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

Pastor Paul Townsend

Interim Pastor

Hello St. Matthews. I have just begun the transition ministry with you, beginning Wednesday February 10. I look forward to being among you and serving our Lord in your midst. My continuing goal is to praise and worship God, serving the needs of God’s people in a challenging era. I will serve in all the ways you expect a pastor to serve, being available for pastoral care and support. Together, our end goal, which we will accomplish as quickly and as thoroughly as possible, will be to call and install St. Matthew’s next pastor. Together we will continue to engage in joyful service in God’s world through faith in Jesus Christ by doing the following, as it says in our Vision Statement: +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 locally & globally. Let me tell you about myself. I was born to missionary parents in Argentina, where I lived for 11 of my first 13 years. (Yes, I speak fluent Argentine Spanish.) We returned to the US to North Carolina, my parents’ home state, where I completed high school and college. I worked in ‘the real world’ for 2 years and then entered seminary (pastor graduate school) in Columbia, South Carolina. I completed my yearlong internship in Washington D. C. My first 10 years in ministry were served in North Carolina and in 1992 we moved to Delaware County to serve in a transition ministry setting. Between 1992 and 2009 I served in 10 different transitional ministry positions, serving in each of the 5 counties of the Philadelphia metropolitan area. I served in interims and redevelopments, in short and long-term ministries. Along the way I received the appropriate training to complete the tasks. In 2009 I was called as the settled pastor at Zion Lutheran, Spring City from where I retired in 2020. Though I am retired, I agreed to lead congregations in short-term and part-time positions for the next couple of years. Thus, I am among you at St. Matthew’s. My wife, Carol, and I have been married for 31 years and are the proud parents of 4 children, between the two of us, and grandparents of 3 good looking boys. After teaching special education students for 40 years , Carol is now retired and enjoying reading, cooking, and spending time with grandsons, when it is possible. We enjoy listening to live music and travelling, both of which we are looking forward to doing it as soon as possible. Your companion in Ministry, Pastor Paul

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.

Craig Miller

Youth Director

I was born and raised in Montgomery County, PA, a proud graduate of Lower Merion High School. (Yes, that is Kobe Bryant’s alma mater. No, he and I did not attend LMHS at the same time – that distinction goes to my brother Eric.) Having had a grandfather who was a pastor and a mother who is a church organist, it is almost literally true to say that I grew up in the church! My faith roots run deep, and I have great appreciation for the history and heritage of the Lutheran church, but I also love to learn about and experience new ways that people are finding to express their faith, and see how God is continually bringing renewal to the body of Christ (and to me!). I have spent most of my adult life serving in youth and family ministries in one capacity or another, either as a paid staff member or a volunteer leader. After graduating from Juniata College, I did what many liberal arts majors did and went into retail to pay the bills. I also became part of the volunteer leadership team for the youth group at the congregation where I belonged, a pattern that continued after I moved to Rochester, New York to take a new job. Just a few short years later, I heard God’s call to return to this area to serve Calvary Lutheran Church in West Chester as Director of Youth Ministry. I served there for seven years, followed by a twelve-year dive into the realm of higher education administration at Eastern University and the University of Valley Forge. I’m thrilled to be back doing what I love to do most, where I find my heart’s joy. When I’m taking a break and recharging my batteries, you will often find me engaged in photography, music, woodworking, hiking, or bicycling.

Paula Reese

Administrator

I first started with St. Matthew's as the school secretary in 2010. A few years later, I began teaching four year olds in the afternoons. This past March, I switched over to work as the church administrator, and will be fortunate enough to continue teaching in the afternoons during the school year. I grew up at the beach in NJ, which ingrained in me a love for the ocean and sea air so my family and I try to visit there as often as possible. When I am not at work, I enjoy cooking, baking, walking, movies, reading and traveling with my husband and our three daughters.

Daniel Bower

Music Director

Howdy! I’ve been here at St. Matthew’s since June 2018. Music & Family are my life. My wife Elise & I live in Phoenixville with our sons Harvey and Levon. I grew up in Lansdowne then went to Delaware County Community College and Philadelphia Community College where I studied liberal arts, communications & audio engineering in addition to studying with great music teachers in & around Philadelphia. I’ve been a musician professionally since 2001. When not performing or directing I work in the recording studio & run a children’s music program. I love being a family man and I love working. Otherwise you’ll find me in the woods or on my bike :)

Mary Kwiatkowski

President

I’ve been a member of Saint Matthews since 2010 when my son attended the preschool. I was a faith formation teacher for several years, have led different bible studies and other adult spiritual education and have been a leader at the annual woman’s retreat for the last 7 years. I live with my husband, Jeremy, my two sons, Andrew and Matthew and our dog, Frodo. I currently work in the activities department at Manatawny Manor. In my spare time I enjoy reading, traveling, spending time with friends and in nature, cooking, and arts and crafts.

