Local churches: St. Matthew Lutheran Church

Photo+by+Kathryn+Mae+Post

Photo by Kathryn Mae Post

St. Matthew Lutheran Church is a welcoming body of believers that emphasizes grace and nurtures faith life in a profoundly personal way. Worship takes place in a white brick building about fifteen minutes from campus. Josie Granner, a junior nursing student at Calvin, has been attending this church for the past four months.

While few college students currently attend St. Matthew, students are warmly welcomed from the first time they visit. Granner said, “The pastor immediately noticed me and welcomed me personally into the congregation, and immediately connected me with several different members of the congregation. I felt like I had people to talk to and sit with even though I came by myself.”

Worship at St. Matthew is characterized by a free-flowing liturgy that includes singing, creeds, the Lord’s Prayer, scripture readings from both the Old and New Testament, a sermon, communion and announcements. Regarding the musical aspect of worship, Granner said, “There are beautiful songs that are sincerely sung in praise and thanks of God.”

One of the most distinguishable features of St. Matthew is weekly communion. According to the church website, communion is a central part of Sunday worship because God bestows forgiveness, life and salvation through the elements.  

In addition, Granner said she appreciates the sermons at St. Matthew because they “are both very profound, and easy to follow at the same time.” The pastor there, who is both friendly and approachable, “absolutely loves teaching and talking about God.”

Granner also said, “The sermons really facilitate a Christ-centered life, and he really makes it easy to apply scriptures to your life and put Christ’s words into action.”

The congregation at St. Matthew is composed of a wide range of age groups, although there are an especially large number of young families. As Granner said, “Children are very highly valued in this church! It is really beautiful.” Because of the many children in the congregation, St. Matthew especially invests in children’s ministries, including nursery, Sunday school, children’s worship and children’s music classes. There are also ministries for junior and senior high, men’s and women’s groups, senior adult groups, support groups, Bible classes and small groups.

Granner also mentioned that the congregation does not have many college-age members, but that this is both a strength and a weakness: “I like interacting with other age groups more at church, because it helps me get out of the Calvin bubble. I love seeing so many children, because I always miss kids when I’m at Calvin all the time.”

There are many reasons why students should consider visiting St. Matthew. Granner said she would recommend it because “I believe that St. Matthew’s preaches truth, and it is God fearing, worshiping and praising. I think that the congregation and members ask God for guidance in their decisions and ask God to lead them in their lives. This church also talks about the abstract beliefs, philosophies and teachings of the Bible, and they also always apply it to daily life. This makes Christianity very personal, and it emphasizes walking closer to God each day, as well as emphasizing God’s grace and love.”