St. Matthew's Episcopal

History

Brief History of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church; Sunbury, Pa.

Our history begins around 1812. At that time various ministers from around the area started to come to Sunbury to hold services for the local Episcopalians. The services where held in the old Zion Lutheran Church. At one point, the Episcopalian congregation asked the Court of Northumberland County for permission to use the jury room for a Sunday School. Permission was granted and the first Sunday School was started in 1820. This was the first Sunday School of any church group in, what was then, the Borough of Sunbury.

In 1826 a visiting priest from Bloomsburg used his influence on a group of members from the congregation to begin to establish a parish. A vestry was formed and the Articles of Incorporation were drafted on April 24, 1827. The cornerstone of the church was laid on September 2, 1834 and the building was completed and dedicated on December 7, 1836. The dedication was administered by the second Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania. The church was small, 50 foot long and 32 foot wide, but, served the parish well.

Through the years several additions were made, including a Sunday School room. Then on October 10, 1886, with the congregation rolls expanding, the cornerstone was laid for a new church on the spot of the old church and was completed in 1894. This is the church that we use today and of which we take great pride. Its design is typically Anglican and the nave, transepts and chancel are laid in the form of the cross and there are numerous beautiful stained glass windows that have been donated through the years by generous members. Over time various additions and numerous repairs and renovations have taken place.

The oldest societies at St. Matthew’s Church, of which there is any record, are The Parish Aid Society, St. Mary’s Guild and The Woman’s Auxiliary. The Parish Aid Society, which began in late 1880, was an offspring of the so called “Mite Society” that was organized by the faithful women of our church. St. Mary’s Guild had its inception around 1897 and was organized to fill a need by the younger church women to support various projects. The Woman’s Auxiliary was organized in 1900 to provide missionary outreach support. Their yearly boxes of pledges continue today as the United Thank Offering. Of course, as in all Anglican churches throughout its history, there has always been the Vestry, which is involved with the operation of the church and which continues to this day.

St. Matthew’s has had other organizations through the years; such as, St. Matthew’s Guild, The Friday Nite Club, Troop No. 4 – Girl Scouts , Troop No. 4 – Boy Scouts, and The Pi-Alpha Society, but none of these exist today. Various organizations and groups that do exist today at St. Matthew’s are: the Episcopal Church Women (ECW), the Altar Guild, Lay Ministry, Acolytes, Prayer Chain, Parish Life Committee, the Building Committee, the Men’s Breakfast Club, the Music Committee and St. Matthew’s YGIF youth group.

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