Meet the Pastor

Pastor Matt was raised in a Roman Catholic family as one of six children. Because his father was in the Air Force, the family lived in several places, including Trier, Germany. His family was very musical, and played music at a folk mass at the chapel on Fort Dix, NJ for three years in the early 1970s. As a young boy he had a strong sense of call to the priesthood, but also felt called to be a husband and father. After graduating high school in 1982, Matthew worked a number of jobs, including HVAC technician, and technical school teacher. Music and faith have been strongly connected throughout Matthew's life. He was a volunteer church musician at Corpus Christi Roman Catholic church in Willingboro, NJ, for 8 years. In 1984, Matthew met Karen, the daughter of Pastor C. Paul and Dolores Strockbine. Pastor Strockbine, now retired, has served as a parish pastor, an assistant to the Bishop and with the Division for Mission in North America. Karen and Matthew married on April 12, 1986. Karen and Matthew were blessed by the birth of their daughter, Jillian, on March 2, 1994.

Matthew was certified in youth ministry in 1984, and participated in many forms of ministry, from youth and prison ministry to teaching bible studies and writing, performing, and recording contemporary Christian music with Karen and others. During this time he realized that his understanding of the faith was not what was taught by the Roman Church, and he discovered a theological home in the writings of Luther and Melanchthon, as well as a worshiping home at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Tabernacle, NJ. Under the mentorship of Pastor David Jones, Matthew served as High School Youth Director at Lord of Life, and was heavily involved in the Music Ministry. Matthew sings and accompanies himself on the guitar and piano.

In September, 1991, he first inquired about becoming a Lutheran pastor. He then completed his undergraduate degree part-time in Liberal Studies at Thomas Edison State College in Trenton, while working two jobs. Starting in 1999, in which year he was also a voting member at the Churchwide Assembly, Matthew attended The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia full time, from which he graduated in 2003. His daughter Jillian is a professional actor, and will begin college in Fall, 2011.

Karen has served for six and a half years as a community mental health counselor. She is currently completing her Masters Degree in Psychological Rehabilitation Counseling. Karen was awarded the 2010 Direct Service Provider of the Year Award from the Supportive Housing Association of New Jersey.

Pastor Matt, pictured here with Bishop Riley of the New Jersey Synod of the ELCA, was called as Senior Pastor of Reformation on July 25, 2010 and began serving in October of the same year.

©2019 Lutheran Church of the Reformation
Created and Edited by Bob Appleton