About Us

St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church

The story of a church, any church, is not easily told. When people gather to worship and share their faith, to pray for the sick, to hope for the future, and maybe even to find their calling, the story invariably becomes complicated. St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church is no exception. Since 1833, St. Matthew’s has changed, grown, and evolved to become a thriving church community whose reach extends globally, and yet still maintains an active local presence. The story of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church is multi-faceted: it speaks of construction and funding, of passion and faith, of logistics and planning, but mostly, it’s a story of vision.

St. Matthew's Church Picnic

In 1833, when the first St. Matthew’s Church was built on what is now a corner of St. Matthew’s United Church of Christ’s cemetery, Lutheran and Reformed congregations shared the building and alternated services every other Sunday. This was common practice in Colonial Pennsylvania, but sharing soon proved too difficult, and in 1872, the vision to gather and grow the Lutheran faith community took hold. Lutherans from St. Matthew’s began planning their separation. The separation was amicable, and the Reformed congregation bought out their portion of the church, giving the Lutheran congregation $1,000, an organ, one stove, and half of the books in the library. In 1878, the cornerstone of a new, Gothic-style church was laid, and the foundation of a vibrant Lutheran community was established.

St. Matthew's Lutheran Church - Early 1900's

Since its official dedication on May 1, 1879, St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church has seen many changes. Ten of its original 18 ½ acres were sold by 1901, and a rededication was held to mark extensive church renovations, including new carpets, paint, and a new platform installation. In 1903, the parsonage was built. The congregation grew in strength and numbers and began reaching out to the entire community by starting yearly social events, such as the “Strawberry Social” in June, and the “Oyster Supper” in early autumn. From kerosene lamps, to gas lighting, to the eventual installation of electricity in 1929, St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church continued to adapt to their ever-changing environment. Improvements to the church often came from the generosity of its congregants: the stained glass memorial windows, “The Good Shepherd” and “Gethsemane,” were presented as gifts from two members of the congregation. The parsonage was remodeled in 1941 and from it water was piped into the church kitchen. In 1948, an artesian well was drilled close to the parsonage to provide a safe and reliable water supply for both the parsonage and the church. In 1981, the first woman pastor began her ministry, and in 1990, a computer was installed and the first church secretary worked from a newly installed trailer, as the parsonage was providing income as a rental property. More renovations came in 1991 and in 1995 and by 1998, the parsonage was also renovated to provide much needed space for staff and volunteers. The congregation grew by the hundreds, and with this new growth came a renewed vision. Now was the time to strengthen their commitment, to expand ministries, to continue to extend their welcome to the entire community, and to live the church’s new theme, “Making Room for Faith to Grow.”

St. Matthew's Parsonage - Early 1900's

So in 2001, the vision again alive, St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church embarked on its most ambitious project to date. The $1.7 million project would build, expand, and renovate the church to make room for their renewed congregation and their commitment to call all people into a community of faith. The sanctuary was literally turned around, a full 180 degrees, to add seating, additional entrances to the church, and a narthex for gathering before worship. The stained glass windows were cleaned and moved, and nearly 100 years since they had been donated, became a prominent feature in the narthex. A new building, the Christian Life Center (CLC) was added to provide meeting and social space, and by 2003, a new preschool and kindergarten opened its doors, providing an environment of caring and thoughtful learning. The school grew quickly and widely became known in the area as an exceptional learning environment.

The new wave of congregants and student families paved the way for St. Matthew’s to broaden its reach. It wouldn’t be long before St. Matthew’s would extend its arms…all the way to Africa. In 2007, the Africa Fund at St. Matthew’s was established and a massive effort was underway to help construct the Neema Orphanage Center in Kalali, Tanzania. St. Matthew’s House is now one of the largest dwellings at the Center which provides a safe, homelike environment for children who have lost both parents to the AIDS pandemic. Volunteers from St. Matthew’s congregation participate in yearly Vision Trips to the orphanage and come back to share these life changing experiences with congregants and the community. Children from the orphanage participate in a yearly exchange with children from St. Matthew’s Preschool and Kindergarten, trading crafts and greetings across the miles.

But changes were happening at home during this time, too. Outreach ministries continued to grow, as did the children of the congregation. Those who first attended the preschool were now growing into young adults, and they needed to feel that they, too, could be active members of this faith community. The vision was simple: create a space that would welcome those youth to gather and socialize in their church environment. In 2011, with that vision in mind, the congregation came together and the “Lounge” was born. This endeavor transformed the church basement to include a kitchen, two meeting rooms with state-of-the-art audio and visual capabilities, and plenty of areas to sit and meander. Young adults and older youth now had their own space to gather after church, while the younger children still participated in weekly Faith Formation classes.

For more than 180 years, St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church has led the way in extending their hands to those in need and continually growing in their faith. Their vision today remains simple, yet far-reaching, as expressed in both their “Mission” and “Vision Statements:”

Mission Statement

God calls St. Matthew’s congregation and community to
Be engaged in joyful service in God’s world through faith in Jesus Christ.


Vision Statement

We will commit ourselves through our time, talents and financial support to:

  • Put God’s Word into action.
  • Foster communication, in order to inform and connect people to ministry
  • Express God’s love and fulfill God’s mission by generously serving one another locally & globally.

Throughout its long history, St. Matthew’s Church has grown, changed, and reached out to the community and beyond. With a tenacious will to share God’s love as their guide, St. Matthew’s continues to expand its outreach efforts. Where will their vision take them next? What does the future hold for this historic church? If history teaches us anything, we know that whatever challenges lie ahead, they will be met…with faith, God’s guidance, and a shared vision.

