Spotlight on Ministry — Episcopal Church Women (ECW)

The Nativity Display sponsored by the ECW was this past Sunday, December 11, in the parish hall. A wide variety of nativity displays from all parts of the world as well as well-loved family displays were featured.  This annual event is a favorite at St. Matthew’s.


About the ECW:

The purpose of the ECW is to assist the women of the Episcopal Church to carry on Christ’s work of
reconciliation in the world and to take their place as leaders in the life, governance and worship of the church.

ALL women of St. Matthew’s are invited to participate in this dynamic group.

ECW benefits monies from the bi-annual Cathedral Book store visit to St. Matthew’s. The Vera Bradley sales at St. Matthew’s is another activity of this self-supporting organization. ECW has sponsored education & clothing costs for Daysy Caceres, in ‘Our Little Roses” orphanage for the past 12 years. The ECW provides for the Episcopal Church by the United Thank Offering (UTO).

ECW is represented at the Diocesan Annual ECW meeting, ECW Retreat. Meetings include the Annual Chili Cook-off, Salad Social, ECW Retreat at Camp Mikell, Halloween Bingo, Christmas Gathering and Display of Nativities.

Watch the bulletin board for other upcoming ECW events. Contact the church office for further information.

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Christmas Eve/ Christmas Day Services

Saturday, December 24, Christmas Eve:

5:00 p.m. Holy Eucharist Rite II – Family Service with the Cherub Choir

(No nursery available on this day so that all families may worship together)

7:30 p.m. Holy Eucharist Rite II

10:30 p.m. Carol Sing

11:00 p.m. Festive Holy Eucharist Rite II (with incense) with the Sanctuary Choir

Sunday, December 25, Christmas Day

10:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist Rite II

(No nursery available on this day)

Sunday, January 1, New Year’s Day

10:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist

(No nursery available on this day)

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Musings From Mother Liz

Mother Liz & PJIt’s hard to believe, but the “holidays” are right around the corner.  I love that in its wisdom, the Church set aside a season of preparation for Christmas, called Advent.  A time of watching and waiting; a time of quiet contemplation and prayer in the midst of all the activities that can consume us as Christmas approaches.  As many of you know, I am a bit of an Advent ‘junky’.  I need the season of Advent in order to embrace Christmas fully – I think we all do.  I think of Advent as pilgrimage.  I am on a journey to Bethlehem, to see the wonderful miracle that God has promised.  A Messiah, foretold in the Hebrew scriptures and realized in Jesus the Christ.

Over time, several people have asked me what they might do to intentionally mark the time of Advent.  So I thought I would share a couple of ideas with you.  If you have practices that you have found useful, please share them on the St. Matthew’s FaceBook page.


I am a big reader, and I enjoy adding to my daily devotions by reading books and articles created for the Advent season.  Here are some books that might interest you:

Watch for the Light:  a series of 50 devotional readings for Advent and Christmas from noted authors, including  Henri Nouwen, Bernard of Clairvaux, Kathleen Norris, St. Thomas Aquinas, Karl Rahner,  Edith Stein, Karl Barth, Oscar Romero, Evelyn Underhill, Dorothy Day, Brennan Manning, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Annie Dillard, Martin Luther, St. John Chrysostom, and C. S. Lewis.  I have used this book for several years and never tire of it.

God is in the Manger:  a series of 40 readings for Advent, Christmas and the Feast of the Epiphany from Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-45), a Christian minister, seminary professor, and theologian who became one of the leading voices of opposition against Nazism during World War II. He was a founding member of Germany’s Confessing Church and was executed for participating in a plot to assassinate Hitler. His theological views have become highly influential in the years since his death.  This will be my reading for this year.
Kneeling in Bethlehem: poetry for the season of Advent and Christmas from Anne Weems. says, “In a style that is reverent and faith-filled, Anne Weems reflects on the mystery of the Christmas season. Included in this collection are twenty-six new poems as well as popular selections from her earlier works, especially Reaching for Rainbows and Family Faith Stories.  If you love poetry, you will love this book.
Taking on a new prayer discipline is another way to mark the season.  You can use the Book of Common Prayer to pray Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer.  There are also abbreviated daily prayer offices: Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families (p. 137-140) offers a prayer structure for both morning and evening; an Order of Worship for the Evening (p. 109-114) provides something more substantial than daily devotions, but still abbreviated from the office of Evening Prayer.  Or you could try praying Compline (p.127-135) before bed.

Another option is the use of prayer beads.  Last year around this time, we made Anglican rosaries for Chaplain Donna Mote to pass out to travelers at Atlanta Airport and some of those involved began praying the rosary.  The Anglican (Episcopal) rosary is quite flexible in the prayers you use, so their use in Advent can have specific Advent prayers.  There is a wonderful book, titled, “Praying with Beads”, by Nan Lewis Doerr and Virginia Stem Owens, that offers rosary prayers for each liturgical season of the year.  In our next e-letter, I will offer some prayers and scriptures you might find useful.


