Service in the Community

The Social Ministries Committee meets the first Thursday every other month to assist the parish in responding to the needs of others in our community.  

Our newest opportunity for service:

The Northern Orange Initiative on Poverty group that began as on outreach of the Social Ministries Committee has reached a point where they are changing their focus. Instead of having faith groups and NGOs and Orange County government groups come together to discuss poverty issues, they are now going out into the communities in the country to learn what the areas need. Lynden Harris will teach facilitators to go out to churches in the northern part of the county and encourage church members and others in that community to come together for conversation about their needs. Groups will be invited to share their concerns, history and other information in a “story-telling” fashion. St Matthew’s Social Ministries Committee and 1st Baptist Church are funding this training. If you are interested in learning how to be a facilitator and then leading sessions on storytelling, contact Allan Parnell.

Currently, St. Matthew’s participates in the following activities in and around Hillsborough.

  • Orange Congregations in Mission:  OCIM is a non-profit ministry composed of over forty churches in northern Orange County which strives to meet the emergency needs of those who find themselves in crisis situations.  St. Matthew’s participates by providing support through the annual budget, special appeals, and by providing beef stew for their pantry.  In February, St. Matthew’s also runs a “Fill the Bag” campaign.  Parishioners take a large grocery bag that has been labeled with the items needed.  Bags are filled, returned to the church, and delivered to OCIM.   
  • Orange/Alamance Prison Ministry  St. Matthew’s Church participates in this ecumenical ministry to support the work of a chaplain and volunteers in our local prison, as well as working with inmates who are scheduled for release. 
  • Cameron Park School Partnership:  This partnership is a community-based program designed to enhance and celebrate the historical and environmental significance of the setting of our neighboring elementary school.
  • Orange County Schools: we provide camp scholarship and school supplies
  • Durham Technical Institute:  a St. Matthew’s Scholarship
  • Family Success Alliance
  • LEAP
  • Anathoth Community Garden & Farm: Healing divisions between neighbors and the land by growing food together in Cedar Grove, NC. Their work began in 2004 when in response to a nearby murder a local woman, Scnobia Taylor, donated five acres of land to Cedar Grove United Methodist Church. They take their name, Anathoth, from a Biblical passage where the prophet Jeremiah summons the Israelites to “plant gardens” and “seek the peace of the city” in response to violence (Jeremiah 29).”We envision people of faith engaging with root causes of violence, poverty, and malnutrition in rural communities by working collaboratively to create a more just, sustainable, and equitable food system.Our mission is to heal divisions between neighbors and the land by growing food together in Cedar Grove, NC.We do this by:* Growing and distributing sustainably-raised vegetables through a sliding-scale Community Supported Agriculture program
    • Teaching adult interns agrarian theology and equipping them to heal divisions in their own communities
    • Employing local teenagers, including some with a history as juvenile offenders
    • Fostering community by facilitating workdays, potlucks, worship services, and celebrations”
  • Fairview Community Garden & Gateway
  • Orange County Rural Ministry (OCRA)
  • Efland Alliance
  • Johnson Service Corps
  • Dickerson Chapel AME:  In 2006, St. Matthew’s began an intentional ministry partnership with our neighboring African-American congregation, Dickerson Chapel, AME (located at the corner of Queen and Churton Streets in Hillsborough).
  • Habitat for Humanity:  St. Matthew’s regularly participates in Habitat for Humanity builds in Orange County.
  • Iglesia El Buen Pastor: St. Matthew’s partners with other Episcopal churches in the Durham Convocation to support our Spanish-speaking mission congregation in East Durham. Our long-time former deacon, The Rev. Katherine Bradley Johnson is serving there now.
  • Festival for the Society Tree:  FeST is a holiday fund-raiser exhibiting the rich history of our church and harnessing the creative and artistic talents of the parish to raise funds for outreach projects in keeping with the Millennium Development Goals.  Held the first weekend of December.


An important part of St. Matthew’s ongoing ministry in the community is to provide meeting space for programs that serve important needs. St. Matthew’s currently hosts the following programs on a weekly basis:

Alcoholics Anonymous: For over 40 years, a group has been meeting at St. Matthew’s regularly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings at 8:00 p.m. in the Hayden Building Fellowship Hall. 

St. Matthew’s also hosts occasional meetings and events for diocesan and community groups including the following:

Justice United, Anathoth Community Garden, the Commission on Ministry & Standing Committee of the Diocese, Vestry retreats for neighboring parishes, Child Care training & certification events, Orange County School Board social events & meetings, the Hillsborough Garden Club, Historical Society programs, as well as frequent historical tours of the church and grounds for sightseers and school groups.

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