Youth Service Retreat–“Seek and Serve”

June 15-18 was our youth service retreat, fulfilling our Baptismal vows to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our (local) neighbors as ourselves”. We sought to see Christ in all people from all different walks of life. We responded to three major issues: hunger, refugees, and homelessness.

Youth Service Retreat “Seek & Serve”

HUNGER

The first day, we learned about hunger, both globally and in our local area, then responded by serving at the Southeast Gwinnett Food Cooperative ministry. Some of our youth served in the pantry, filling orders and loading up clients’ cars. Some of our youth played outside with the children of clients while they got their food. Our youth experienced so much joy playing there!

REFUGEES

Next, we focused on refugees. We headed down to Clarkston to learn about several ministries with refugees, including Intertwined Candles, which provides jobs to mothers who need to work from home so they can also care for their children. We attended a rally at Refuge Coffee Company (which helps provide job skills to refugees by training them as servers and baristas). The rally was in celebration of World Refugee Day, where many different nations were represented. We heard the stories of resettlement of two refugees, one from Syria and one from Congo. Our youth were inspired with ideas for how we can serve the needs of refugees in our own area.

HOMELESSNESS

Finally, we learned about the issue of homelessness. On Sunday, we were joined by another youth group from St. Mark’s in Jacksonville (their youth minister is a childhood friend of our youth minister). Together, our youth groups packed lunches for the Church of the Common Ground, an Episcopal community which worships in Woodruff Park, largely attended by the homeless in that area. Thanks to the generosity of St. Matthew’s, we were also able to provide them with TONS of socks for their foot care clinic.

SEEKING & SERVING CHRIST IN ALL PERSONS

Each day, we reflected on how we had seen Christ in each person. The youth saw Christ in so many ways…in the delight of the children playing with bubbles or hula hoops, in the delight of their parents watching them play, in the creativity of a street performer at the Refugee Day rally, in the bright blue eyes of a soft-spoken man we met on the street, who attended church with us, in all our brothers and sisters in Christ that we met for the first time, and when we passed the peace, and the barriers seemed to come down. It was an incredible and amazing experience! If you get a chance, ask one of the youth to tell you what was meaningful to them! They will have so much to say, and they’d be happy to share!

 



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Vacation Bible School July 10-14

VBS – Hero Central — Discover Your Strength In God

 

VBS Camper Registration Online can be found here.    If you’d prefer, you can pick up registration forms in the Narthex or in the church office — just drop your completed form into the VBS box!

VBS 2017 will be held July 10-14, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  
All children ages 4-10 (rising Pre-K through rising 5th grade) are invited to attend.
Cost is $15 per child until June 15, then the price becomes $20 per child.  (Payment is due on the first day of camp, or pay by check at the time of registration).
 VBS is a nut-free environment!

 

SPECIAL NEEDS VBS

Rising Pre-K through Rising 5th Grade (ages 4-10)
Tuesday & Thursday, July 11 & 13, 2017 — 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon

COST:$10/child before June 15; $15/child after June 15

For the second year in a row, we are please to announce a Special Needs Vacation Bible School, for part of the week during VBS.  It will happen concurrently with the VBS described above, but in a different space and with an abbreviated time and modified schedule. If you have experience with children on the Autism Spectrum or with physical handicaps and would like to help, please contact Amanda Livermont at 678-491-7457 or  alivermont81@gmail.com.

Special Needs Camper Registration can be found here.

 

Many volunteers are needed to make VBS happen for 80-100 children!  Helping with VBS is a fun way to spread God’s love, bless others and make new friends!  Youth, please contact Sally Ulrey at stmattsyouth@bellsouth.net and adults, please contact Kira Coats at kiracoats@gmail.com.  If you would like to work with the Special Needs group on Tuesday and Thursday, please contact Amanda Livermont at alivermont81@gmail.com, or sign up to volunteer here.

