Winding Up: St. Matthew’s, Portland

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Dear Friends in the Diocese of Oregon:

For many months now the Canon to the Ordinary and I have been working with the congregation of St. Matthew’s in the Parkrose neighborhood of Portland to discern their future. This morning the Senior Warden of St. Matthew’s published a Facebook post announcing the vestry’s decision to close the congregation in its current configuration. Below is the post by Laura Minnick:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Members, and Friends of St. Matthew’s; in the Name of the One who walks with us through dark valleys, and brings us into clear day, I bring you Greetings.

We are only new a few days from the Autumn Equinox – the beginning of the end of the year, as temperatures cool, the rains begin, and our plants begin their yearly offering to the ground, with flowers dying and leaves falling to the earth. It might seem sad, but is in it’s own way lovely- a reminder that there is beauty in death, and that it is part of the yearly cycle, a natural breathing of the earth as we go from year to year.

With this is mind, it is with both great reluctance, and yet with hope, that I must announce that the Vestry of St. Matthew’s, with the consent of Bishop Hanley, has decided that it is time to close the parish. There are many factors involved in this decision, but all together, our numbers and income are no longer sustainable, and it is no longer a responsible use of the money and energy of the parish to continue as we are.

We do not yet have a timetable for discontinuing services, and we don’t know what will be happening to the building. There is a great deal of work ahead, sorting out financial matters, taking inventory, etc. We will need help with these, and I will be sending out announcements on all of them.

Our remaining members will be searching out new church homes, but we are also hoping to find some way to keep some sort of ministry happening in the area, as we recognize that there are great needs that will remain. We hope to work with the diocese further on this.

We ask for your prayers as we enter this transition in the autumn of St. Matthew’s, and as our branches are slowly bared, we thank all of you for all of the love and hard work offered our parish in the last 73 years. It has been a good work, and it has been a blessing.

In Christ,

Laura Minnick
Senior Warden
St. Matthew’s, Portland

I ask that you, the members of the diocese, keep St. Matthew’s in your prayers as they begin this work. It is our intention to assist the congregation in winding up the parish with all its important decisions to come and to see that the parishioners are well taken care of as we move forward. Having said this, let me also say that this is an opportunity for the diocese to think in missional terms. What is the mission to which God is inviting us as it relates to this particular congregation, to the Portland metro area and indeed the rest of the diocese? What would God have us do next in the Parkrose area or in some other area of the diocese? This is not the work simply of the office of the Bishop; it is the work of all of the leadership of the diocese. I ask your prayers.

The Rt. Rev. Michael Hanley
Bishop of Oregon

One Response to "Winding Up: St. Matthew’s, Portland"
  1. Jan Sedlacek says:

    A great sadness enveloped me when I read the news of St. Matthew’s closing so I’m using this forum to express memories resulting in my sadness. I began attending St. Matthew’s in its first building on NE 102nd and Skidmore, being baptized and confirmed there in 1949 (at age 11) with Bishop Dagwell officiating at both events because there was no vicar. Morning Prayer was offered by lay readers – two of whom ultimately were ordained to the priesthood and one to the diaconate. The current building was constructed during my young adult life and I transitioned, under the guidance of Fr. Bernie Lamer, from youth ministry to adult ministry there, via Jr. Altar Guild beginning at age 12 to adult Altar Guild, teaching Sunday School and acting as Sunday School Treasurer. (Of course, no women lectors or chalice bearers at that time!) I recall Bishop Dagwell expressing the hope/expectation that St. Matthew’s would become “the Trinity of the east side.” After Father Lamer’s stroke he became a resident of Willamette View Manor in Milwaukie and attended St. John the Evangelist church (where I was then a member) until his death and during that period of time I was privileged to be one of the drivers to get him to church. I was terribly sad (and angry) when news came that David Humphrey parted ways with the Episcopal Church and took many of the then members of St. Matthew’s away with him, so it’s no wonder the income is no longer sustainable. My prayers go out to the members remaining at St. Matthew’s as they also grieve and transition from being members of St. Matthew’s to the congregations they may choose in which to continue their ministries.

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