History of the Congregation
In 1945 the Diocesan Missionary Society of the Diocese of Virginia initiated the planning for St. Matthew's, purchasing a portion of the present property for $3,500 for the first Episcopal mission to be established in the Richmond area since St. Stephen's in 1911. It was projected, in this post World War II growth period, that the mission would serve 30 subdivisions that included an estimated 150 Episcopal families.
The Rev. Henry Johnston Jr. was hired as vicar of the mission and on November 9, 1948 members of the congregation met and selected the name St. Matthew's. On November 28, 1948 the first service was held at Tuckahoe Elementary School. On January 2, 1949 the first Vestry committee met and this was followed by an Every Member Canvass that raised $4,298 in pledges. St. Matthew's was admitted to the Diocese in 1949 as a mission church and achieved parish (self-supporting) status in 1954, five years ahead of the Society's informal schedule.
Rev. Johnston, who saw himself as a builder rather than a maintainer of churches, left St. Matthew's in 1956 and the congregation called the Rev. David H. Lewis Jr. as Rector. When the Rev. Lewis was elected Suffragan Bishop by the Diocese of Virginia in 1979, his assistant and later the interim Rector, the Rev. E.A. (Tad) de Bordenave III, was called as Rector. When the Rev. de Bordenave left to establish Anglican Frontier Missions, the Rev. Charles D. (Chuck) Alley was called as Rector in 1994.
Over the 45-year span of Rectors, the size of the congregation grew steadily and new facilities were constructed to handle the growth. In 1948 the additional portion of the entire block on the northeast corner of Patterson and Forest Avenues was purchased at a cost of $3,600. In 1950 the first sanctuary (the present Parish Hall) and a downstairs Parish Hall were completed at a cost of $56,000.
In 1955 additional Sunday School classrooms were added at a cost of $34,600 and in 1959 a new $220,000 sanctuary, with seating for 525, was dedicated. More classrooms, a nursery, a library and offices were added for $173,000 in 1968 and in 1993, pledges of $360,000 to a Capital Campaign made possible a new $195,000 organ and other improvements.
At St. Matthew's Bishop Lewis had the help of four assistants -- the Rev. Louis C. Breitenbach in 1958, the Rev. Harry Lee Hoffman in 1963, the Rev. Charles L. Johnson in 1970 and the Rev. de Bordenave in 1976. The Rev. de Bordenave had as his assistants the Rev. James Barham in 1981, the Rev. Larry Hill in 1985 and the Rev. Eric Turner in 1988. The Rev. Turner and the Rev. William Harper served as Interim Rector of the Parish between the time of the Rev. de Bordenave's leaving and the arrival of our new Rector, the Rev. Chuck Alley. He is presently assisted by a staff that includes the Rev. Mario Gonzalez del Solar, who followed the Rev. Lee Moore as Assistant Rector. The Assistant to the Rector for children, youth and family ministries is Dave Matlak. Mark Hopkins serves as parish administrator. The St. Matthew's Preschool program is directed by Sue Rickman.
History of St. Matthew, Disciple of Jesus
The Feast of St. Matthew is September 21st. The symbols of St. Matthew are the sword, the means of his martyrdom, and the money bag, for his work as a tax collector. Our church community's logo, shown on the right side of the above masthead, incorporates both symbols with three money bags and three sword-like cruciforms. The portrayal of these two symbols in groups of three suggests the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The color green has traditionally signified everlasting, the triumph of life over death and hope. Our logo appears on many of our Web pages, written communications and church banners.
Scholars, using sources other than the Bible, (primarily Papias, Bishop of Hieropolis in Asia Minor, circa 60-130 A.D., and Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, the "Father of Church History," circa 260-340 A.D.) have produced writings from which the following biography of St. Matthew is composed.
Levi (Matthew) was born and raised a Jew by his father Alphaeus at his home in Capernaum. He was trained to collect taxes in the form of personal dues or customs on goods. As such he gained knowledge of languages (particularly Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew), and calculation. Inasmuch as his work was in the service of the Roman government, and in view of the abuses and corruption to which the system led, tax collectors were the object of widespread hatred. His post was at Capernaum where he collected from those crossing the Sea of Galilee, as well as those traveling the Mediterranean-Damascus Road, which ran along the shore.
Jesus called Matthew from his tax booth and feasted at his house, indicating that Matthew was a man of some wealth. Matthew followed Jesus for the rest of his ministry and was with the disciples after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. According to Papias, Matthew made a collection of Jesus' sayings in Hebrew. He traditionally is held to be the author of the first of the Gospels.
When the ancient world was divided among the disciples for the spreading of the Gospel, Matthew was given Ethiopia, which was the region west and south of the Euphrates River. Roman martyrology, the official record of martyrs for the Roman Catholic Church, holds that Matthew was martyred "in Ethiopia."