Our History and Unique Partnership
St. Matthew’s was founded in 1802, the same year Wilton was organized. Beginning in 1864, and for more than 100 years, our parish worshiped in a lovely stone church still located on Route 7 near the Wilton Town Hall that is now home to the Wilton Baptist Church.
By the 1960’s, however, St. Matthew’s had outgrown that church and begun examining opportunities for a new church home. At the same time, Wilton’s Presbyterian congregation was worshipping in borrowed facilities and exploring possibilities for a permanent church home. Under the leadership of our Rector, Roger O. Douglas, long considered a progressive thinker, in 1971 the Wilton Episcopal Presbyterian Corporation (WEPCO) was formed and we embarked on a unique partnership with our Presbyterian neighbors and friends.
The WEPCO joint venture grew out of a time when ecumenism was at the forefront of Christian thought . It was also seen as a way that the two congregations could have separate sanctuaries, while sharing resources and the expenses of staff and space. The two congregations share a campus of ten acres as a condominium association. The Presbyterian and Episcopal sanctuaries are owned by the respective individual churches. Everything else is held in common and managed by a WEPCO Board of Directors. This Board is comprised of an equal number of Presbyterians and Episcopalians. The common ownership includes offices, classrooms, meeting rooms, a kitchen and Parish Hall, as well as the outside grounds and parking lot.
While the WEPCO complex is the physical manifestation of this partnership, its spiritual aspects run much deeper. Our joint Christian Education program means that Sunday school classes are taught by teams of teachers from both parishes. Our middle and high school youth programs and activities are combined, which leads to lasting friendships and relationships among our young parishioners. And through periodic joint worship services and shared community events, all of our parishioners gain increased understanding and appreciation for different ways of worshiping Christ and living in Christian community.
The WEPCO partnership requires commitment, compromise, and is, at times, complex. Our parish strongly embraces the partnership, and believes that in strengthening the partnership, we will strengthen and build our St. Matthew’s parish as well. Our new rector will have a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the ‘Golden Anniversary’ of the WEPCO partnership and provide the leadership needed to help guide it into the next 50 years of its history.