The History of St. Matthew
Woodlyn's First Church: 1912 (Mission) Incorporated 1913
St. Matthew Church, September 1929
At the suggestion and with the cooperation of the Reverend Stanley Billheimer, Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church of Norwood, PA, preliminary work started to form a Lutheran Mission in Crum Lynne begun November 10, 1911. This work was under the auspices of the Advisory Mission Committee of the Philadelphia Conference of the East Pennsylvania Synod.
A lot of ground situated on the east side of Fairview Road north of Haverford Road in Crum Lynne was purchased February 12, 1912. A frame chapel used in Logan, Philadelphia, was secured to house the new congregation. The chapel was removed from Philadelphia and erected on the lot and furnished in the spring. This building was one large room, approximately 40’ by 60’. The furnishings were an altar, two large altar chairs, a pulpit, benches for seating, and two large iron stoves for heating.
The first service of worship was held on Sunday evening, June 23, 1912 and conducted by Mr. William H. Roth of Philadelphia. Articles of Incorporation were signed in 1913.
The Lutheran Sunday School in Norwood voted upon the name for the new Mission, and St. Matthew was selected. This name proved acceptable to the people of Crum Lynne interested in the Mission.The chapel was formally dedicated on Sunday afternoon, June 30, 1912. The temporary organization of the congregation was held on September 12, 1912; there were 15 adults and three children present. The church continued to serve in its original location until May of 1929, when it was deemed advisable to move to Fairview Road and Lukens Avenue, Woodlyn.
The present plot of ground situated on the southeastern corner of Fairview Road and Lukens Avenue was purchased for the sum of $5,000. The membership at that time was 76 persons.
Ground was broken on October 12, 1930, and Palm Sunday, March 29, 1931, witnessed the dedication of the first permanent unit of our present church building.
In September 1939 an organ was purchased from Nativity Lutheran Church of Chester.
On January 1, 1941, we became a self-supporting congregation. Up to this time St. Matthew was under the auspices of the Advisory Mission Committee of the Philadelphia Conference of the East Pennsylvania Synod.
At a special congregational meeting held May 3, 1942, the congregation authorized the purchase of the property at 138 Taylor Avenue, Woodlyn, to be used as a parsonage. The price paid was $5,600.
On March 4, 1945, St. Matthew became a Free Will Giving Congregation.
At a special congregational meeting held August 17, 1947, the congregation authorized the Church Council to have Mr. T. Norman Mansell prepare plans and specifications for the Western Unit. The bids received in the fall of 1947 ranged in price from $46,000 to $60,000. At the suggestion of the Council the congregation accepted the proposal to have the men and women of the church do the building. A survey of volunteers followed and the response was gratifying that enough manpower and skill was available in every department except stone workers and bricklayers. Accordingly outside hired workers were engaged to do this work.An appropriate ground breaking service was held on Sunday, April 4, 1948. The Cornerstone was placed in the Western Wall on Reformation Sunday, October 31, 1948.
A very impressive dedication service of the new West Wing was held Sunday, June 25, 1950. This was the second permanent unit, and the dedication included many memorial gifts from our members. The Reverend Raymond Foellner was our Pastor.
In 1951 a new Wurlitzer Electric Organ was purchased at a cost of $2,771.
The Christmas Eve Candlelight Service was instituted in December 1954.
On November 24, 1957, the congregation decided to build a Sunday School unit. Robert Gilfillian of Philadelphia was appointed architect to prepare plans and specifications. September 9, 1959 bids were opened for a new building, and the contract was awarded to Joseph Abriola, builder, for $90,000. The dedication services were held December 11, 1960, the eighth year of Pastor Samuel Clarke's thirteen-year ministry at St. Matthew.
At a special congregational meeting held June 9, 1959, the congregation authorized the purchase of the Ward Johnson property (150 Fairview Road, Woodlyn) consisting of one acre of land, a frame dwelling, sixteen garages and a milk house; the purchase price was $16,000. The dwelling was to be used as a parsonage.
The Kindergarten Program was instituted September 17, 1962.
