St. Matthew UCC strives to share the love of Jesus Christ with all of God’s children. Imitating the ministry of Jesus, we seek to minister in practical ways to assist the poor and homeless, the elderly and the infirmed, the grieving and the lonely, the powerless and the forgotten. In serving God’s people, St. Matthew UCC helps both locally and globally, wherever God calls to go; partners with community, ecumenical and UCC-related ministries that reflect the goals of St. Matthew UCC; engages in ministry unique to our vision; and offers assistance appropriate to the situation, whether through money, labor or leadership.
E.S.S.E.: Ecumenical Support Service for the Elderly (E.S.S.E.) is an adult day care center which provides ecumenically Christian care for the elderly persons in the Wheaton area. Its goal is to provide an environment which preserves their dignity, recognizes their gifts of wisdom and experience, enables them to grow and to be their best, while promoting their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. We support E.S.S.E. through financial aid, volunteering our time, and hosting activities.
P.A.D.S: DuPage P.A.D.S. Inc. is a not-for-profit organization which provides safe and hospitable shelter, support services and advocacy for the homeless people in collaboration with religious and community groups in DuPage County. There is a day site in Wheaton where the homeless can keep warm, have lunch, do laundry, receive employment counseling while searching for a job, and other counseling on health, housing and legal issues, etc.
St. Matthew has supported the P.A.D.S. program and its growth for over a decade. Our specific commitment is with the Emergency Shelter Program which is held in approximately twenty congregations throughout the county with about ninety additional congregations providing support in the form of volunteers, food, and laundry/clean-up. The program has approximately 4,000 volunteers which is the largest volunteer group in the country.
On the second Wednesday of the month, September through May, we sponsor the program at Peace Lutheran Church in Lombard and provide a full homemade dinner, prepare beds for sleeping, make lunches for those who require them, and supply a full breakfast. There are usually 60 volunteers from our church that participate in the program each month for the seven months it is held each year. In addition, some of our members volunteer at the P.A.D.S. day site.
St. Matthew UCC supports two food pantries, the Interfaith Food Pantry and People’s Resource Center, with contributions of food items and financial aid. Both of these non-profit organizations serve the needy in DuPage county by providing food and other support. We collect and donate food items on the first Sunday of each month. In addition, the St. Matthew UCC Shopping Cart Brigade pushes shopping carts in various formations in the 4th of July parade while collecting food items and donations along the parade route.
Marian Park is a low-income housing community managed by Mercy Housing, located nearby on Roosevelt Road. With about 210 residences and 450-500 fluctuating members of Caucasian, African American, Asian and Hispanic origins, the families and senior citizens pay a percentage of their income as rent with about 90% of them being employed. Often they are recent immigrants, some single parents and may have health problems which have left them in need of financial assistance.
Every now and then, members of St. Matthew UCC will come serve and eat dinner with Marian Park families. During the Christmas season, St. Matthew creates a “Christmas Store” for residents of Marian Park. Church members choose items to donate from a “Giving Tree,” and these household items are then available for “purchase” by members of the Marian Park community. Items stocked in the “Christmas Store” include household cleaning supplies, personal care products, diapers and paper products, which are not eligible to be purchased under the federal SNAP program.
As a church focused on the environment, we received an Earth Flag, a designation by SCARCE (School & Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education), on April 23, 2017. This signifies our commitment as a people of faith to care for the planet. We use environmentally safe cleaning products and room deodorizers, recycle our paper and trash, use dishware for our coffee hours instead of paper plates and Styrofoam cups, and have converted our lighting fixtures to LEDs. In our effort to be good stewards of the planet and take responsibility for a part of our community, St. Matthew has adopted a 1-mile stretch of the Main Branch of the Illinois Prairie Path. This section begins in downtown Wheaton at West Street and extends east to President Street. A sign has been posted at the start of our mile crediting us with the clean-up! We must pick up trash/debris from this section of the path a minimum of four times by November 1st.
Meals on Wheels
St. Matthew UCC helps deliver meals to local senior citizens on Mondays and Fridays.
Sleep Out Saturday
Sleep Out Saturday raises funds and awareness to help homeless families in DuPage County through Bridge Communities, a four-star Charity Navigator organization. On the first Saturday in November, friends and families are invited to join the St. Matthew youth group, Crazies, as we rally with the Sleep Out Saturday community, eat soup, play games, and sleep outside in cardboard boxes.
Feed My Starving Children
Each year, a large group of St. Matthew members—adults and children—participate in a Feed My Starving Children event. Feed My Starving Children provides food to hungry children around the world, driven by donations and volunteers that hand-pack the meals.