 



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Stephen Ministry Comes to St. Matthew’s

On May 7th, Ted Sawyer, a long-time member of St. Matthew’s, was commissioned as a Stephen Minister at a ceremony at First United Methodist Church of Lawrenceville. This is no small feat. To achieve this highly responsible position, Ted had to successfully complete 50 hours of intense training over a course of 8 months. Ted is now prepared to offer the care-giving services of a Stephen Minister to his fellow parishioners.
At that same ceremony, Susan Jung and Priscilla Trescott were officially named leaders of the new program. To become Stephen Leaders, Susan and Priscilla had to successfully complete a rigorous 50-hour specialized training for leaders. This training qualifies Susan and Priscilla to oversee the program (along with Mother Liz) and to train other Stephen Ministers. Both Susan and Priscilla have also completed the 50 hour Stephen Ministry program twice and have served as Stephen Ministers at other Episcopal churches.
This ceremony also officially launches the Stephen Ministry program at St. Matt’s. Ted, Susan, and Priscilla are now available to offer the distinctively Christian care giving they have learned to the members of St. Matthew’s.
What is Stephen Ministry all about? Who does it apply to?
We live in a fast-paced and fragmented world.  People suffer crises and tragedies, but they often don’t have caregivers they can count on. Family members and friends may be scattered across the continent-or even the world.  Neighborhoods rarely offer the support they once did.  So when a crisis or challenge hits, many people have no one to turn to and end up facing it alone.
Congregations today are overwhelmed with needs for care-the needs of their own members and the needs of people in the surrounding community.
  • People who are hospitalized
  • Those who are grieving
  • Those suffering loneliness or discouragement
  • People who are divorced or separated
  • Those who are dying-and their families and friends
  • Unemployed persons
  • People fighting cancer or another debilitating illness
  • People providing long-term care to a loved one
  • Those dealing with the losses and challenges of relocating
  • Parents whose children have left home
  • Those who are homebound, convalescing, or rehabilitating
  • New parents
  • Single parents
  • Victims of disasters
  • Those in a spiritual crisis
 The list goes on. Our wonderful and caring Mother Liz cannot attend to everyone without assistance.
Each of us faces periods of crisis, transition or difficulty.  During these times, a caring relationship with someone who will faithfully listen, empathize, pray with and for them, and encourage them with Christ’s love and care can be a tremendous benefit. The Stephen Minister will meet with the hurting person once a week for about an hour. During this time, the Stephen Minister listens to the care receiver without judgement or a “fix it” mentality. Ours is a process-oriented form of care and support. We walk alongside you as you move through tough times. We take a vow to God to keep the relationship and anything said completely confidential. All Stephen Ministers are paired with care receivers of the same gender. Our services are available only to those 18 or over.
Should you be interested or if you know of someone who may benefit from having a Stephen Minister, please contact the church office.
For more information about Stephen Ministry at St. Matthew’s, and a link to the application to become a Stephen Minister, click here.
Stephen Ministries also has a great website:  www.stephenministries.org where you can hear testimonies about the life changing effect Stephen Ministers provide to those who are hurting and in need of care.



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2017 Youth Sunday!

Youth Sunday was April 23, 2017.  The Youth led all parts of the service, including helping to give the sermon, which was on Doubt from the story of Doubting Thomas.  Youth used personal stories to illustrate times when doubt served to strengthen their faith.

Read the text of the sermon here. If you’d like to listen to the sermon, click here and scroll down to Sermons.

Thanks be to God for all our wonderfully vibrant young leaders!

 

Youth (and soon-to-be Youth) on Youth Sunday 2017

 



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Walking the Path — Musings by Mother Liz

Musing from Mother Liz

If you take a walk towards the pine trees that line Oak Road, you will notice some recent changes.  There is a path through the trees, lined by wood planks.  On a sunny day, one end of the path will be in the sun; the other in shadow.  Depending on your spiritual mood, you can choose to enter in sunshine and finish in shadow, or enter in shadow and move into the light.  Slight breezes cause a murmur in the pines above, and oddly, you don’t notice the traffic that passes on Oak Road. Bible verses on plaques that line the path invite you to slow down; to read affirmations of God’s love, and faithfulness and never-ending support.  You find that you want to take your time as you walk.   The verses speak words of encouragement and the pace allows you to notice your surroundings.  Benches scattered along the path tempt you to slow down even more; to sit and rest, or maybe just breathe.  You are in sacred space, and somehow, your spirit knows that.  It is a gift, offered in hopes that its use would connect us more deeply to God.

