Parish life opportunities abound in this dynamic, energetic parish. Call the Parish Office if you're interested in learning about any of the following:
The Altar Guild
The Altar Guild is made up of volunteers who serve on nine committees that work throughout the year to both beautify the church and ensure the smooth running of the services. They are present at each worship service including weddings and funerals. They maintain the altars and sanctuaries, polish the brass and silver, and care for the linens and vestments. The Holy Eucharist sub-committee prepares the communion vessels and dresses the altar on Sundays and all special communion services.
The Flower Committee
The Flower Committee is part of the Altar Guild. They purchase the flowers and arrange them for the altar, the chapel, the memorial window and to greet you as you enter the vestibule of the church. They are dedicated artists who decorate the church on holy days such as Christmas, Easter, All Saints and Pentecost and on such special celebrations as Thanksgiving. They work in small teams assigned to each worship service. They usually practice their art on Saturday mornings and would welcome additional volunteers.
The Bedell fund is an endowment formed from the estate of Hope Bedell. It is administered by a committee of ten members appointed by the Vestry plus the Rector and at least one member of the St. Matthew's Vestry. The Committee researches and recommends to the Vestry projects to support of other Episcopal churches or clergy in Region I.
Bedford Spring Antiques Show
Each spring volunteers from St. Matthew's organize the church's biggest fundraiser, The Bedford Spring Antiques Show. This show brings together thirty of the Northeast's top antique dealers for a weekend show. St. Matthew's uses the money raised by this show and the preview party to support the church life. In addition to hosting the preview party, volunteers are engaged in inviting the dealers, publicity, and advertising. Additional volunteers are always needed.
Christian Education Commission
The Church School introduces our children to a Christian life using a Bible-based curriculum. Each Sunday, dedicated volunteers teach the children Christ's message by reading stories from the Bible, acting out playlets and leading the children in such special events as the Christmas Pageant. Those who would like to devote time to our youth are encouraged to volunteer.
St. Matthew's has a large and historic Churchyard dating from pre-Revolutionary times. The maintenance of the Churchyard and of the graves and headstones is the responsibility of the Churchyard Committee. A memorial columbarium has recently been added to the Churchyard and the committee's responsibilities. Members of this committee are appointed by the chair.
Diocesan Convention Delegation
The Rector and the Vestry choose representatives to represent St. Matthew's at the Diocesan Convention. This Convention meets once a year and provides those parishes within the Episcopal Diocese of New York with guidance and direction from the Presiding Bishop and the Bishops. It is the responsibility of the St. Matthew's Delegation to relay and announce the discussions and decisions made at the Convention.
The Rector and Vestry invite selected members of St. Matthew's to serve on the Insurance Committee. It is the responsibility of this committee to analyze and review the insurance needs of St. Matthew's, its property, buildings, plant, personnel and the Glebe and to address these needs.
The Rector and Vestry invite selected members of St. Matthew's to serve on the Investment Committee. The monies raised by, given or endowed to St. Matthew's Church are invested and the income realized by these investments used to fund the many enterprises and projects carried out by our church. A careful, balanced and prudent investment policy that takes account of market trends is vital to maintain the church's investment portfolio. It is the responsibility of the Investment Committee to examine, devise and recommend an investment policy and to implement and monitor the policy.
Men of St. Matthew's
All male parishioners are members of the Men of St. Matthew's. Volunteers assist the Property Commission in the spring and fall clean up. Volunteers also organize the All Parish Picnic in June, the Haunted Hike spaghetti supper, and help with the Mardi Gras party. There is always room for active volunteers.
The Men of St. Matthew's Breakfasts have become a popular activity open to all men in the parish. Held on the third Saturday of every month (September through June) from 7:30 to 8:45, and every Saturday during Lent, the format entails informal discussion on topics of interest. At each meeting, a participant leads the discussion.
This committee works with Director of Music Anthony Newman in coordinating the annual music program of St. Matthew's Church. The adult and youth choirs are overseen by this committee.
During church services, and at other special events, a nursery is provided to enable those with small children to leave them in a safe, controlled and supervised environment. Dedicated volunteers assist the nursery coordinator in making the nursery an enjoyable experience. Additional volunteers are always needed.
The purpose of the Outreach Commission is to extend St. Matthew's reach into the community and touch the lives of others. Funded by parish fundraising activities, the volunteers of the Outreach Commission carry out over 20 Christian and charitable projects in the local community. These projects range from mentoring children to helping the aged, from feeding the sick or poor to giving a child a Christmas present; providing high school scholarships to providing prison inmates with educational tools. The Commission has its own brochure that explains its programs.
The Rector invites selected parishioners to serve on the Personnel Committee. This committee serves as the Human Resource Department for St. Matthew's and deals with all HR matters relating to the clergy and full and part-time staff of St. Matthew's.
