St Matthew's Church is the spiritual home to a wide range of people. It has been since 1746 and remains the gathering place for the worship of God in Bethnal Green. It has seen many changes in the area over the years and these changes continue today.
People have come to St Matthew's to say their prayers and celebrate their lives in good times, bad times and periods of uncertainty, difficulty and tragedy. That too remains as it was.
The people of St Matthew's Church are mainly drawn from the local area. Many people move in and out of Bethnal Green each year. The more established, the new and the passing through are all among us. Our numbers are currently about 30 worshippers, including children, on a Sunday. This number often triples for special services.
As of the summer of 2018, the PCC decided that its goal for the next five years would be growth in its various forms. It adopted a new vision which includes a committment to growing numerically, in terms of social outreach, in lay leadership and in Christian awareness and understanding. This will be the key to our ambition to realise an exciting future.
We know we are not perfect. With this in mind, we try to welcome and include each person who walks through the doors. We come from a range of backgrounds and nations. Among us can be found people who are students, retired and those who work as cleaners, lawyers, musicians, doctors, journalists and some working in finance, building, hospitals, the media and the arts, and people whose full time work is looking after their homes and children.
The Parochial Church Council has adopted a statement of Life and Mission. It states:
St Matthew’s Church seeks, by the grace of God:
In line with the statement, the Parochial Church Council unanimously voted in September 2008 to affiliate with the Inclusive Church movement. The centre piece of our worship is the Parish Mass at 10.30am on Sundays. In this we listen to God's word, offer prayers and honour the Christian commitment to remember Jesus in the way he commanded us - in bread and wine. We try to do this in a relaxed formality, upholding the catholic tradition of the parish, but acknowledging we are people of the 21st century.
In October 2014 we made a link with the church of Holy Trinity, Inwood on Manhattan in New York. We are seeking ways to deepen our connection.
We have also worked hard over a number of years to make the church administratively proficient. In line with that, we make available our Annual Report and Accounts. Other reports and comments can be found in the Annual Reflections.
Our young people are important to us. We try to meet their needs with regular services in which they take the leading part. Nearly all our servers at the Mass are young people. We hold a popular after-school club every Friday which draws over 20 children from various faith and culural backgrounds, working on projects such as making YouTube videos and putting on theatrical productions as well as simply having fun in a safe environment. We are seeking to explore ways to further meet the needs of young people and have funds for a Children's Worker to take these things forward.
The church is regularly visited by school groups. In 2015 the Parochial Church Council, assisted by a grant from the Samuel Butler's Educational Foundation, produced resources to facilitate the visits.
We were visited by a 'Mystery Worshipper' one Sunday in 2009. This Mystery Worshipper attends a service and an online review follows. You might like to read what he made of us. If so, click here. The whole thing is run by the Ship of Fools website.
The church is sometimes used for filming. The BBC's Who Do You Think You Are featured an edition on Patsy Kensit's family. Also, in 2009 the church hall was the venue for a short film entered in a competition. Watch for the edit of going into the church that segues to action in the hall.
With two of the most lively street markets in London on Sunday mornings, it pays to walk or use public transport. The nearest Underground stations are: Bethnal Green (Central Line), Liverpool Street (Central, Metropolitan, Circle, Hammersmith and City Lines). Buses 8 and 388 pass along Bethnal Green Road - alight at the Barnet Grove stop.
The mass is said on other days of the week - always on Wednesday evenings. Times of these services should be on the Parish Notices page of this site. One of the masses takes place on Thursday in a residential home for the elderly. There are services of Morning and Evening Prayer nearly every day of the week.
We meet in groups to study and talk about the faith and how it might be worked out in this changing part of London. The clergy are available for personal advice, as well as for the administration of the sacraments, to bless houses and occasionally have a drink with.
One of our church buildings is used by Arch 76, which works with vulnerable local women. Also, we have consulted those who live around the church and those who pass through the churchyard on how we can best use the campus of buildings and space around the church for community benefit and are increasingly doing this, albeit encountering various social problems along the way.
Although St Matthew's does not have a regular choir, we are a musical church where singing plays an important part in our worship. For a number years we have held successful Carol Services. For each of these, our Director of Music, Dr Christopher Maxim, has composed a new piece. They may be heard on YouTube:
The choir at these services has been drawn from the congregation, with a little help from some members of The Giltspur Singers and a small number of other guests. Some other pieces sung at our Carol Services can be heard by following the links below.
Chris Maxim also composes as the need arises new hymn tunes to be sung by the congregation at St Matthew's. They include:
For the service to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the reconsecration of the church in July 2011, the PCC commissioned Chris to compose an anthem. The result of this commission, 'O How Amiable Are Thy Dwellings', was performed by the Giltspur Singers, with Adey Grummet (soprano).
On Good Friday 2014, a quartet of singers -- all regular worshippers at St Matthew's -- sang the John Passion to plainsong, with the Turba (Crowd) parts sung to the polyphonic settings by Tomás Luis de Victoria (c.1548-1611).
We also like to socialise, with a range of outings, pilgrimages and other functions.
The best way to find out more about us is to come!
St Matthew's Row,
Bethnal Green London E2 6DT
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our main Sunday service is the
Parish Eucharist at 10.30am
Mass, Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer are offered most days.
See Parish Notices for more information