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St Matthews Annual Report 2023 Celebration Garden Sterling Virginia




Dear Friends, In virtually every one of the Annual Reports I’ve written for the last 23 years, we've celebrated the many ways God was leading us forward and blessing us with increase. But at the start of 2023, all our measures were down and still declining. And now, at the end of 23, everything changed in a way that had me exclaiming in wonder and praise, “Only God!” In point of fact, 2023 may just have been our best year yet! We gave away more money through various forms of financial assistance and much needed material goods than we ever have before. We could do that because you gave more generously than ever before. And that’s just the start. Service attendance numbers are also up, and we have new people joining us each week. More importantly, the joy is way up as well. The Holy Spirit is moving, and Sunday mornings feel great again- really, really great in fact. That's been a long time coming. At St. Matt’s, we’ve always been crystal clear: numbers only matter because they represent lives, the lives of people who matter to God. The lives that matter captured in the next number are the lives of our children and youth.These numbers too are up-- by the end of 2023, Faith Factory had doubled and even tripled in size. The number of youth turning out for Jr. and Middle School events showed a similar dramatic increase. For the first time in 5 years, we had the great joy of sending youth off on a mission trip. The list goes on and on—the women’s retreat, training a new generation of small group leaders, improvement to all our communication platforms driving increased engagement –- but, I trust you get the point and feel the excitement of being part of Saint Matthews at this time in history. Another characteristic of the very best year in our history is that it has set us up for an even better year to come. At the start of 2023 we paused, even restructuring the vestry (our governing board) to better discern where God is leading us. We knew we couldn't keep doing what we've been doing, but what we needed to do instead was unclear. While there are still plenty of questions, we learned a ton. We gained both direction and vision as the way ahead began coming into focus. And so, in 2024 we are moving forward like never before. There is a holy boldness here now that feels fantastic. At the risk of being repetitive, it is a very, very exciting time. Specifically, here are some ways we're moving ahead: expanded outreach, including further developing HRTS; forming a Capital Campaign Committee; adding new staff; increased volunteer engagement; expanding women's ministry; creating more small groups; continuing to build our children and youth ministries; exploring new services and service improvements; more Bible studies; growing our digital ministry and communication platforms. Whew!!! And in all these things, being clear that we are doing them to deepen our commitment to Jesus. What’s your part? First, INVEST. Invest your one and only life in what truly matters. Ask God, “What would you have me do?” Listen. Act. We don't have to get it exactly right. We do have to keep moving forward and learn on the way. Second, INVITE. Invite everyone you know to join us! I'm going to go out on a limb and say you are here for a reason. You are here because you are feeling a connection to God in this community that makes you feel more alive. It's a source of positive energy in a too often negative world, and that energy—the Holy Spirit! – makes life good news. So many people all around us are so hungry for this. Invite them, friends. Help them find what you have found, what God has given you. Don't keep it to yourselves. Finally, I don’t want to ever miss an opportunity to say how proud I am of you, how much I enjoy knowing and sharing God’s love with you, and how much I love each and every one of you. With much love and affection, Rob+



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