piece of medical equipment that you no longer need, or just wish to learn more about this ministry, visit

Please consider joining us in this fundraising effort. If you are unable to attend, please support our team with gifts of treasure or prayers. Team members should be available to take your donation after each service in April. To join the team or ask questions, please contact Ted Sokal.


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Annual Parish Work Day — What A Day!

by Jay Jones

Work Day1 2015Over 70 parishioners gathered March 28 for St. Matthew’s annual parish work day to clean up, replace and clear out the church campus leading into Holy Week and Easter celebrations.

The event was organized by the Building and Grounds Committee to do some spring cleaning  and maintenance work across the campus. Many people helped clear out the flower beds and courtyard gardens to plant new Spring flowers and lay down new pine straw.

Inside, volunteers washed and scrubbed and cleaned all areas of the church. Heavier work involved replacing some of the tile in the hallway between the parish hall and church office, moving the sanctuary’s sound system from behind the altar to a closet in the narthex and replacing toilets in the Education wing with more water-efficient models.

The Brotherhood of St. Andrew’s provided lunch for everyone for the work day.

One parishioner noted that the work day helped build the church in more ways than one by improving the physical state of the church campus and providing the opportunity for members to get to know each other better through fellowship.

Recalling the words to Hymn 586 in the Hymnal: “Every task, however simple, sets the soul that does it free; every deed of human kindness done in love is done to thee….”

Work Day2 2015
Work Day3 2015


And from Todd Camden, Vestry Liaison
What a great day!

The landscaping/clean up work on the grounds made a dramatic difference.  There were at least a hundred bails of pine straw spread in all of the beds around all of the new plants that were planted.   Everything that needed got a trim, and how great does it look around our road sign!  Our updated curb appeal will definitely impress our many visitors this Easter week, and enrich everyone’s Holy week experience.  Thanks to Janis for masterminding and directing this effort.

The outside pavilion was shored up and reinforced under Kenny’s direction, so now we can enjoy it for years to come.  Our picnic tables will soon be replaced as part of an Eagle scout project.  With the pavilion refurbished, and new tables I think it calls for a party to put this long neglected area to use.

Phil had the courage to spearhead our workday plumbing project-replacing the last five toilets on our list.  I lost count on how many trips to Ace/Lowe’s were made and I think we used every tool in the arsenal, but by Saturday evening the water was back on and the new toilets were working. Dominic put in an amazing effort reworking all of the toilet flange connections, I don’t think he could walk the next day.  Here’s a picture of the toilet crew taking a rest on the retired thrones at the end of the day.Work Day4 2015


The kitchen and pantry were organized and straightened up in preparation for the professional cleaners coming during the next week to scrub floors and give the whole kitchen a thorough detailed cleaning (generously paid for by a member who could not make the workday).  The library was cleaned and organized, as were several storage areas.  Bonnie headed the crew that tackled the office.  They found things in cabinets that we forgot we had (the old directories with pictures were fun) while cleaning and organizing cabinets and everything else.

Thanks to Steve McFarland who owned the sound system relocation project.  He planned, purchased materials, and stayed all day working until the system was fully functional in its new location. Brian Alexander(family friend and his child Noah attends our preschool) worked all day on the sound system as well, volunteering to help us on the first Saturday that he has had off work in months.

Altar Guild with help spruced up the sanctuary, altar and sacristy.  Pews and hymn racks were cleaned.  The cabinet doors in the education wing were adjusted, exit doors were adjusted and weather stripping replaced.  Choir room got the annual cleaning, I saw some cleaning and organizing going on in the vesting room as well. Windows were washed, broken floor tiles in the hall replaced,  and I’m sure that there is more that I am forgetting.  Thanks to Greg Andrews, Doug Mendrala, and the Brotherhood for providing lunch for everyone.  Thank you to the many shifts of nursery volunteers for making it possible for young parents to put some work in.

Extra special thanks to B&G committee:  Janis, Phil, Kenny, Dan and Bonnie,  not only for your work on Saturday, but for the countless hours spent in preparation to put on such a successful event.

The most important thing that was built Saturday is Community, and I am so very proud and thankful to be a part of ours!

