In the Episcopal Church tradition, the Rector of a church serves in several roles. As Rector, Matthew is responsible for helping the congregregation to articulate its vision and mission as a community seeking to follow Christ. He also has primary responsibility for the church's worship life and is the community's primary preacher and teacher. He is also responsible for appointing and supervising the church staff and has oversight of the congregation's programs and spiritual formation. He serves as something of a chief executive officer in addition to his spiritual role.
I grew up in the United Church of Christ, where my father has served as an ordained minister for more than 50 years. While in college at Michigan State University, I discovered The Episcopal Church, and fell in love with the worship service, the opportunity to have weekly Communion, and the whole ethos of the church. Toward the end of my undergraduate career, I experienced a sense of call to the priesthood, and found my way to the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I earned my Master of Divinity degree.
I was ordained a deacon in June of 1991 at St. Paul's Cathedral in Detroit, and was ordained a priest in January of 1992 at St. Peter's Church in Ladue, Missouri (a suburb of St. Louis), where I served as an associate. I went on from there to serve as rector of St. Peter's Church in Sycamore, Illinois (near Chicago) for four years, and then served as rector of St. Elizabeth's Church in Farragut, Tennessee (near Knoxville) for over 10 years. I became rector here at Trinity on August 1, 2009.
If I were to summarize my understanding of the Christian journey in one word, it would be "transformation." In the Gospels, I hear Jesus calling us to die to old, destructive patterns in order to embrace new patterns of relationship with God, with ourselves, with one another and with the creation in which we live. Everything we do as church is meant to serve this on-going transformation, which is meant to spread out from us to touch all the communities and systems of which we are a part.
For me, the Christian life is rooted not so much in a set of beliefs (though what we believe is important), but is grounded in a way of being. Jesus shows us this way of being in the whole of his life, and as Christ is the One who leads us into this way of being. Thus, the Christian life is primarily a set of practices that open us up to the transforming grace of God. Jesus, after all, spends much more time talking about what we should do, and very little time talking about what beliefs we should embrace. As church, I believe we are called to do the same.
Matthew is married to Kate Dutton-Gillett, a ceramic artist and a soprano in the Trinity Choir. They are parents of an adult daughter, Madeline, and a middle school aged son, Maxwell.