Bob McDevitt

Finance

I joined St. Matthews in 2005 with my wife, Kathy and children, Emily, John, and Kelly. Since 2014 I've led our Food Pantry mission, been a member of our Outreach ministry and assisted with services (A/V, altar, fellowship, and greeter). I retired from BNY Mellon in 2020 where I led teams in web/voice development and core architecture. I previously served as treasurer for the Gymnastics Parent's Organization in support of the Phoenixville YMCA team. I've been active in Boy Scouts with my son since 2006, serving in various leadership roles including Quartermaster, Scoutmaster and currently mentor Life to Eagle candidates as well as serve on the Horseshoe Trail District Committee. I enjoy travel, music, sports, backpacking and carpentry.

Meghan Comegys

Vice President

I became a member in 2006 along with my husband, Rodney, and older daughter, Mackenzie. My younger daughter, Callie, was born in 2007 and was baptized at St. Matthew's. I have been a faith formation teacher in various capacities for 8 years and both my daughters are active participants in faith formation and the youth programs. After living in Australia for 3 years (2014-2017), I was happy to return home to St. Matthew's and began serving on council in 2018. I enjoy walking, hiking, reading, watching my daughters play basketball, playing with our dog, Lani, and spending time with family and friends.

Eva Tietjen

Secretary

My family and I became members of St. Matthews in 2010. I remember listening to the beautiful and energizing music in the service and my family and I knew immediately that St. Matthews was the church we wanted to make our second home. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly.
I live in the North Coventry area with my husband, Roy. We have three grown children, Krista, Alexa and Preston, who now reside in New York. We also have two Portuguese water dogs, one French bulldog, goats, hens, plenty of fish and a pet dove, Dulcinea. So, while our children are no longer around, we are kept busy by our wonderful animals.
I manage a customer service and logistics departments for a local manufacturing company. I enjoy reading, cooking, travelling, listening to music, herb gardening and spending precious time with family and friends.

Don Hummerston

Property

Bio coming soon

Jennifer Burgess

Member

I became a member of St. Matthews in 2016, when our family moved to Chester Springs. We felt immediate warmth and kindness from everyone we met, and have been enriched by becoming part of the St. Matthew's family.

I live in Chester Springs with my husband, Brian, and our two elementary-school aged kids, Braelyn and Brody. My background is in Public Health, and I currently lead a Communications & Public Relations team for a BioPharmaceutical organization based in Conshohocken. As a family, we love to work around our house and travel (likely somewhere hot!) We spend a lot of free time on the sidelines of soccer fields, basketball courts, and gymnastic mats.

Desiree Lee

Member

My name is Desiree Lee and I live in Chester Springs. I have a husband, Bob, and two sons Austin (18) and Brandon (15). Bob and I both grew up in Southern California but moved to Illinois for a year when the boys were young. We have now lived in Chester Springs for 12 years. I worked in various office positions such as Office Manager, Paralegal, and Sr. Claims Adjuster for many years until I became a full time Mom (best job ever). I started working at local preschools as my children grew up. Currently, I am a Co-Teacher for a 3 year old class and a Nanny for a local family. I also like to organize activities with my friends such as Bingo, Glassblowing and Horseback Riding.
We joined St. Matthew's when Pastor Chad was here. I started helping with Sunday School then went on to start the St. Matthew's Garden since I like to be a Helper. As a family we cook dinner for the Sunday Dinners on a rotating basis. Bob and Brandon are the cooks, Austin and I are the go-phers. We have been blessed to be a part of the many activities here at St. Matthew's and have gotten to know so many members as well as the Pastors and other leaders. Every time we bring our family members, from CA, to church they really enjoy the church service, especially the Christmas service. I do enjoy going to church for the sermon and songs, etc. but I also enjoy seeing all the familiar faces and getting to catch up with members at Fellowship.
Unfortunately, I don't know all of you so if you see me or another unfamiliar face, give a wave and introduce yourself. I would love to get to know you!
1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Robert Unger

Member

I grew up in Whitehall, PA and went to Catholic school my entire life. I graduated from DeSales University with a Bachelor's of Science in Marketing.
I worked in the hydraulics industry for 12 years, eventually becoming a hydraulics engineer and a product manager.
I made the switch to pharmaceutical data analytics and am still working in that industry. Currently, I am a senior business consultant for the second largest data analytics company in the US.
Greta and I have been married over 20 years and have resided in Chester Springs for 17 years. Our daughter Jillian is in second grade. We've been members of St. Matthew's for about 12 years.
We all enjoy spending time with our family and friends, traveling, music, working out and having fun.

Troy Sisum

Member

We joined the St. Matthews family in 2012, shortly before the birth of our oldest son. Our two children were baptized at St. Matthews and have attended preschool and kindergarten here. My wife, Diana, is active in the preschool and faith formation. You can usually find one or both of us helping to support various missions of this wonderful church community.
I am currently chief legal counsel for a healthcare services company located in Chester County, PA. In my free time, I love doing home improvement projects, vegetable gardening, cooking, sports and travel.

Jim Shrimp

Member

Bio coming soon....