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Mental Health and Wellness — Christ Walk

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk with Jesus?  There were no cars two thousand years ago.  Jesus walked throughout his ministry.  The “Christ Walk” program allows us to walk the miles of various routes in the Bible during a forty days period.  Walking is a very holy activity that almost anyone can do at any fitness level.  The benefits of walking are numerous for every age.  Some of the routes that we can explore include the Via Dolorosa (Christ’s last walk through Jerusalem), the Nazareth-Jerusalem route, Paul’s missionary journeys, the spread of Christianity from Jerusalem to Rome, and many more.   We invite you to join us on a journey of a lifetime as we study mind, body, and spiritual health with “Christ Walk:  A 40-Day Spiritual Fitness Program.”

The Christ Walk program will be offered by St. Matthew’s beginning on Saturday, April 11, as a mind, body and spiritual wellness program for the 50 days of Easter.  Individuals and teams will select various routes of the Bible and count steps or miles toward their goal.  Each week we will meet in fellowship to have a program on a different aspect of mind, body, and spiritual health.  Teams will participate in reflective exercises that will help them grow towards a Christ-centered life.  Every aspect of what we do can be lifted as an offering to God, even taking care of our bodies.  There is a “God-spark” in each of us and our bodies are the temple that God gives us to explore our gifts and talents.  Taking care of that body to do God’s work is paramount.

Christ Walk:  A 40-Day Spiritual Fitness Program by Anna Fitch Courie can be purchased at Cokesbury for about $15.  You will find daily devotional exercises, tips on exercise and health, and a Steps and Mileage Tracker.

When:  Saturdays, April 11, 18, 25, May 2, 9, from 10:30-12:30

What:  Meet at the Jung’s farm (located about 10 miles from St. Matt’s) at 10:30 for a 45 minute program.  Then enjoy walking individually or with your team on numerous routes:  (1) down a shaded road passing a goat and bird farm, (2) down to the covered bridge and back, (3) take the Hero’s Walk in the park, (4) walk around the arena in the presence of horses, (5) walk a modified labyrinth on the old school house foundation, or (6) use the concrete, level barn aisle as a track.

Who:  Anyone who would like to improve mind, body, or spirit.  Feel free to bring your dogs (on a leash, or course)

If you are interested in Christ Walk or would like more information on the program, please contact Susan Jung at 404-376-5469 or  Christ Walk is available to anyone at any fitness level.  A participant even walked her routes with her walker!  You can experience Christ Walk, too.

Peace and happy trails,

The Mental Health and Wellness Committee.


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Notes From the Senior Warden

MallardBentonRETREAT. Merriam-Webster’s first definition describes this as the “act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous or disagreeable. Other descriptors: receding (glacier), forced withdrawal (troops) and a military flag-lowering ceremony.
Your vestry was on retreat in March and the Merriam-Webster definition that could best be applied is “a period of group withdrawal, for prayer, meditation, study or instruction”. On March 7th we held the annual vestry retreat in the Youth Building of Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross. Our two main work sessions – getting to know each other better to enable us to work cohesively and productively and identifying the big ideas in St. Matthew’s future – were bracketed by prayer. We observed the Daily Office before starting, Noonday Prayer before lunch and a Celtic Compline to close the day. Of course since it’s St. Matthew’s we had a light breakfast and hearty lunch before the afternoon session. We’ll share more as vestry members liaise with committees and groups.
Speaking of committees – for those groups you’re involved with, consider a group withdrawal for getting to know each other better, for prayer and meditation as you go about your planning, Have one of your meetings in the park or at someone’s home or even in a different room at St. Matthew’s. Spend some time in your committee considering not just the nuts and bolts, but how what you do furthers the community at St. Matthew’s. Looking around your retreat or meeting room you’ll encounter many talents and gifts – how best to use them in His service? Who might you add to strengthen your mission?
Back to the vestry retreat: thank you Mtr. Liz and Sally, vestry members and vestry spouses who allowed us this time away.

Mallard W. Benton

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In the Meantime…

Mother Liz & PJThere has been a lot of talk around the declining church, and a lot of conversation about how the church needs to change in order to attract new members.  The recommended “changes” for the church usually have to do with the characteristics of the pastor (younger, more enthusiastic, effervescent, etc.) or changing the liturgy (include music that young people will sing, make the language more contemporary, make the liturgy more relaxed, etc.  The thoughtful article below suggests that there may be other characteristics associated with growing churches, as compared to declining ones.  The Reverend David Lose became the president of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia on Sept. 1, 2014. Before that, he held the Marbury E. Anderson Chair in Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary, where he also served as the Director of the Center for Biblical Preaching.  If you like what you read here, check out his blog at:

Note – this has been reprinted with permission from Rev. Lose.

