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Matthew Marks 200

Capping off a year-long celebration

Photographs by Jack Goldberg

Celebrations at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church have always been big—Teddy Roosevelt attended the church’s centennial in 1910. This year, St. Matthew’s celebrated its bicentennial with a variety of activities, all leading up to a grand culmination on the weekend of October 17.

There was an all-parish picnic; a guided walk in the Ketchum Preserve; and a jamboree concert featuring a cappella groups from Brown, Yale, Vassar, Trinity, and Middlebury colleges. There was also an exhibit and talk held in conjunction with Allan Weinreb, curator at the John Jay Homestead. Jay, whose Huguenot forebears had sought religious freedom, was a founder of St. Matthew’s and provided funds for its construction.

A special service, featuring the Rt. Rev. Mark Sisk, Episcopal Bishop of New York, celebrated the church’s consecration. Afterwards, a brunch was served by the Women of St. Matthew’s. Church rector Rev. Terry Elsberry said, “We are celebrating all the years of faithful and devoted service the church has given to the community.”

Finally, a grand dinner-dance for 200 was held under a capacious tent. Co-chairs for the milestone event were Roger Vincent and Mary Farley. “For me, the highlights were the consecration of the sanctuary celebration with music from Mozart’s ‘Coronation Mass’ and the ‘Tableaux Vivants,’” Vincent said. “Our Sunday School children performing the history of St. Matthew’s, beginning with the 22 settlers and Indians present in 1680—what could be more precious?” He praised the efforts of Linda de Menocal, a former warden of the church, now head of the church school, who directed the children.

St. Matthew’s is proud of its history and the role it played in America’s fight for freedom—soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War lie in the church cemetery. “We’re all very conscious of being stewards of something that has been going on for a long time and passing it along to the next generation,” Farley said.

Vincent noted that the church’s excellent records was a key factor in the success of the bicentennial event. “Good records were kept all along the way. A history was done for the centennial, so we now have two different church histories covering two different time frames,” he said. In his sermon, Rev. Elsberry remarked that while the church treasures its history, its eye is on the future—one filled with faith and optimism.

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