The following contains excerpts from “History of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Liverpool, New York 1840-1991.”
In the Beginning
In August 1940, a small group of Episcopalians met at the home of Mr. and Mrs. James C. King, forming the nucleus of the present congregation. A congregation of about 30 families held their first church service in the Civic Center with Reverend Franlin P. Bennett, Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Syracuse, officiating. Since this was held on St. Matthew’s Day, they voted to so name the parish. A year later, the Dicocese of Central New York granted this group the status of Mission, signed by the Right Reverend Edward H. Coley for the Diocese, and Henry Graveline, James King, Beverly Pierce, Richard Schad and Nathan Schwarting for St. Matthew’s.
Services were held in the Masonic Temple until 1942, when a building (erected in 1886 on Vine Street) was purchased. On November 7, 1943, Bishop Peabody dedicated St. Matthew’s Church.
For a period of time, the Mission depended upon supply priests and lay readers for leadership. From 1946 to 1948, the Reverend Herbert Aldrich of St. Andrew’s, Syracuse, shared his time as our pastor. After once again relying upon supply priests, on July 1, 1949, the Reverend Paul B. Miller was ordained and became our first full-time priest.
Tragedy struck on February 18, 1954 when fire totally destroyed the church building. Once again services were held at the Masonic Temple.
Rebuilding & Growth
Through the efforts of the congregation of about 55 families with assistance from the community and the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, a three-acre plot in the 900 block of Vine Street was purchased for $4800. The ground-breaking ceremonies were held in May of 1955 and the laying of the cornerstone in July. The new church was dedicated by Bishop Malcolm Peabody assisted by Suffragan Bishop Walter Higley on December 11, 1955. The congregation had grown to 74 families.
By September of 1979, the congregation had grown to 162 households. During this period, in addition to three Sunday services, a mid-week Eucharist and day and evening Bible classes were begun. After years of groundwork, an Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission signed an agreement to covenant.
On June 1, 1986, a ground breaking ceremony for a new wing on the Parish House was held presided over by Bishop Whitaker. This more than doubled the area for church school and meetings. On Sunday, January 11, 1987, Bishop O’Kelley Whitaker dedicated the new structure.