A New Sexton For St. Matthew’s…

Andrew Meredith PhotoThere will be a new face around the campus starting November 1.  Andrew Meredith comes on board as our part-time Sexton, taking over the janitorial duties as well as general building and grounds maintenance.  Your Buildings and Grounds committee went through an extensive search process to find the right candidate and we are excited to add him to our staff.
Andrew previously held a similar position at another church and lives very close by.  His primary employment is as an EMT, and usually fulfills his forty hour commitment to them the first three days of the week. This will give him plenty of time to take care of St. Matt’s. When you see Andrew around, introduce yourself and give him a warm St. Matt’s welcome.
As we welcome Andrew to St. Matt’s as our new sexton, his help keeping the building in top shape will be very welcome. It’s good to remember, however, that having a sexton will not change the responsibility we have as members to practice good stewardship of our common space. As a reminder, here are a few things we can continue to do to help maintain a clean and safe environment for everyone:
  • Never leave food or drink in any meeting space or classroom (even in the trash) when you leave. Trash cans should be emptied and trash taken to the dumpster. Replace chairs around the tables and neaten the space for the next group. Remember to turn out lights when you leave.
  • If you borrow chairs or tables from other meeting areas, or use technical equipment checked out for a meeting or event, please return them promptly to where they belong.
  • If you use the kitchen, all dishes should be washed and put away, and food items should be cleared. Please do not leave food on the counters. Date and label anything you put in the refrigerator. Unlabeled food will be thrown out regularly. Wipe counters and tables, and take all used linens, tablecloths, etc. home to wash/fold and return to the church kitchen promptly.
  • If your group uses the nursery or other SS classrooms and adjoining bathrooms on weekday afternoons or evenings, please be considerate of the preschool and put everything away where you found it, and sanitize, sweep or vacuum if necessary. These rooms are used by the preschool every weekday and have been left clean and prepared for the next day’s classes at the end of each class day. For their own safety children should not be left unattended to play in the nursery or classrooms, or play unattended anywhere on church grounds. This includes the courtyard and playground.
  • Our church home is a busy place. Some evenings there may be as many as four or five different groups using meeting rooms and/or the sanctuary. It can be difficult to know if you should lock doors when your activity is finished. Well…when in doubt, LOCK UP! Always keep doors locked if you are in the building alone or with a small group. If you are the last person to leave the church building, please check all doors to be sure they are closed tightly and locked securely.
  • Please notify the parish office of things like light bulbs that need replacing, toilets that are malfunctioning, or other housekeeping/maintenance issues that might need immediate attention. You can call the parish office at 770-979-4210 or email stmatts@bellsouth.net. Andrew will be notified of the issue so it can be handled promptly.
If you have any questions about any of the above, please contact the church office. Together we can maintain a comfortable, safe church home and be good stewards of what God has provided us. Thank you!

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Is Vestry For Me?

In January, we’ll be having our annual Vestry election at our Parish Meeting, and nomination forms will soon be available.
Four new members will be elected to replace Mallard Benton, Steven Donavon, Waylee George and Levi Livermont., who are rotating off.  Do you feel called to consider Vestry service but are perhaps intimidated because you’re not sure what to expect?  We asked our outgoing Vestry members to share their thoughts and experiences.
Why would I want to serve?
  •  “For me it was a way of getting more involved.  I didn’t sit on any committees and at the time this was a way to learn more about several aspects of the church.  Little did I realize that I would learn so much more with the entire Search process for our new Rector.” – Steven
  •  “I wanted the opportunity to serve our parish at the highest level.” – Waylee
 What qualifications or skills do I need?
Canon 21, Section 6 states vestry qualification as “Any confirmed communicant of the Parish in good and regular standing who is not less than 18 years of age, a regular attendant upon the services in the year preceding the election, and known by the Treasurer to have made and fulfilled a stated financial commitment for church support in the year preceding the election.”
Aside from the canonical qualification requirements above, the most important qualification is an openness to letting the Holy Spirit to work through you! The vestry is, in many respects, the spiritual leadership of the church.
  • Willingness to go outside your comfort zone and “see the church in a larger framework.  There is a component of Vestry service that is getting away from yourself.”  – Mallard
  • “I didn’t bring anything except my faith and my commitment to my pledged amounts. Those thinking they are not qualified for Vestry need to know that they are welcome to serve.  St. Matthew’s has strength in our diversity (and I am not just referring to race) of people, in ideas, and more.”  – Steven
  • “When I was elected, I didn’t really understand all the intricacies of what makes the church function.  I realized the challenges the church has, as well as the opportunities that the church brings to the community.  It takes everyone participating to really make a church work.”  — Waylee
 What is the time commitment?
Vestry members serve a three-year term.  Our monthly meetings, which last around 2 hours, are held on the second Monday of the month.  We also have an annual Vestry retreat on a Saturday during the spring.  Each vestry member serves as liaison to a specific ministry committee, and attends those meetings then reports back to the rest of the Vestry each month.  We also have a rotation for Vestry Person of the Day duties on Sundays; working in pairs, we take two months during the year.
What will I get out of it?
  • “I was surprised at the amount of spiritual growth I have experienced while on Vestry. Not so much the Bible study at the meetings, but the small daily pieces that come with being on Vestry. The chances to help shepherd others in their own spiritual journeys.” – Steven
  •  “The best part was being part of the team that called our new Rector.  Vestry is a ministry.  We put in motion God’s work.  That fills us up spiritually.”  – Waylee
  • “Every decision is made after collective thought, debate and discussion.” – Mallard
 Any words of advice?
  • “Don’t let fear hold you back if you have never served on a Vestry. This ministry for me has been very fulfilling. In Vestry, no one’s vote weighs more than another.” – Steven
  •  “Look really deeply into the questions about your vision for the future and what you can bring to the Vestry.  Reflect and prayerfully consider your answers.  Talk to people who have served and ask any specific questions you might have.”  – Mallard
Take some time.  Pray for discernment.  Talk to anyone who has served on Vestry about their own experiences.  Pray some more.  And let the Holy Spirit direct you.  Who knows?  Perhaps it will guide you onto the 2016 Vestry!
Feeling Called to Vestry Service?
Join Sr. Warden Mallard Benton in the choir loft @ 9:30 a.m. this Sunday and throughout November to have your questions answered.

