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Rector's Reflection

September 20, 2017


One of the first things that I learned when I arrived at Clarke Parish is that you are a mission-focused congregation. The Backpack Program and the joy that you find in feeding hungry kids in our community is a story that you tell with justifiable pride. Listening carefully, however, I learned that the Backpack Program isn’t the end of your mission story.


Over coffees and in casual conversation, I heard about the many mission trips that have been part of your history. Teams from Clarke Parish have travelled to Alaska, Idaho, New Orleans (after Katrina) and New Jersey (after Sandy) to put your hands, feet, and muscles to work – living out the Gospel call to love God and love your neighbor.


“We want to do that again,” is a refrain that I heard from more than one voice in the months after I arrived. I’d hoped we might travel to West Virginia to help after the flooding that took place there a year ago. Between my own health issues and a very busy interim year, we didn’t get to West Virginia. I am sorry about that.


In June, when I met Matthew Peterson, I began to see how we might put our hands, feet, and muscles to work a little closer to home. Matt Peterson is the Executive Director at Habitat for Humanity of Winchester-Frederick-Clarke, Virginia. In that position, he’s responsible for promoting the overall Habitat for Humanity vision and direction and ensuring its ability to increasingly serve families in need with simple, decent, affordable housing.


I believe that the strong sense of call that I hear to engage in mission work with our hands, feet and muscles could be of service to our local community through Habitat for Humanity. Matt and I had coffee in July to talk about what that might look like. In that conversation, I came to understand Matt’s sense of call to this work. I invited him to come to Clarke Parish and preach on a Sunday morning.


This Sunday (September 24), Matt Peterson will be the guest preacher at all three services at Clarke Parish. He’ll be at the 8 (GEC), 9 (St. M) and 11 (GEC) o’clock services. And, he’ll be at coffee hour at St. Mary’s and at Grace to answer any questions you might have. Plan to join us at one of our services this weekend. Come with open hearts and open ears to listen for how God might be calling us into a new ministry opportunity right here in our own back yard. Following Matt’s visit, we’ll gather those who might be interested in hands-on mission work to listen for how God might be calling us to serve our neighbors.


Here is a bit more information about Matt:

Prior to joining Habitat for Humanity, Matt served as the Deputy to the President & CEO at Project Hope, a global non-profit that delivers essential medicines and supplies, health expertise and medical training, in order to respond to disaster, prevent disease, promote wellness and save lives around the globe. For seven years, prior to that, Matt was the Senior Manager for Volunteer Operations at Project HOPE, overseeing the global volunteer program and developing new humanitarian assistance and global health programs around the world. Prior to Project HOPE, Matt served as a medical operations officer in the US Army for nine years. Matt holds a BS in Biology (pre-med) from the University of Miami, FL in and a Master’s degree in International Affairs from the Yonsei University Graduate School of International Studies in Seoul, Republic of Korea in 2006. He also holds the Certificate in Volunteer Administration.  Matt was born in West Berlin, Germany in 1972 and grew up in Tallahassee, Florida. He currently lives in White Post, VA with his wife, Anne, and two children, Thomas and Clara. Matt and his family attend Christ Church, Millwood.


Rev. Fran