The Pastor's Windshield for June 2024

Last year, St. Matthew was blessed to celebrate its 25th year of ministry, but did you know that 2024 also marks an important milestone for the congregation? It has been ten years since St. Matthew purchased and moved to our current property on Farris Road in Conway.

Prior to that purchase, St. Matthew had a “nomadic” existence in its first 15 years. The congregation’s first worship service was held at Faulkner County Library in 1998. Then, in the years that followed, the congregation gathered at various rented spaces, including at UCA, a property on Morningside Drive, Hendrix College, and Olympia Plaza on East Oak Street.

When the former Advent Lutheran Church, a congregation of the ELCA, disbanded, St. Matthew was presented with the opportunity to own its own property and have a more permanent house of worship. St. Matthew dedicated its new building on November 30, 2014. 

A lot has happened in those 10 years, including pastoral turnover, both the departures and the arrivals of dozens of members, and the pandemic with all its effects on Church life. Suddenly (it seems!), St. Matthew has already called Farris Road home for a decade. Along with that, this building is nearing thirty years of age, as Advent constructed it in 1995. (A rendering of the property from the mid ‘90s is shown above.)

As we consider these anniversaries, we also give thanks that we are steadily progressing toward another important milestone: paying off the congregation’s mortgage. After selling some land on East German Lane, last year’s debt reduction Sunday, and ongoing donations and payments toward our debt, St. Matthew now owes less than $100,000 on its mortgage. We also plan to hold another debt reduction Sunday this fall. Lord willing, the church can be debt free within just a couple years!

Because of the aging nature of St. Matthew’s property, our upkeep and maintenance needs will continue to increase in the coming years. Over time, both critical infrastructure and things of a more cosmetic nature will need to be replaced or updated. This will require more involvement from the men and women of the congregation to keep on top of these property improvements.

At our upcoming voter’s meeting (on Sunday, June 30 after the service), we will be discussing some of our current and future property needs. Among the more pressing needs are the formation of a new property committee, identifying additional volunteers to create a rotation for lawn work, and identifying a volunteer to coordinate the replacement of the stained-glass window in the sanctuary. (Although the window is a beautiful feature in our worship space, unfortunately due to structural deficiencies, its replacement is necessary.) The involvement of both long-term and newer members will be needed and appreciated with these efforts.

In closing, let’s remember that a church building is something neither to be idolized nor to be neglected. It should not become the total focus of a church’s energy and resources, yet it should be stewarded with care. In a church building like St. Matthew’s, souls are baptized, the Word of God is preached, taught, and discussed, the body and blood of Christ are received for our forgiveness, God’s people gather to support one another, and much more. Mindful of those blessings, we say with the Psalmist, “O LORD, I love the habitation of Your house and the place where Your glory dwells!” (Ps. 26:8)

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Kory Janneke