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Health and Wellness

The Mental health and Wellness Committee members voted unanimously at its October meeting to change the committee’s name from “Mental Health and Wellness Committee” to “Health and Wellness Committee”. During the meeting the members agreed that the former name might be too narrow a focus and that it made sense to change the name in order to attract the more skilled parishioners (i.e. Nurses, Retired Nurses, etc.) to the group and reach more parishioners who could use the services provided by the committee.
To achieve that end, the committee decided to revise its mission statement. The new mission statement of the Health and Wellness Committee is:
 “To promote the spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical health and well-being of the parishioners at St. Matthews and the community through education, community wellness activities, and health and fitness activities for our parishioners.”
With this new focus, the committee, for example, can engage in these, but not limited to, general activities:
Identify congregational health needs and promote whole person health.
  • Provide and coordinate educational classes to enable wellness and prevent illness.
  • Provide spiritual support, health screening, and referrals for members of the congregation as needed.
 This committee is intended to function as a regular standing committee of the congregation, meeting monthly to fulfill its responsibilities and functions. If any parishioner feels his or her calling to ministry is in the area of medicine, nursing, counseling, social work, education, social ministry, church board, youth, elderly, outreach ministries, etc., our committee will be glad to welcome you.  The primary membership qualification is only based on your interest in holistic health matters for the individual, congregation, and community.
There will be a Health and Wellness committee meeting on Monday, November 2, at 7:00 p.m. For more information, please contact Flora Cox or any of the committee members.

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Because You Asked…”The Story of Bartimaeus”

The following is part of Mother Liz’ sermon on Sunday, October 25. Several people have asked for us to reprint the story. The audio of her sermon can be found here.
Mother Liz & PJ