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Spotlight: Stephen Ministry Comes to St. Matthews

About Stephen Ministry

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 home-bound, convalescing, or rehabilitating
  • New parents
  • Single parents
  • Victims of disasters
  • Those in a spiritual crisis

The list goes on.

Everyone faces periods of crisis, transition or difficulty.  During these times a caring relationship with someone who will faithfully listen, empathize and pray with and for them, and encourage them with Christ’s love and care can be a tremendous benefit.

Stephen’s Ministry, a 40 year old program, was founded with just this mission in mind. Stephen Ministers are lay Christians selected, trained, and supervised by their congregation’s Stephen Leaders to provide effective, one-to-one care to others.

Stephen Ministries also has a great website: where you can hear testimonies about the life changing  effect Stephen Ministers provide to those who are hurting and in need of care.

Where Plans for Stephen Ministry Are at St. Matthew’s

There are several steps which need to be completed to officially launch this program.

  1. Enrollment (completed)
  2. Select and train leaders (completed–Susan Jung and Priscilla Trescott completed training in June.)
  3. Select and train Stephen Ministers (Our first trainee will  complete his in April. Another training class will begin in September 2017)
  4. Stephen Ministers will be available to St. Matthew’s in April.

For more information, please contact Susan Jung or Priscilla Trescott.

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Spotlight on Ministry — Outreach — Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry

Mission Statement:
“The mission of the Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry is to honor and uphold the Lordship of Jesus Christ by reaching out, in His name, to our neighbors in need.  To the end that our clients will find encouragement, love, and hope and that the Kingdom of God will be manifest on Earth.”
This year alone (through June), the Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry had distributed 239,538 food items to struggling families, along with countless hours of love and support.
From humble beginnings (two trailers and a couple of stand alone storage units), the Southeast Gwinnett Cooperative Ministry, fondly known as the Coop, now serves many communities, operating out of a 5,000 sq. ft. building in Grayson.  Throughout these years of growth, the Coop has remained true to its mission statement, and currently, under the charismatic leadership of Laura Drake, Lynn Rains, Ivy Hudson, and our own Becky Olbon, it has expanded into several key programs of service:  Christmas Light, Summer Manna, Seasoned With Love, and Birthday Bags.
More details on these vital ministries, and ways that you can help, may be found at:
The Coop has become the most focused upon organization for our parish outreach efforts.  With its broad range of community programs, the Coop offers many, many opportunities for our parish to step up and play an active role in spreading God’s love.  Aid to the Coop goes beyond donations of food and money.  An atmosphere of support and love provided to those in need is of great importance, and this sense of shared community is a vital role played by the Coop.
Here are some highlights of how our parish is already very involved with the Coop.  We send $375 each month to the Coop.  We have parishioners who help stock the shelves, put together birthday bags, and volunteer with the seasonal programs such as Christmas Light and Summer Manna.  Our Knit, Purl and Pray ministry makes lap blankets and baby blankets, and our PreK-5th grade Sunday School classes put together food bags (complete meals for families and treats for kids).  We do two major food drives each year, during the months of January and June, and ongoing throughout the year, we make regular deliveries from the collection barrels.
Continually, volunteers are needed to interview families who may receive aid, and also in great demand are volunteers to work in the food pantry.  All training for volunteers is provided at the Coop.  Whether contributing as individuals, or working together as groups from within our parish, the Coop offers an extraordinary opportunity for helping others in need, and experiencing the miracle of God’s presence in our lives.
As one of over 30 local, supporting churches to the Coop (we have this designation by providing annual financial support and volunteers, and conducting food drives), let’s rally as a parish, and expand upon our proud tradition of service.
More detailed information on ways to help day in and day out at the Coop may be found at:
Please contact Becky Olbon, Cheryl Wheeler, Michael Barringer, or any person in Outreach with any questions about the Coop.
We are located at 55 Grayson Industrial Parkway in Grayson just off of Loganville Highway (Highway 20), behind the Gwinnett County Fire Station No. 8.
We currently serve the following areas in our community:
Snellville: 30078, 30039, Grayson 30017
Loganville 30052 (Gwinnett county area)
Hours of Operation:
Client Services:
Monday          3pm to 7pm
Wednesday  10am to 2pm
Friday            10am to 2pm
Donation Drop Off:
Monday        10am to 12pm,  3pm to 7pm
Tuesday        10am to 12pm
Wednesday  10am to   2pm
Thursday      10am to 12pm
Friday            10am to   2pm

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