St.Matthew’s Episcopal Church

The planning for St.Matthew’s Episcopal Church started in 1945 when the Diocesan Missionary Society of the Diocese of Virginia purchased property at 1101 Forest Ave for $3500. It was the first Episcopal mission in the Richmond area since St. Stephen’s in 1911. The purpose was to serve 30 subdivisions with an estimated 150 Episcopal families. On November 9, 1948, Reverend Henry Johnston Jr. was hired as the vicar, and on this day members also selected the name, St.Matthew’s. The first service was held at Tuckahoe Elementary School on November 28, 1948. The first Vestry committee met on January 2, 1949 when the Every Member Canvass raised $4,298. St.Matthew’s was then admitted to the diocese in 1949; it became a mission church and self supporting parish five years later.

The size of the congregation steadily increased, and so new facilities were added to accommodate the congregation’s growth. In 1948, the entire block on the northeast corner of Patterson and Forest Avenues was purchased. Two years later, the first sanctuary, which is presently Parish Hall as well as a downstairs to the sanctuary was added. More Sunday school classroom space was added in 1955; a sanctuary that accommodated 525 people in 1959: and by 1993, more classrooms, a nursery, a library and office space. St.Matthew’s Episcopal Church is a liturgical church that follows the Anglican tradition from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979. St.Matthew’s is biblically based and is centered on the Scripture. T here is a variety of holy Eucharist services that are held. Two Sunday morning services are held, and there is a morning prayer on a weekday morning. The church is made of primarily Caucasians with about 750 regular members.

There are a variety of different ministries that are a part of the parish. Some of these ministries include adult formation, men’s ministries, women ministries, youth, children, preschool, music, pastoral care and the discipleship ministry. Members participate in outreach programs that include delivering the ministry to the homeless people, prisoners and their families. Members have helped to build homes with the Richmond Chapter of Habitat for Humanity. In 2006 and 2007, mission groups were sent to Louisiana and Mississippi in efforts to help rebuild the city after Hurricane Katrina. Other mission trips vary in location from South Carolina to Mexico. Members also travel to Nepal, Central Asia, Bolivia and Costa Rica to support other church missions, as well as the diocese of Honduras. St.Matthew’s Episcopal Church states its mission is to build a relationship with Christ through devotion and fellowship in the church. Members of St. Matthew’s participate in this mission by spreading the gospel. They have taken a yearly trip, either foreign or domestic, for the past five years to Belize to construct schools, assist with medical aid, as well as to participate in cross- cultural evangelism.

St.Matthew’s supports local organizations with prayer, financial support, and community involvement. St.Matthew’s contributes financially to various organizations. Some of the organizations includes Habitat for Humanity, The Shepherd’s Center (a program that helps transport senior citizens for medical appointments, grocery shopping, and legal matters), Trinity Episcopal Seminary, Crossover Ministries (providing health care to the uninsured people of the Greater Richmond area), Central Virginia Food Bank (feeding the “working poor”, elderly, the unemployed and children that area affected by some type of disaster or crisis, Freedom House (providing food and shelter for the homeless, as well as helping with life skills), Strategies to Elevate People (STEP) (helping to build a relationship with God by mobilizing the church ministry into the community so that the poor can also benefit), and Congregations Around Richmond Involved to Assure Shelter (CARITAS) (and working with shelter program that helps to feed the poor during the winter months).

St.Matthew’s Episcopal Church
1101 Forest Avenue
Richmond, Virginia 23229

St.Matthew’s Episcopal Church website
St.Matthew’s Episcopal Church members

Profile prepared by Trisha Williams
October, 2009