Welcome to St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Forest, VA
Vestry calls The Reverend Matt Rhodes to St. Stephen’s
Your Vestry is very pleased to announce that it has called The Reverend Matt Rhodes to serve as Priest-in-Charge of St. Stephen’s commencing June 1, 2021. As you will read below in Rev. Matt’s own words, he feels a spiritual connection with St. Stephen’s tracing back to his youth when he and his family were members. Several of our current parish members will remember him from the active youth group which we had in the 1980s.
Rev. Matt is currently the Rector of Christ Church in Millwood, not far from Winchester, having served that parish since June 2017. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Alabama and a Master of Divinity degree from the Virginia Theological Seminary. In addition to his parish duties, Rev. Matt currently serves as Dean of the Northern Shenandoah Region of the Diocese of Virginia. Prior to Rev. Matt’s call to ordained ministry he worked in Washington, D.C. in the U.S. House of Representatives and later for national trade associations in senior executive roles in public relations and marketing.
Vestry is confident that you will see the many spiritual and pastoral qualities which Rev. Matt brings to St. Stephen’s. In his own words below, he describes what this call means to him:
“I am overjoyed to accept the call to serve as your Priest-in Charge, a call that is a true homecoming for me. When my family first attended a service at St. Stephen’s on New Year’s Day 1984, I saw then – and saw countless times in the eight years I was a member – how a small congregation could very much be a family, what it was like to be accepted and welcomed for the simple fact alone of being a child of God, and where the Rector at that time demonstrated in innumerable ways how to be an effective, loving and pastoral rural priest. What I saw then from priest and parishioners alike became the foundation on which I have tried to build my own ministry and vocation. Just as significant, the hands and love of the people I met then – men and women whose friendship and support lift me still along with the cherished memories of those who are now numbered among the communion of saints – continue to strengthen and sustain me to this day. This call has blessed me with a wonderful opportunity to return, with my family – my wife Amy and our children Mary and Ella – joining you and yours to write the next chapters of the parish story. This church and all of you who have given so much during this interim time are on the brink of great things. I look forward to seeing how together we will grow the church, build up the youth program, experience the richness of liturgy and education, explore ways to serve our neighbors, and – perhaps most importantly – take the church beyond the physical four walls of the sanctuary and into Forest (and beyond!). In times past the church was very much the center of the community, and I have no doubt we will do much together to again make St. Stephen’s the center of the community.”