The Fall Youth Retreat–“Wholly Devoted”

We took 25 people, more than 10 bins of food and supplies, 5 vehicles and lots of SPIRIT on the Fall Youth Retreat to Camp Tugalo in Toccoa on Aug 11-13th for a weekend of laughing and learning.

The theme of the retreat was “Wholly Devoted.” Through exploring the Levitical sacrifices, we learned about God’s sacrificial love for us, and how we can sacrificially love God and others.  Youth enjoyed Team Building events, spent time bonding with each other, and spent some time with God, too. There were small groups, sports, games, s’mores, singing and more!

We also went hiking at “Little Falls” at Toccoa Falls College, and enjoyed a visit to the historic Toccoa Falls (pictured below).

 

On the retreat, we welcomed a several newcomers to the Youth Program as well! We all had a blast!

 

 

 

 

 



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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

A special thank you to the church and all the lovely volunteers for their help during this summer’s Hero Central VBS. We had around 100 kids on campus and they had a blast! From Charmaine helping me with the color printer to ensure the perfect name tags to Oscar, Sylvia and the youth moving the Fellowship Hall dividers to the sanctuary to create our “cityscape”, VBS has truly been a work of love. Through this week, I’ve watched the volunteers holding hands and comfort crying kids as well as helping them create art and explore what it means to be a true hero in God. For me, it was easy to see what a hero was because any group of people who give up time–our most important non-renewable resource–to help foster God’s love in our youth are heroes in the truest sense of the word. A heartfelt thank you to all of you, especially the center leads who spent many hours preparing their center – VBS would be nothing without you. You are all heroes!

Kira Coats

VBS Director

 

 



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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 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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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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