Holy Week is also a path – a path that starts in celebration and moves to darkness; from sunshine to shadow.  Holy Week is a time that asks each of us to walk the path with Jesus, from Palm Sunday, through Good Friday, and on to the promise of Easter.  I invite you this week to walk with us, through the various services we will have: Tuesday’s service of Reconciliation and Healing, Wednesday’s Healing Eucharist; Maundy Thursday, with washing of hands and feet and stripping of the altar, the Thursday Night Watch, Good Friday services, the Vigil of Easter on Saturday, and Easter services on Sunday.  I also encourage you to take time to walk this Meditation Path, and allow it to give quiet space for reflection and prayer.

The Meditation Path is a creation of Josh Hurst, done as part of the requirements for becoming an Eagle Scout, the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program in America.  I read that only 4% of boy scouts are granted this rank, and the process is a long one.  I am thankful that Josh thought of St. Matthew’s when he defined his project.  He has given us a profound space in which to reconnect with God, not only during this most holy week, but for always.  Thank you, Josh Hurst.

In Peace, Mother Liz+



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Lenten Programs At St. Matthew’s

Sunday Small Groups—9:30-10:15 a.m., starting in the Parish Hall (Mar 5, 12, 19, 26)

For Lent, we will be forming many intentional small groups for discussion and encouragement to live out Lenten faith practices.  Each week, we will introduce a Lenten practice for the first 10 mins or so, and then participants will break out into small groups to discuss how it applies to our lives as Christians, and to care for one another and encourage each other.  Topics include:

March 5th—An introduction to Lent and The Practice of Fasting

March 12th—The Practice of Study: How to Read Scripture and get something out of it

March 19th—The Practice of Service and Giving

March 26th—The Practice of Prayer and Journaling

If you missed last week, not to worry!  You can still jump right into a small group, and we’d love to have you!

 

Wednesday “Just Eating”—6:00-7:00 p.m., Parish Hall (Mar 8, 15, 22, 29 and Apr 12)

“Just Eating” is a program about how our faith inspires reflection and intentionality when it comes to food.  “Just” can mean “only,” but it can also mean “right” or “fair.”  The     program explores how we can live out our faith through how we eat, including how food impacts our own bodies and our communities, both locally and globally. Each program will include a simple meal (Soup and Salad) that highlights the themes of justice around our food practices. Topics are below:

March 8th—Food as Sacramental (Eucharist)

March 15th—Food as Nutritional (Nurturing the Body)

March 22nd—Food as Global (World Hunger)

March 29th—Food as Environmental

April 5th—No programs due to Spring Break

April 12th—Food as Communal (Creating Community)

 



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Lenten Programs at St. Matthew’s Begin Sunday, March 5

1. Sunday Mornings Small Groups9:30-10:15 a.m., starting in the Parish Hall (Mar 5, 12, 19, 26) For Lent, we will be forming many intentional small groups for discussion and encouragement to live out Lenten faith practices. Each week, we will introduce a Lenten practice for the first 10 mins or so, and then participants will break out into small groups to discuss how it applies to our lives as Christians, and to care for one another and encourage each other. Topics of Lenten discipline will include service, study, fasting, and prayer practices like journaling, solitude, and confession. In order to intentionally create Christian community, participants will remain with their same small group throughout the 4-week Lenten program. To sign up to participate in a small group, please contact Sally Ulrey at stmattsyouth@bellsouth.net .

