This Sunday, June 5, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Pennington will celebrate its Centennial Anniversary with an outdoor celebration immediately following a 10am centennial church service. 

The church began in the spring of 1921 with worship held at the Tea Room of the Rose Garden Inn, which was located at the rear of the lot of 410 South Main Street in Pennington. The donation of a parcel of land at 330 South Main Street became the site of a small wooden mission church, which would transform and grow over the years to become the St. Matthew’s we know today.

Father Jack Belmont

A celebration for St. Matthew’s 100th anniversary is happening alongside St. Matthew’s Preschool 50th anniversary, with simultaneous events on June 5. The party will include outdoor refreshments, fellowship, and activities for families and children.

As part of the celebration, retired Father Jack Belmont will be named Rector Emeritus. St. Matthew’s will be presenting a proclamation commemorating the 100th anniversary issued by the Pennington Borough Council, re-dedicating the Memorial Garden, and celebrating its rich history with music and fellowship.  

Memorabilia will be on display in Belmont Hall and a short video about St. Matthew’s history will be available to view.

The Right Reverend William H. Stokes, 12th Bishop of NJ, issued a letter on the church’s Centennial anniversary saying in part: “St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church has been an active, engaged, and faithful presence not only in Pennington but in the wider diocesan community.” Stokes continued: “Over the years of its existence, it has nurtured numerous persons to become clergy people, among them your current Priest-in-Charge, The Reverend Ophelia Laughlin.”

“The Reverend Jack Belmont served the church as Rector for 37 years,” said Stokes, “and is being appropriately named Rector Emeritus for his love, dedication, and service to St. Matthew’s as well as to the wider Church.”

Ophelia Laughlin and Noelle Rizzo

Anne Gribbons, the member of the Vestry and Co-Chair of the Anniversary Committee, stated that St. Matthew’s has been “a tale of many churches in the last two years. We had to learn how to worship without being together.”

“This celebration will be one of the first events where we can comfortably be together again,” said Gribbons.

Priest-in-Charge, Ophelia Laughlin said in her letter commemorating the Centennial, that “through thick and thin, St. Matthew’s has continued to adapt to ever-changing Covid circumstances.”

Laughlin stated that “St. Matthew’s has certainly proved to be a parish of resiliency and one for which the phrase ‘Hope Grows Here’ is most apt.”

St. Matthew’s Centennial Mass will take place this Sunday, June 5 at 10am, followed by a celebration. Visit this link to view complete information about the event.

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