Our first vicar, the Rev. Malcolm Riker, presented 28 souls for confirmation on Palm Sunday 1959. In 1966 the Rev. Riker left to be rector at St. Luke’s on the Lake, a parish he also founded. The Rev. George Small was rector from 1966 until his departure in 1969. He was the first to introduce St. Matthew’s to small group ministries. The Rev. Fred Patton served as rector from 1969 through 1972, when he was called to a parish in Shreveport. The Rev. Will Spong served as interim rector until the arrival of the Rev. Charles (Chuck) Huffman in April of 1973. Under the Rev. Huffman’s leadership, the first parish Faith Alive weekend was held. That experience, along with the introduction of the new liturgy, prayer book and folk masses, opened many eyes to the joys of worship and of community. As our growth continued our first Associate Rector was hired. A second Faith Alive weekend in 1976 led to the decision to relocate: St. Matthew’s had outgrown its facilities.
In October 1977, ground was broken at our present site in the heart of northwest Austin. The current fellowship hall was ready to serve as our sanctuary early in 1979. The entire St. Matthew’s congregation - men, women and children - participated in the move. The youth building from Ridge Oak was moved to the new site where it remained until 2007.
A Vision Day was held in May 1981. That experience led to our vision “to know Christ and to make Him known.” The SWEEPS council system for organizing our ministries was begun. Those councils included Stewardship, Worship, Education, Evangelism, Pastoral care, and Service and Outreach. Continuing growth convinced us to complete our site plan and construct the present sanctuary. The Rev. Huffman had begun the process for which he is best remembered: empowering the lay ministry.
The present sanctuary was dedicated in March 1987. It continues to serve an ever-growing and active parish of committed believers. In July of 1987, by resolution of the Vestry, the parish hall was named Huffman Hall in honor of The Rev. Chuck Huffman.
After serving faithfully for 18 years as our shepherd, the Rev. Huffman retired in 1991. The Rev. Jim Williams, associate rector, lovingly guided us until the arrival of the Rev. John Pitts. The Rev. Pitts honored the Rev. Huffman for his many loving contributions to our parish by designating him rector emeritus.
St. Matthew’s is a unique church that has enjoyed significant growth. Several members of our parish and staff went on from St. Matthew’s to attend seminary and are now serving as priests. A strong and committed laity continues to pray, study and work together to know God’s will for the church and the community. Much of St. Matthew’s story concerns the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the people who are a part of this caring community that seeks “To know Christ, grow in Christ, and share Christ’s love.”
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