St. Matthew
St. Matthew’s Congregation – Rally Day – September 14, 2014

By Nancy Repko

Tina Mackie

Pastor

I was called to St. Matthews in 2003 as the Associate Pastor. In 2013 I was called as the Senior Pastor. It has been a joy to serve in this congregation. I have my M. Div. from Palmer Seminary and completed my Lutheran year at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. David and I have two boys. Christopher lives in NYC and Brian lives in NJ. I spend my free time reading, walking and gardening.

Thaddeus Book

Pastor

I grew up on a farm outside of Harvard, Illinois, a small town outside of Chicago. I am the oldest of four kids (3 boys and 1 girl). The farm was a large part of my childhood. I bailed hay, walked pigs, and performed about any chore that needed to be done. My dad and youngest brother continue to farm around 2000 acres. I went to MacMurray College in Illinois and played football and studied business. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology from Valparaiso University where I met my wife Laura while working as a Lutheran camp counselor, and later graduated from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in the fall of 2005. I enjoy running (most of the time), playing all sorts of sports, enjoying the Green Bay Packers and suffering through Chicago Cubs seasons. I love reading all kinds of books, traveling with my wife, and spoiling our puggle, Lilly. We recently welcomed our first child, Lincoln, and our life has never been the same...in so many wonderfully strange ways.

Sandy Elkins

School Director

I have been a member of St. Matthew's since 1996 with my husband Bill and daughter Katie. I’ve been involved in many areas of the church, but I feel called to outreach and children’s ministries. When the school opened in 2003 I was blessed to be chosen to run the program. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education from West Chester University. My first love is the children at St. Matthew's, but when I am home I enjoy gardening and cooking.

David Mackie

Worship Director

I have been attending St. Matthew’s for more than 15 years and have been supporting the music program since 2004. While my background is in corporate communications and change management my passion has always been music. I play organ, piano and guitar and sing at St. Matthew’s and currently have a book of piano music published by Augsburg Fortress press.

Audrey Subhan

Administrator

I started as Administrator at St. Matthew’s in October, 2014 after moving back to my hometown of Phoenixville after living in Asheville, NC. I grew up attending the First Presbyterian Church singing in the choir with a mission trip to Nicaragua as one of the highlights as a member of the congregation. I am the mother of two young adults, James and Brooke. In my spare time, I love to cook, travel and work with animal rescue organizations.

Sheila Lanzalotto

Director of Youth Ministry

I am the new Joint Director of Youth Ministry at St Matthew's and St Paul's Lutheran churches. I have lived in the Downingtown area with my husband and our four children, since 2006. Prior to that time I lived in Worcester, about 45 minutes away. I spent most of my working life in the Finance field, but have been volunteering my time with Youth since graduating from the University of Delaware. In the last several years I have felt God calling me to make a greater commitment to Youth, and the rest is history. I love reading, walking biking and watching all kinds of sports (my competitive playing days are behind me). I also enjoy museums, theater and music. For more information on the youth program see the joint youth facebook page St Matthew's/St Paul's Youth Group

Drew Aramany

Finance

My wife (Allison) and I joined the church in 2005. We have 3 small children (Andrew, Lily, and Madelyn) who all attended St. Matthews Preschool. I serve as the council Finance Chair and I serve as a faith formation instructor. I enjoy spending time outdoors with my family. My profession is a Wealth Management Advisor at Merrill Lynch.

James Davis

Property

I joined the church in 2001. My wife Alissa and children, James Jr, Charles, and Kristen, are all active participants in Faith Formation. My profession is managing a local general contracting company and I have always had an interest in buildings and facilities so there is a natural affinity towards property management, so you will always see me with one eye on the needs of the church building.

Colleen DeBerardinis

Member

I became a member in 2013 with my husband Fran and two children, Jackie and June. Both daughters attended St. Matthew's Preschool and thankfully gave us an opportunity to frequent the church and get to know the wonderful congregation. It’s a joy to sing on Sundays with the worship band and get to sing and enjoy the friendships of the women choir group. I look forward to participating on the council!

Sue Giacoponello

Member

I became a member in 2000. I’ve been part of the faith formation team for 14 years, and I’ve enjoyed attending the annual women’s retreats over the years as well. I am delighted to be a new member of council - I look forward to giving back to the St. Matthew’s community, which has been such a blessing to me and my family over the years.

I live in rural East Nantmeal Township with my husband, Chris, and our three teenage sons. I took several years off from my engineering career to stay home with my boys, and I’ve recently returned to the workforce as a finance manager for a software company. In my spare time I enjoy reading, walking, and nature.

John Lueders

Technology

I have been a member since 2008. My passion and profession is programming. On Sundays, you may find me in the back of the sanctuary running the powerpoint. Stop by and say 'Hi'.

Jeanne Maugle

Member

My family became members in 1997. On Sunday mornings you will see me up front singing. I also enjoy reading, working out, and cooking anything without corn (ha ha, because I'm allergic).

Ed Mourar

Treasurer

I became a member in 2007. St Matthew’s has been a great place for me and my family (Dawn, Logan, Nate, and Andrew). All three of my son have or will be confirmed here. I've supported all the external church events and enjoyed being a member of the Good Works team. I enjoy skiing, hiking, kayaking, (pretty much anything outdoors), and traveling.

Eric Ramsey

President

I have been a member since 2000. I’ve served as a faith formation teacher, youth leader, and a member of the last two call committees. My wife (Nicole) and I were married and have had both of our children (Paige & Ellen) baptized at St. Matthew's. I enjoy outdoor activities and spending time with family and friends.

Louise Rutledge

Vice President

My husband and I became members in 2000. I've served as a blood drive coordinator, a faith formation teacher, and a member of the Good Works team. I enjoy reading, walking, and spending time with family and friends.

Louise joined council on January 25, 2015.