Congregation Close-up: St. Matthias, Cave Junction

Congregation Close-up: St. Matthias, Cave Junction

St. Matthias building square

St. Matthias has served Cave Junction and the Illinois Valley for over sixty years.  It is a rather typical small town church—rather plain on the exterior, but with a rustic, wooden interior that exudes a homey, welcoming ethos.  While never a large parish by most standards, it has continued to maintain a viable and dedicated presence in the community. In recent years the parish has suffered from the lack of a full-time clergy presence, resulting in a significant decrease in the number of active parishioners.  Currently being served by a non-stipendiary, retired priest, it offers a weekly Sunday Eucharist service in the best tradition of the Book of Common Prayer.  While the congregation averages only four or five worshippers on any given Sunday, it takes seriously the prayer of St. John Chrysostom that “when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them.”

Because of the size of the parish congregation, they have limited resources and ministry opportunities.  Not to be deterred by their small size, the parish is perhaps best defined by their “Harvest Kitchen” ministry, which has been in place for over 20 years.  They serve a wholesome meal to 20-30 individuals (including some families) in their community two days a week.  It is a ministry which is controversial to some in the community, who believe it perpetuates the problem of vagrancy in Cave Junction, but very much appreciated by others.  They draw inspiration from Matthew 25:35—“for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” Their intention is simply for others to see in them the face of Christ as they extend hospitality and a meal to some of the most vulnerable in their community.  It also allows St. Matthias to cultivate relationships with the forgotten and disenfranchised in their midst, which has resulted in two of their “Harvest Kitchen” patrons attending worship on a regular basis.

Though they struggle and face multiple challenges unique to a very small, rural parish church, the people of St. Matthias consider themselves privileged to serve God and play their part in the unfolding drama of salvation in this small corner of creation.