Easter Blessings, Liz+

Is The Church Really in Decline? (Pt. 1)

Posted: 12 Mar 2015 10:52 AM PDT

Is the church really in decline? I think that depends on how you define “church.”

Look, I know that there’s been a lot of ink spilled about the decline of the church in North America. (And I no longer have to modify “church” with “mainline” anymore, as it is indeed the whole church – from liberal to conservative, Roman Catholic to Protestant, evangelical to mainline – that is now in decline.) And I know that the numbers occasioning this spilled ink are pretty much incontrovertible.

But here’s the thing (actually two things, the first today and the second next week):

Let’s be clear that when we’re talking about church decline that we’re talking about the Church in North America and Europe. That, I believe, is critical to remember. In Latin America, in Asia, and in Africa, the Christian Church is growing, more so than any other religion, including Islam. (For more on this, see Philip Jenkins’ The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity  [2002; 3rd edition, 2011].)

Njimtoh-baptism-service-for-student-016-e1426182743766-300x192This grown has been so significant, in fact, that after centuries of the European and North American churches sending missionaries to distant countries (including my grandparents, who spent twenty-five years in India), we in the U.S. are now often therecipients of missionaries from these countries. The Gospel, in other words, not only took hold in these lands, but too off.

So why are the churches in these countries growing and not so much in North America and Europe? While there may be a variety of reasons, I would hazard that one of the dominant ones is the incredible affluence enjoyed in Europe and North America.

Affluence, you see, tends to provide a pretty strong buffer between you and death. I should probably clarify. By talking about “death,” I don’t mean merely concerns about the afterlife – goodness, but I hope faith is good for more than simply a ticket to heaven! – but rather I mean “death” in the sense of our inescapable mortality. That is, affluence can insulate us from admitting our own vulnerability, our own humanity, even, and certainly our own need. For if religion does nothing else, it reminds you of, and helps you to cope with, your mortality. “From dust you came,” we say to each other on Ash Wednesday, “and to dust you will return.” A reality as unpleasant as it is unavoidable that we nevertheless regularly hide from via our possessions and wealth.

Affluence also tends to give us a sense of control, even mastery, over our environment and to appreciate, and perhaps at times to exaggerate, our abilities. Affluence, after all, has led to great progress, and progress in turn has promoted greater affluence. In such an environment, the language of sin can feel outmoded, even offensive. Rather than serving as a truthful description of brokenness and as an essential admission of our failing that we might seek forgiveness, reconciliation, and reparation, sin instead comes across like a mark of failure. To admit sin seems to betray the belief in ceaseless progress that rests near the center of affluent cultures. Sin risks puncturing the “every day better and better in every way” mantra of the affluenc West. (Moreover, we in the church have not always helped matters with regard to our talk. Sin, keep in mind, literally means “missing the mark,” a true description of how we fall short of God’s desires and designs for abundant life. It was originally meant to be equated with truth, not with shame, I believe, but we have let it become so and as a consequence the affluent society in which we live has little room for such talk.)

Finally, affluence creates a crisis of choice. As Barry Schwartz talked about in his TED Talk featured here yesterday, the unbelievable choice available to members of an affluent society can be rather overwhelming and make almost all options seems less attractive. Sunday mornings are a market place of competing possibilities for our time, attention, and energy. Why go to church, more and more wonder, when there are so many other things to do that might benefit us more?

Now think, for a moment, of the disparity between this picture of abundance and the economic landscapes of the countries where Christianity is not just flourishing but growing. These are places where mortality is far more present, where “sin” helpfully explains some of the conditions in which people find themselves as well as some of their own behaviors, and where the absence of choice makes the community, fellowship, and encouragement of the faith attractive. Little wonder, then, that the church is growing there as it once did in a less sheltered, less buffered United States. There is much we might learn from the growing church around the globe, I suspect, if only we paid attention rather than focus on our own decline.

Well, I’m sure there are many other reasons the church in this land is struggling while it is flourishing abroad, and I’d be glad to hear your thoughts and opinions in the comments below. But for now, when thinking of a declining church, I find it helpful to remember that God’s church is bigger than the denominations and lands I survey and that, on the whole, there have never been more Christians. God’s Word will continue to go out and it will not come back void.

All of which reminds me of one of Luther’s explanations in the Small Catechism. Commenting on the petition in the Lord’s prayer, “Your kingdom come,” Luther reminds us that “God’s kingdom comes of its own whether we pray for it or not. In this prayer we ask that it would come also to us.”

Amen. Come Lord Jesus…even unto us.

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