Mark 10:46-52: The Story of Bartimaeus
He huddles at the edge of the road near the city gates. He has been there for awhile and, as other squatters have left, he has been able to inch his way closer to the gates so that now he is one of the first of the poor that the crowds will pass. For he has learned that location matters; people leaving the city after a day of shopping are more generous with the first people they encounter at the edge of the road. But there are so many poor that wait, their eyes pleading for generosity, that after awhile, those who were so liberal at the beginning get tired of dropping coins and start to walk rapidly past, with their eyes averted or in forced deep conversation with their traveling companions. And he has done better since he moved closer to the gate.
            It is a morning in spring and there is still dampness in the air. The cloak he found when he was scavenging near the dump has kept him warm through the winter months. And it is drawn tightly around him as the sun peeks over the horizon. He tells time by sound. For he has learned there is a sound to morning and a sound to night. And he can hear the stirring of others around him as they slowly awake, dragging out their battered coin containers. It’s not a regular market day, so he is not expecting too many coins. He decides to stay wrapped in the cloak a little longer. Soon, he will spread the cloak on the ground, taking care to smooth out wrinkles and folds so that he will not miss the feel of the coins when they drop. For even in their lightness, he can feel it when they land on the cloak. It was much harder before, when he tried to hear where the coin landed on the ground. For the ground is rough and uneven and often, the coin would roll without further sound and he was never able to find it. And he is sure that there were many coins meant for him that were pilfered by one of his neighbors. With the cloak, he now has clear boundaries for his territory and there can be no mistake that when a coin lands on the cloak, it is for him.
            The stirring of the people around him indicate that there must be a group exiting the city. And kneeling, he scrambles to lay out the cloak, using both hands to smooth it flat. For through the vibrations in the ground and the level of the voices, he can tell that it is a fairly large group. And he sits back on his haunches and waits for the crowd to arrive. Fleetingly, he thinks about his blindness. He is not sure where the thought has come from; it has been so long since he became blind that he rarely thinks of how life was before. He never could understand what he did to earn his affliction. At first, he really missed being able to see, but he has adjusted, and it has been such a long time. He is luckier than most; he is able to see in his mind the pictures that others describe for him.
            And there is a commotion as the other beggars cry out to the approaching group for alms. The air has changed; it seems to shimmer. For something unique is happening with this crowd of people, but he doesn’t know what it is. The woman across the road begins to plead for mercy instead of alms, and others take up her cry. And he begins to hear a name, repeated over and over: Jesus – Jesus – Jesus. And he is afraid and scrambles to the edge of the cloak, away from the road. Perhaps there is someone in the crowd who is rich and is being generous with his coins. But he fears a stampede and is torn between staying where he is to share in the generosity of the stranger and being ready to scramble for safety. He decides to stay low to the ground, so that if the situation becomes dangerous, he can crawl away from the commotion and avoid injury. The old man who sits to his right says that the crowd is following someone named Jesus of Nazareth. And on hearing the name, there is a reaction throughout his entire body that he cannot describe. It is like being on fire and being cold at the same time. The surface of his skin tingles; there is tightness in his belly; it’s how he feels when he’s really scared, but oddly, he senses that he is no longer frightened. And the air that was shimmering now seems to thicken about him; it lies on his skin, cooling the beads of sweat that have formed there.
            He cannot explain why, but he opens his mouth to take up the cry of “Jesus”. “Jesus, Son of David”, he screams, “Have mercy on me.” And he is surprised at his words. He does not know where they come from, but he is aware of their significance, as is the crowd. For he has labeled this man whom he cannot see with a title reserved for the Messiah. And the crowd, tolerant of the cries of others, turns towards him and angrily tells him to be quiet. But it’s too late; something within h[i]as become unleashed and in his deepest being, he knows that getting this man’s attention is critical.   And his desperation rises as he cries out more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
            The tone of the crowd changes. And the old man next to him says, “He heard you – he’s calling for you.”
He leaves his cloak behind as the people guide him with their voices. For they cannot touch him without risking impurity, but the teacher has asked to see him so they are encouraging. Almost orchestrated, they open a path for him to walk and then close ranks again after he passes. He feels that he does not need their verbal directions. And he walks as if there is someone gently pulling him along.
When he is three feet away from Jesus, he stops. On one level he senses the closeness of the crowd, but at a deeper level, he is aware only of the man standing in front of him. And he remembers the stories about the encounters between God and the prophets of old. He does not understand why but he senses he is in the presence of the holy.
“What do you want me to do for you?”
It is a soft voice; there is peace that is transmitted to his soul. And there is no urgency, in fact, time seems somehow suspended. He expects judgment but feels, what? He cannot describe it, but he is not afraid. Is it too much to ask? For there was a time before when he went to synagogue, when he listened to the reading of the scriptures. And he knows that the prophets were able to do many amazing things, but he cannot remember ever hearing about healing of blindness. He knows that he has done nothing to deserve mercy, but…
“My teacher, let me see again.” There – he said it. Once uttered, the words seem to fill up the entire space between the two men. And he waits but is unaware of time passing. He is not anxious.
Quietly comes the response: “Go, your faith has made you well.”
The Presence he could only feel before now fills up his vision. And he risks closing his eyes and then slowly opens them. The light from the morning sun is very soft and the air shimmers. He blinks quickly but does not wipe away the tears that slowly spill over to his cheeks. And he looks into the face of God. And smiles.

[1] The style of this reflection is storytelling, in keeping with the genre of Mark.  While use of evocative language to paint the picture was a goal, the rather plain language of the text was also designed to complement was has been described as Mark’s use of “rough” Greek.  As the name Bartimaeus is not really a name, but a description, the man in this story also nameless.  While this author is not talented enough to incorporate many characteristics of Mark’s writing style, the recounting of the story in the present tense and the frequent use of “and” and “for” is intentional.

[i] Elizabeth Hendrick ©2007  For audio of the full sermon, click here.

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St. Matt’s 5th Annual Car Show Photo Gallery

Overcast skies and the threat of rain did not stop St. Matt’s from having an event full of fun, laughter, and prizes.  Although community turnout was affected by the weather, it was a very successful day.  Thank you to all who participated in any way, from planning the event to helping staff and run the show, to coming out regardless of the weather.  Financial totals are being tallied and final numbers will be announced to the vestry shortly. Your participation was key–once again, It’s the People!

If anyone has photos from the day to add to the gallery below, please contact the church office.

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Blessing of the Animals Photo Gallery


About 30 – 35 dogs, a few cats, a rabbit, fish, and beloved stuffed animals gathered with their people in the church courtyard Sunday, October 18, for the annual Blessing of the Animals at St. Matthew’s. Mother Liz led a short service before blessing each one. P. J. served as host for the occasion.

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Highlights From the Talent Show For Habitat

St. Matthew’s Twelfth Annual Talent Show raised over $1,200. for Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity. A wide-ranging array of talent was on hand to entertain folks and help raise funds for this worthy cause. A few photos are below.


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