St. Matthew’s has been a Project Home site for nearly two decades, providing shelter for families year after year. Now the church has signed on as an “anchor house of worship” with Opportunity Saint Paul. What’s driving this deep engagement with Interfaith Action?
“We are a congregation dedicated to ongoing discernment,” said the Rev. Dr. Blair Pogue, rector of St. Matthew’s. “We’re always wondering what the Holy Spirit is up to and how we might join up with the Spirit’s work to bring healing, new life, and reconciliation in the wider community.”
With Project Home, Pogue says volunteers have learned the power of listening. “By truly listening to our guests, we have learned so much. It’s a two-way relationship. We are not the saviors. A few years ago, a guest told us what he missed most while being homeless was barbecuing in his own backyard. Several members of my faith community scrambled to bring in a grill for him, and now this grilling night is a permanent part of what we do and one of the most fun and engaging times we share. Our guests make the issues real and increase our sense of urgency around addressing affordable housing.”
Last year, several members of St. Matthew’s participated in the pilot of Opportunity Saint Paul. Pogue said the experience was powerful for them and it made perfect sense to increase the church’s engagement this year. “This is a brilliant initiative. The partners with whom we volunteer are well vetted and the learning community events help us understand and be part of something larger. Most of my parishioners already volunteer in the community, but this program is different. It lets you do something weekly, but it also gives you opportunities to reflect on where you are meeting God and explore some of the important issues you are encountering in your volunteer work. You are making friends from different faith traditions, supporting each other, and working for the common good. This is a win-win initiative.”
St. Matthews Episcopal is located at 2136 Carter Avenue. For more information, visit stmatthewsmn.org.