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”


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!


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.


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.


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!



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

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 and adults, please contact Kira Coats at  If you would like to work with the Special Needs group on Tuesday and Thursday, please contact Amanda Livermont at, or sign up to volunteer here.


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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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Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper

Food will be served from 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Before Lent begins, come enjoy tasty food (all-you-can-eat pancakes and breakfast food) and enthusiastic service as the youth of our parish wait on you.
A love offering will be taken and the proceeds will go to help support the youth’s work in raising money to aid the hungry!
Youth, please arrive at 5:30 to help set-up!
Burning of the Palms will follow the supper at 7:00 p.m. to prepare the ashes for Ash Wednesday services the next day.

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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

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 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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Acolyte Festival

Acolyte Festival 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

at the Cathedral of St. Philip

Acolytes of all ages are invited to: Engage in workshops;  Participate in the Acolyte Olympics, Take selfies with the Bishops, Fellowship with Acolytes from around the diocese.
Sign-in is at 9:00 a.m., Festival is from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. $20 per person, including lunch. Registration closes on September 3rd.
For more information and to register, click here.

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August, The Beginning of a New Adventure

The start of the school year brings such a sense of anticipation, doesn’t it?  I haven’t been in school for years, but STILL, every time things start gearing up for school, I can’t help but get excited.  It’s a new beginning, a blank canvas…like unmarked sand at the beach before anyone has walked upon it; we can make this year into whatever we want, start new habits, new traditions, have a new outlook, go in a totally new direction.  It’s a new adventure!

The Disciples’ Adventure

I sometimes wonder about what it would have been like when Jesus called his disciples.  Was there that sense of excitement at starting something new?  That sense of adventure?
Jesus’s purpose in calling the disciples was, indeed, to take them on a new adventure, the crazy awesome journey of learning to follow him and be more and more like him.  And that’s really our purpose this year with Christian Formation…figuring out how to follow Jesus in this day and age, and how to continue to be more and more like him…that certainly is an adventure!

Formation vs. Education

You’ll notice I say “Christian Formation,” not simply “Christian Education.” Education has to do with knowledge and intellect.  Formation has to do with so much more; it’s a person’s whole life: intellect, emotion, spiritual connection, actions.  It’s not just what we KNOW about God, but how we live it out in the world and in community.  It’s doing life together.  Education, the knowledge piece, is an important part of Formation, but it’s just one part.
When Jesus called his disciples, he definitely educated them. He taught them lots of things.  He sat around teaching them all kinds of parables and the Sermon on the Mount, among others.  But he didn’t stop there.  He did life with them.  He practiced living out those teachings in the real world.  Those disciples went everywhere with Jesus, watching him apply that knowledge and put it into action.
The Adventure of Our Formation
Formation was certainly an adventure for the disciples!  What a journey…retreating up to mountaintops, exploring God’s creation, meeting all kinds of people, witnessing miracles, and being part of God’s work in the world.  We hope that this year, our Formation into Christians who are more like Christ, will be that kind of an adventure for you, too!
And I hope you’ll join us on that adventure!

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Blessing of the Backpacks Sunday, August 7

A family service and Children’s Sermon on Sunday August 7 at 9:30 a.m. included the Blessing of the Backpacks as children and youth prepared to start another school year. Children of all ages brought their backpacks to church for a special blessing, and teachers and college students (adults, too!) took part, receiving a special blessing.

This event marked the end of the summer service schedule at St. Matt’s. On August 14, St. Matthew’s returned to two services at 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., with breakfast at 9:00 a.m. between services and Sunday School registration for all ages at 9:30 a.m. Sunday School classes resume Sunday, August 21 at 9:30 a.m. St. Matthew’s is a vibrant, diverse, and welcoming faith community. and we welcome all to come worship Jesus Christ in community with us.


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Vacation Bible School — Surf Shack!

Surf Shack was a blast! 

Every year, VBS is a clear reminder of God’s divine providence, and Surf Shack was no exception.  With almost 90 children, we needed a lot of youth and adult volunteers, and the Holy Spirit led just the right number to us at just the right times.  Over 60 adults and youth dedicated their week to sharing God’s love with the children of our community.  If you were able to witness the joyful energy, you know what a blessing it is to have such a vibrant program here at St. Matt’s.  If you missed it, be sure to check it out next summer!  You do NOT need to give your entire week – many of our volunteers were only able to spend one day at Surf Shack.

Many thanks to all the people who made Surf Shack a huge success.  And special thanks to the center area leads who spent time preparing for the week and then working tirelessly to create a full VBS experience for all the children.  Beth DiGiovanni, Amanda Livermont, Sharon Ferrell, Kira Coats, Jessie Hurst, Heidi Byron, Caroline Carter, Isaac Camden, Nancy Drury, Josh Hurst and Nate Olbon:  your leadership and commitment set the tone for the week.  And to our dedicated teachers who created and implemented our first ever Special Needs VBS (Abby Whatley, Althea Benton and Norma Dove): hopefully this year’s pilot will lead to a growing program next year.

Are you feeling unsure about helping out next year?  I encourage everyone to find a way to get involved in some capacity.  Leading VBS has been a true joy for me over the past 3 years, even though answering that call took me out of my comfort zone (aka the Craft room).  I am thankful that Sally Ulrey nudged me into my new role, and I can honestly say that it has enriched my life and reinforced my faith.  Please prayerfully consider how you might allow the Holy Spirit to work in you through VBS.

With profound gratitude,

Terri Hurst, VBS Director

With profound gratitude,

Terri Hurst, VBS Director

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