We are a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, rooted in the faith and tradition of the ancient Western Church but attuned to the fresh whispers of the Holy Spirit in this day, age and place. For 180 years, St. Matthew Lutheran has been a center of worship and a hub of service here in Martinsburg, and we trust and believe that, with God’s help, that will continue to be the case long in the future.

No words or pictures on a webpage can adequately convey who we are, so in the timeless words of our Savior Jesus Christ, we invite you to “come and see.” Worship with us, visit with us, and see if God is calling you to be a part of the gracious work that God is unfolding all around us and through us here at St. Matthew Lutheran Church!

What To Expect

When you arrive at St. Matthew, expect to be greeted and to shake a lot of hands. Folks will probably ask your name and inquire about where you’re from. Don’t worry – we really aren’t trying to interrogate you. Martinsburg is a small town, with all of the wonderful hospitality and informality that a small town brings. We encourage you to seek us out too. Ask us about our congregation, our community and our history with the church. The more you know about us, the more comfortable we think you will be in joining with us in worship.

As you enter our worship space, you will be given a bulletin with our Order of Service. St. Matthew Lutheran Church practices a “liturgical” form of worship, consistent with the ancient tradition of the Western Church. “Liturgy” is a fancy word to indicate that worship is participatory – an active rather than passive undertaking. The liturgy is filled with Holy Scripture and prayers, both ancient and modern. The order of service includes four broad categories:

In this portion of the service, we are gathered and welcomed into worship through word, song and prayer. This portion of the service also typically includes an opportunity, as a congregation, to corporately confess to God our sinfulness and to hear God’s gracious word and promise of forgiveness.

In this portion of worship, we usually hear four separate readings from the Holy Bible. Normally this includes a reading from the Old Testament, all or a portion of a Psalm, a reading from the New Testament (other than the four Gospels) and a Gospel reading from either Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Our readings cycle on a three-year basis (referred to as a “Lectionary”) so that we are exposed to a very broad part of God’s Word as recorded in Sacred Scripture. This portion of the service also includes the Pastor’s sermon, in which the Good News of Jesus Christ is proclaimed to the congregation. In our tradition, the sermon is usually about 15 minutes long.

Here at St. Matthew, we partake of the Lord’s Supper (also referred to as “Communion” or the Eucharist”) on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month, plus special days (“Festivals”) on the Church Calendar, like Christmas and Easter. As Lutherans, we believe that the bread and wine of Communion are the real body and blood of Jesus Christ, as promised in John 6. How do this happen? We do not pretend to know or understand, but in faith we do believe. If you have been baptized and believe in the real presence of Christ in the elements of the Lord’s Supper, we invite you to commune regardless of whether or not you are an “official” member of St. Matthew or whether you consider yourself a Lutheran. If you do not want to commune, come forward to the communion rail with a bulletin in hand, as a signal to the Pastor that you would like to receive a blessing rather than commune.

This brief portion of the service includes a final blessing upon the congregation and is the time when we can recall that we have been blessed by God during worship and are now sent out into the world by God to bless and serve others.

During worship there will be times when the congregation stands and other times when everyone sits. The purpose of standing is to indicate our reverence toward God and our particular focus on the liturgy. For example, we stand during the reading of the Gospel and the praying of the Lord’s Prayer. This can be confusing to folks who are new to liturgical worship. But don’t worry - the bulletin will indicate when you are to stand, and you can simply watch everyone else and stand when they stand. If you don’t get it exactly right. It isn’t a test and no one is going to laugh at you. (But if you catch Pastor Scott not standing or sitting at the right time, you have his permission to make fun of him as you shake hands following the service!)

Why come to St. Matthew?

If you are not a member of our congregation, you have probably asked this question: "Why should I come to St. Matthew?"

It's a good question, one that I have been posing to our members as we have gathered for cottage meetings over the last few months. As I solicited answers, I had just one ground rule: you can't say that "we're a friendly church" (even though we are) because everyone says that their church is a friendly church. So, with that rationale off the table, here is what I have been hearing:

1. Lutheran theology is grace-based and creates an atmosphere of love and acceptance. If you have felt judged, shunned or unwelcome elsewhere, you will find St. Matthew to be a place of forgiveness and new life.

2. During Sunday worship you will hear and experience the Gospel through the Word sung, preached and proclaimed. Four scriptures (a passage from the Old Testament, a Psalm, an Epistle and a Gospel passage) are typically read at each service. That's a lot of scripture! But the Bible is our source and norm for life, so it is appropriate for us to devote so much time to the Bible. You will also hear a sermon (about 15 minutes in length) that is grounded in one or more of the Bible for the day. Finally, on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month you will be invited to the Lord's Table to be filled with Christ's true presence - a promise so enormous that it defies explanation or full understanding. It must simply be experienced.

3. Our liturgy, comprised of prayer and scripture, will surround you during worship. It provides structure, clarity and a lens for seeing ourselves and our world. It also unites us with the "great cloud of witnesses" within the Church by linking us with a tradition that extends back nearly 2,000 years. Best of all, it does so in a way that is understandable and accessible in our day and age.

We are not perfect and don't claim to have all of the answers or an exclusive monopoly on the truth. We at St. Matthew are grateful for all of the churches in this region and during our 180 years of existence we have been leaders in finding ways to partner with other churches and denominations because, standing on the common ground of Jesus Christ, together we can accomplish so much more here in Martinsburg and the Cove. Nevertheless, we do believe that we have something unique to offer. Come and see! Perhaps you'll find that here at St. Matthew there's a place at the Lord's Table already set and waiting for you.

Pastor Scott

Whereto Next?

We'd be delighted to meet you in person and are invited to join us on Sundays at 10:30am for Worship and 9:15am for Sunday School. We also encourage you to dive deeper into the website to get a better idea of what we're about.

If you have questions, or would like to talk with someone at the church, click here.