The parsonage at 150 Fairview Road was greatly in need of repair, and it was decided that it would be more advantageous to demolish the house and build a new parsonage. The milk house had been demolished shortly after purchase. At a congregational meeting held September 20, 1964, the Council was authorized to have the house demolished by E. F. Murphy at a cost of $950.
David G. Krewson, Jr., assistant pastor at St. Paul's Lutheran Church of
Ardmore, accepted the call as Pastor of St. Matthew at a congregational meeting
held May 1, 1966 to become effective June 16, 1966. The Installation Service
was held June 26, 1966. Not having a parsonage available, a house was rented
for Pastor Krewson and his family at 643 Tenth Ave., Prospect Park.
At a congregational meeting held March 12, 1967, it was decided to build a new parsonage to be located, on the rear of the property at the corner of Fairview Road and Essex Avenue, facing on Essex Avenue, and the lot at the corner of Fairview Road and Essex Avenue to be paved for use as a parking lot. In order to erect the parsonage, it was necessary to demolish the twelve garages. The architect appointed was George Savage, and the builder was Frank A. Springfield; the approximate cost to be $25,000. Wayne J. Lyster & Son gave us a cost of $6,725 did the paving of the parking lot.
On May 2, 1967, the congregation authorized the Council to purchase the Dougherty Estate property adjoining the church property at 156 Fairview Road, at a cost of $16,000, to be used for Youth and Sunday School purposes.
A ministry of banners was begun in 1968 by the Junior Youth Group.
Using memorial funds from James and Alice Royer a new Two-Manual organ was purchased in November 1970 at a cost of $11,127.
Mr. George Ramont has hand carved many liturgical symbols, which have been placed within the church.
Marie Highley introduced hand-made "CHRISMONS" as decorations for our sanctuary Christmas Trees, a tradition that continues.
In October 1970 a cross replaced the "'Reredos" backdrop behind the altar. The "Reredos" was a memorial given by Charles and Ann Jacobs. The cross was built by Mr. Casey Sach and donated by Fritz and Viola Sach. The men of the church installed it.New choir robes were purchased in September 1973 also using memorial money from James and Alice Royer. A total of 42 robes for the senior choir and thirty for the youth choir.
After the public schools began a kindergarten program, we disbanded our kindergarten and began a nursery school for 4 year old children in 1972 followed by a program for 3 year olds in 1974.
Also enhancing worship in the 1970's was the addition of a Folk-Song Group & Liturgical Dance.
In 1973, a children's choir of kindergarten through third grade was begun with Doris Krewson as director. These children raised their voices in song at "special services"; they have robes that match those worn by the older choirs, which are a memorial to Christian Potter, a choir member. This choir still sings under the direction of Jerilyn Iacono and her guitar.
In 1973 when Verna “Mom” Davis died after 38 years of service as organist, her piano was donated to the Sunday School and Jeanne Sach took on the position of organist in addition to her present position as choir director.
In 1975 a beautiful Sanctuary Piano was dedicated in memory of Phyllis Sach also a member of the Children’s choir.
Our youth and adult choirs, led by Jeanne Sach for 45 years continue to bring us joy every Sunday in our worship services and in 43 magnificent concerts each spring since 1965. The youth have also praised our Lord with an orchestra on Christmas Eve.
Our very active Senior Saints group began in 1974. They bring new life and joy to the church the first Wednesday of each month. Later, a new group called "55 Alive" was formed and welcomes any retiree who would like to join them on the 2nd Monday of each month. These groups are no longer active.
In July 1982, St. Matthew paid off its indebtedness on the property and they celebrated this Stewardship event, with a mortgage burning on October 1982.
Organizations active in St. Matthew at the present time include a very busy Sunday Church School, Women of the ELCA, and a Youth Group. The church also hosts community organizations of Alcoholics Anonymous, Girl Scouts, and at times is available for groups such as Community Dispute Settlement and Delaware County Juvenile Restitution Program.
On September 25, 1983, the congregation authorized the council to have the parish house demolished. For several years, it had not been used in winter months due to heating costs. It had, however, made a very spooky "haunted house" for our youth on Halloween in 1982 and 1983, benefiting the World Hunger Appeal.