2. Wednesday Evenings “Just Eating”6:15-7:00 p.m., Parish Hall (Mar 8, 15, 22, 29 and Apr 12) “Just Eating” is a program about how our faith inspires reflection and intentionality when it comes to food. “Just” can mean “only,” but it can also mean “right” or “fair.” The program explores how we can live out our faith through how we eat, including how food impacts our own bodies and our communities, both locally and globally. Each program will include a simple meal (Soup and Salad) that highlights the themes of justice around our food practices. Interested? Email Sally Ulrey at stmattsyouth@bellsouth.net (this will help us know how many to prepare for).



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You Helped! St. Matt’s raises over $5,000 for SE Gwinnett CoOp

St. Matthews Episcopal Church for SE Gwinnett CoOp Hunger Walk Team http://engage.acfb.org/goto/stmatts

On Sunday afternoon, March 5, 2017, thousands of people came together to raise awareness and funds to help fight hunger in our community. Our team was there!

Hunger Walk/Run is one of the most important hunger relief efforts of the year. The money raised feeds hope for the 1 in 5 people who face hunger in our community.

You can still help!

  • Donate and spread the word! Even if you weren’t able to join the Walk/Run on you can still be an integral part of the fight against hunger in our community. Donate online at http://engage.acfb.org/goto/stmatts and then send the link to a few friends to do the same. Our team goal raised over  $5,000 for the Southeast Gwinnett CoOp!

Together, we can make sure that a child in our community doesn’t go to bed hungry tonight. We can offer a glimmer of hope to struggling parents desperately trying to make ends meet for their family. We can ensure another senior citizen isn’t forced to choose between paying for medicine or food.

Thank you, for your support!  



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Vestry Voice — Vestry Meeting January 2017

This month’s meeting was held on Monday night January 9th.  Most all Vestry members were present along with Sally Ulrey, Mother Liz and, our recording secretary, Susan Carson.
We opened the meeting at 7:04 with prayer. Mother Liz asked the Vestry to read Psalm 40 and a reflection on the Psalm followed.
Fellowship Committee members asked to come to the Vestry meeting and brought some of their concerns to the attention of the Vestry.
The first was their concern for the Sunday morning breakfast and the participation of the parish in signing up to serve. The sign ups have been fewer in number and there is some confusion about the expectation of those who volunteer. The discussion centered around the cost of breakfast, the procedures for kitchen prep and clean up, and the paper supplies.   The Vestry made suggestions to re-instate a kitchen guild and develop guidelines for serving breakfast and the use of the kitchen. It was further suggested that the committee has the power to design their own guidelines and develop a plan for breakfast sign ups that is workable.  Oscar said that he would try to determine which Sundays would be busier that others so that volunteers wouldn’t feel pressured to spend more than they could afford.
The question was asked if the coffee expense comes out of the Fellowship Budget.  Jack indicated he would check with the Treasurer to verify where the funds are pulled from so that it would not directly affect the budget.
The Global Mission Ministry has decided to postpone the 2017 Reading Camp in Grenada due to logistical and scheduling issues, and the absence of lead teachers available as trainers on the date chosen by Grenada.
The Long Range Planning Committee announced that they have over 150 completed surveys with the possibility of more coming in prior to the January 20th deadline. They will meet on the 24th to tabulate the results and determine the 6 priority areas that the parish identified as important to them for the coming year.  More on this to come at the annual meeting.
To date we have three nominees for the Vestry with the possibility of an additional 3 more.  We charged the nominating committee to develop a spread sheet of those who had been asked so that there would be no overlap. The spreadsheet also includes those who declined and those who have currently accepted.
Mother Liz indicated that the 5:00 service on Christmas Eve set a record with 220 in attendance.
Three versions of a draft 2017 budget were presented to the Vestry for discussion.  After much discussions of the pros and cons of the three budget versions and a desire to be good stewards of the pledges we have to date, and while still stepping out in faith to do what God is calling us to do, it was decided to postpone the approval of the budget until after the results of the surveys come through and we have the real input from the parish from those surveys.  We scheduled a follow up budget meeting for January 29th after the 10:30 service.
We adjourned the meeting at 9:23 PM.
Jack Denton
Sr. Warden



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