By Emily Willis
Join your friends and neighbors in the community of Todd for a re-dedication ceremony of a local treasure, St. Matthews Church, at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23.
This longstanding historic church will enjoy new life as a place for the community to share after a long process of transition facilitation by the nonprofit group Friends of St. Matthews Church.
Sunday’s ceremony will give guests a chance to see this beautiful gem on the inside and will be led by the Rev. Cindy Banks. Also, the Friends board will discuss the intentions, restoration and preservation of the property, as well as its place in the community.
St. Matthew’s Chapel, located on highway 194 in Todd, has not been in use for many years. The church is an important part of community’s heritage and there is widespread interest in restoring and preserving it for the community. The Friends of St. Matthew’s are spearheading efforts to clean up and restore the church. Although some work has begun, there is more to be done. Learn how you can help at Friends of St. Matthew’s.
Although there is still history about the chapel that remains uncovered, Helen Barnes-Rielly, the owner of the nearby Todd Mercantile, says:
“A pastor and a few others came to this area in the mid-1800s to escape malaria and they began the church. During the 1900s, St. Matthews was a very active church, but in the past 50 years, there have been few failed attempts at increasing the activity of the church.
“It has been a long process to turn the chapel over to the community. There was a non-profit organization created last year to run the process, because it’s such a long process and the repairs are so costly. The current repairs that the Friends of the chapel are working on are the roof, porches, and grounds. They have already cleaned the grounds of the chapel, but the roof is in dire need of repairs. Also, the porches need numerous repairs. One of the repairs to the porches include making it handicap accessible.”
The Friends of St. Matthews Chapel invite you to imagine ways that the church can become useful to the greater Todd area and community.
“The church will become a place for the community to come together. It will be rented out for weddings and hold community events, like outside concerts and art fairs,” said Barnes-Reilly. “But, it is important to keep in mind that St. Matthews will still be recognized as a place of prayer, even though there will not be any church services held.”
At the ceremony this Sunday, there will be music by Cliff Waddell, whose music you can find on Facebook. Also, there will be a pot luck dinner following the ceremony. Everyone is encouraged to bring a covered dish and share in a beautiful fall afternoon, celebrating St. Matthews, its past, present, and exciting future.