New thermal windows were installed in the nave in 1986 and beautiful stained glass overlays were dedicated in October 1987 along with pew cushions given in memory of Bertha Coverdale and a chair lift for the disabled.
In 1987 Jeanne Sach was recognized for 25 years of service as Director of Music. Jeanne was presented with an engraved watch.
On May 20, 1990, a special congregational meeting was called to discuss and be approved by the Church Council to obtain a contractor to replace all the roofing of the church. The cost would be $23,000. Also, steps at the nursery entrance were replaced.
In June 1991, Pastor Krewson was honored at a luncheon for his 25 years of ministry at St. Matthew. The congregation's gift to him was to charter an aircraft so that Pastor and Doris could attend their two son’s college graduation on the same day in two different cities.
An Alternative worship using guitars was introduced instead of organ music. The following year, Bonnie Brysiak and Ray Schott formed a group called "Gifts of Praise" who have been helping us praise the Lord ever since.
August 1995, the roof loan was paid off. In 1998 a $136,000 loan was approved
by the congregation to renovate the downstairs Fellowship Hall. Curtis Ray and
the special property committee have overseen this project, which has been completed.
In 1998 three St. Matthew sport teams won championships. They were volleyball team #1, our bowling team won their church league and our softball team won their championship.
Pastor David G. Krewson retired in June of 2000, having served St. Matthew for 33 years. He and wife Doris and sons, David, Douglas and Daniel contributed much to the growth and richness of our congregation and the spreading of the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ in the church family and the community. A retirement service at church, and a recognition dinner were held to commemorate this event. Pastor Krewson was presented a certificate naming him Pastor Emeritus of St. Matthew.
Following the retirement of Pastor Krewson, St. Matthew has been served by interims Pastors, The Rev. Arlene Greenwald and The Rev. Jesse Brown. The Rev. Steven Caler was called in May of 2002 and served as Pastor for one year until June of 2003. During this period of time St. Matthew developed a Mission Statement for the church, which reads as follows:
“As children of God, we are moved by the Holy Spirit to Speak out for God, Share our Faith, and Serve Others in Christ’s name.”
In 2002, a Saturday evening “Seeker Service” was added which lasted one year. Also in 2002 a new decorative block retaining wall was erected around the church at a cost of $26,000, which was raised by donations from the congregation. New exterior lighting fixture, sidewalk, and landscaping were added to enhance the outside.
In October 2003 Nancy B. Brown accepted a Synodical appointment to serve as pastor of St. Matthew. She was installed as Pastor on December 13, 2003.In 2004 St. Matthew received a large monetary gift from the estate of Margaret Bell, a former member. The monies were invested until plans could be made to establish an endowment fund.
Under Pastor Brown's leadership regular weekly Bible studies were begun. We also began using assistant ministers and cantors in our worship services.
On May 1, 2005 the Synodical appointment of Pastor Brown came to an end and she officially became our pastor.
An endowment task force was created to study and report recommendations to Council by April 1, 2006 regarding the estate of Margaret Bell. At that time an Endowment Committee will be established.
Highlights from Music and Worship Committee included an Easter Vigil service and a special piece of music commissioned for Jeanne Sach as she celebrated 40 years as Music Director at St. Matthew.
Evangelism Committee was and is very active in our congregation and the community i.e., Pew attendance records, game day, visitation ministry, campus connection, craft night and Advent chains.
We purchased new sets of paraments, thanks to donors. Thanks to Betty Calise and others new banners were made to match and others were made to celebrate some festival occasions.
New hymn books, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, were purchased and put into use in December 2007. We used one of the new liturgies the summer of 2008 and are looking forward to learning some more in the coming year.St. Matthew continues to witness to God's love in our community and the world around us. Ten percent of our endowments went to local community outreach. Financially and physically we are helping Habitat for Humanity in Chester.
Through our Synod we helped support SEKUCo, a college to train special education teachers in Tanzania. We also continue to feed the hungry and support the heifer project. The Sunday School is doing its share by sponsoring a child from Children, Inc.St Matthew has been blessed in so many ways. May we continue to be strong in our faith, a strong presence and witness to Christ's abiding love in our everyday lives wherever we live and work.