St. Matthew's has not only beautiful, historic buildings and expansive grounds, we also have an infrastructure that provides heating, light, and water to the buildings. The preservation and maintenance of these are the responsibility of the Property Commission. The volunteers who serve on this commission plan and implement a continuous maintenance and refurbishment program for all the St. Matthew's properties.
Project Smile (St. Matthew's Involved to Lower Expenses)
Project Smile undertakes improvement projects to beautify St. Matthew's Church. If you enjoy undertaking construction, painting and decorating projects then the volunteers of Project Smile would appreciate your help.
Each weekday the reception desk, located in the foyer of the Parish House, is manned by volunteers who work a morning or afternoon shift. They relieve the clergy and the staff of St. Matthew's of a significant administrative burden by answering the telephones, routing the calls, taking messages, answering questions and greeting visitors. In many cases they are the first point of contact for the visitor to St. Matthew's. Volunteers are always needed to fill this important and satisfying role.
The members of this committee are selected and invited to serve by the Rector and Vestry. They are responsible for communicating the importance of the annual Every Member Canvass, during which parishioners are asked to pledge their financial support to St. Matthew's.
St. Matthew's Connection
St. Matthew's Connection is dedicated to helping parishioners in their time of need. The volunteers carry out important acts to aid, sustain, and help our parish family. Cooks prepare and deliver meals to the homebound, including the sick, the bereaved and those just out of the hospital. Drivers provide transportation to church or doctor's appointments and by picking up prescriptions or provisions. Other volunteers rearrange the altar flowers to be delivered to ailing parishioners. There are always opportunities for more volunteers to become involved.
Members of the Welcome Commission take on the responsibility of supporting the clergy in welcoming and integrating newcomers into the St. Matthew's family. They visit and welcome newcomers with a homemade loaf of bread, and host parties for newcomers. In cooperation with the Volunteer Coordinators, Commission members help draw those newly arrived into active involvement in the St. Matthew's community. The Commission is always seeking new members to help with this important work.
Women of St. Matthew's
All female parishioners are members of the Women of St. Matthew's. Originally founded as a sewing group to provide clothing for soldiers during the Civil War, The Women of St. Matthew's has evolved into an important resource for our parish as well as for a number of local and regional community organizations. We are committed to doing Christ's work by serving the Church, our parish and our community. We strive to promote fellowship within the parish, and actively seek to assist with parish needs and to provide outreach support to community organizations.
We are able to fund our outreach activities through a number of fundraising avenues, the most significant of which is Art Show: Bedford. The show has become a local institution over the past thirty years and all of its proceeds are used to support outreach programs.
Our calendar is a full one. In addition to hosting the Blessing of the Pets and the Annual Parish Christmas Brunch, we are delighted to be able to work with other parish organizations on activities such as Spring and Fall Clean-Up, Maundy Thursday Supper, Mardi Gras and the Parish Picnic, to name a few. We are honored to provide hospitality to those visiting our parish and also enjoy providing assistance with the special events that make St. Matthew's so special. Our ongoing projects on behalf of the parish include coffee hour and the oversight of our wonderful library.
Recently, twenty-five acres of a wilderness preserve created by the estate of Mrs. Rainsford in memory of Arthur Ketchum called the Ketchum Sanctuary was added to the existing 40 acres of glebe land. This beautiful forest contains walks and trails, streams, bridges and benches. The volunteers who form the Woodlands Commission are responsible to the Rector and Vestry for the management of these lands. Their duties include producing the plans that manage the care of trees, maintaining the paths and trails, ensuring the repair of damaged bridges and addressing the effects of erosion.
The Volunteer Coordinator
The Volunteer Coordinators are selected by and report to the Rector. Their responsibilities are to liaise with the heads of all Committees and Commissions and determine vacancies and needs for volunteers. They seek to provide all members of St. Matthew's with opportunities for individual lay fellowship and service through volunteerism. Those who wish to volunteer their time, talents and experience for the benefit of the St. Matthew's family should contact them.
The Worship Commission headed by the Rector, is formed from the head of the committees and guilds that assists the clergy and Director of Music in planning and administering worship services. These include Altar Guild, Flower Committee, Choirs and those listed below. Their aims are to encourage and enhance the worship experiences of parishioners and visitors of St. Matthew's.
The Acolytes are middle and high school volunteers (grade 8-12) who, following a period of training, perform such liturgical duties as lighting candles, leading processions, assisting at the altar, and helping lead the congregation in the liturgy.
Lay Readers are licensed by the Diocese of New York to assist at services throughout the year. They assist the clergy by reading lessons and other liturgical material and helping with the distribution of the communion wine.
Lectors are volunteers who read the Old and New Testament during church services.
The ushers assist the congregation during services. Their duties are to greet worshipers, assist the frail, seat the congregation and hand out the service bulletin. They regulate the flow to the altar during Holy Communion and collect and count the offerings. They are available to assist in the case of emergency (some are CPR and first aid trained.) Volunteers are welcome.