St. Matthew UCC has a team each year in the local Crop Hunger Walk in Glen Ellyn to fight against the challenges of disease, disaster, displacement and other concerns that leave people hungry. We help raise funds to help our neighbors near and far get the meals they need.
Growing Hope Globally
Growing Hope Globally (formally Foods Resource Bank) engages volunteers to raise money for 50+ overseas programs a year. All the programs focus on developing small-holder agriculture, often in the most remote and poorest regions of the world. We see agriculture as the solution to hunger experienced in much of the world. St. Matthew UCC sponsors acreage in Forrest, Illinois, which will be planted, harvested and 100% of the proceeds used to help poor areas in the world learn how to grow crops to sustain themselves. This is not a handout but a hand-up.
Although St. Matthew UCC is an independent and self-governing church, it is part of the United Church of Christ (UCC) denomination. Clearly, our mission dollars for remote mission activity (state, national, or overseas) can be spend more effectively if they are pooled with those of the other churches through an organization such as the UCC. Thus, we participate actively with UCC components – The Fox Valley Association, the Illinois Conference, and program activities of our national church body.
Of particular note at the national level are the Board of Homeland Ministries, whose mission and work is concerned primarily within the United States, and the Board of World Ministries which handles all overseas missions and service. Other important bodies of the UCC include the Coordinating Center for Women, the Office for the Church in Society, the Office for Church Life and Leadership, and the Commission for Racial Justice.
More than one-half of our mission fund is allocated to Our Church’s Wider Mission (OCWM), of which 57 percent used by the Illinois Conference (including FVA) and 43 percent is sent to the national office. Special Offerings and occasional designated gifts supplement the annual amount budgeted to OCWM. St. Matthew UCC believes that participation in OCWM is a significant outreach function.
There are many ways to get involved serving the members of our own church community. Contact us with any questions on the below congregational missions or for more information on how to get involved.
In February, St. Matthew UCC starts our care package collection for our St. Matthew UCC military and college students. If you have a family or friend in the military and/or a college student please send Susan Wold their name and address. All are welcome to donate to the care packages. A list with care package suggestions will be in the narthex by the collection box.
Crazies Work Crew
The St. Matthew UCC youth group, crazies, loves to volunteer. If you need help with simple projects such as, moving furniture, painting, weeding, or raking leaves, please email the youth director. We’ll try to get a group of students together to help you out.
There are many committees available at church and ways to share your talents: Building, Digital/IT, Endowment, Investment, Staff Relations and Stewardship.
There are many ways to get involved in the in-person worship at St. Matthew. We are always looking for children acolytes, greeters, scripture readers and ushers.
Every year, members of St. Matthew UCC go to Biloxi, Mississippi to help with Back Bay Mission. This mission works to provide justice for the marginalized living on the Gulf Coast. One thing Back Bay Mission does is buy foreclosures with grant money they get from the city. Then Back Bay Mission, through their volunteer work camp program, fixes up the houses to be easily maintainable and energy efficient. Because of the grants and the volunteer work, the houses are then able to be sold to people who qualify through the city at low mortgages.
St. Matthew will be sending a group of volunteers to Biloxi, Mississippi in Fall 2022 to work with Back Bay Mission.
The cost for the trip is $250 per person, which covers the cost of accommodations (dormitory style) in the volunteer Mission house on the Back Bay campus. If you are interested or would like to know more about the trip, look for the sign-up sheet in the narthex or contact the office.
In addition to our work on the houses, we also volunteer in the Micah Center, a day site for the homeless, as well as at the food pantry, Loaves and Fishes, in order to get the whole experience of what Back Bay Mission does.
Starting in 2013, St. Matthew UCC has spent a week for a few summers in Costa Rica building houses. The most recent Costa Rica trip was in June 2018. We built a house in Nosara and the group had an opportunity to learn about the people of Costa Rica. After working hard all week, we were able to do a little sightseeing as well. For information on the next Costa Rica mission trip, please contact our office.
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
In June 2011, a group from St. Matthew UCC went to San Pedro Sula, Honduras to build a wall around the Guzman family home. The Guzman family is very special to St. Matthew UCC since meeting them in 2001. The wall was needed to ensure safety for Catalina and her three children Claudeth, Cynthia, Daniel Tito and granddaughter Brittney.
Youth Mission Trip
Every summer the high school and college Crazies go on a Boundary Waters or mission trip. The mission trips in the past have been within the US and are usually construction oriented. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about or interest in a future trip.