The Rev. Matt Heyd’s Legacy: A Ministry of Transformation
by Jeremy Sierra
Some would be surprised to learn that Fr. Matt Heyd harbors a love of Coke Zero (“His only vice,” says his wife, Ann) or that he likes to put Baked Lays potato chips in his sandwiches. No one would be surprised, however, that when I asked him if I could write a profile about him he suggested I write about the rest of the Faith in Action staff instead.
“Humble,” is just about the first word out of everyone’s mouth when you ask about Fr. Heyd, whose last day at Trinity was last week after ten years on the Trinity staff. He has been called to be the Rector of the Church of the Heavenly Rest on the Upper East Side beginning in June.
On Ascension Day 2003, Fr. Heyd had breakfast with the Rev. Canon Jamie Callaway, then Deputy of Trinity’s grants program, to discuss working in the grants department. Leaving exactly ten years later, on Ascension Day 2013, Fr. Heyd has left an indelible mark on the community.
He was ordained four years ago. Though, “he was pastoring us before he was a pastor,” parishioner Toni Foy likes to say.
“He would listen and he would talk to us,” said Parishioner Roz Hall at a celebration on Sunday, May 5. “He would let us sound off. Which we did.”
The congregation wished farewell to Fr. Heyd his wife Ann, and his children Jack, and Mary Ella.
Parishioner Emory Edwards recalled looking for a job a few years ago. Before an interview, many wished him well. Matt gave him a necktie. “I got the job,” said Edwards.
“While our work as ministers is functionally important,” said congregational council president James Gomez in an email to the community, “Matt challenged us to see our work as a means to an end rather than an end. That is, to see ministry as a gateway to relationship and relationship as the gateway to transformation.”
In addition to being an important pastoral presence and collaborator, Fr. Heyd has helped build up Trinity’s Faith In Action department.
“He’s one of the brightest souls that I’ve met,” said Fr. Lonell Wright, the former vicar of Trinity’s partner, All Souls Episcopal Church in New Orleans, who worked with Matt for years.
“Matt and I formed a real friendship of mutual respect and love,” he said, “and that’s the other thing about Matt – he always respected other people, wanted their opinions.”
“He gives you room to grow,” said Maggy Charles, Program Director for Mission and Service.
The vestry passed a resolution recognizing Fr. Heyd’s achievements during its April meeting. As Director of Faith In Action, he has overseen the launch of Trinity’s community space, Charlotte’s Place, the Brown Bag lunch program, and Trinity’s homeless outreach, the strengthening of Trinity’s relationships within the Anglican Communion, and the growth of the All Our Children initiative for private support of public education.
Of course, he would be the first to say he did not do this on his own.
“One of the greatest gifts Matt has given Trinity is a strong Faith in Action team,” said the vicar, the Rev. Canon Anne Mallonee.
“He is a priest who believes profoundly in the capacity of the Church to nurture leaders,” said the Rector, the Rev. Dr. James Cooper, “and as Matt prepares to leave the parish, the leaders he has supported stand ready to deepen their many ministries.”
“Everything we do, we do together,” said Fr. Heyd. “That has been the thing that has had the deepest transformative impact on my life and my ministry.”
Read the Vestry resolution below:
The Reverend Matthew F. Heyd has accepted a call as the 10th Rector of the Church of the Heavenly Rest, NYC.
Father Matt, as he is affectionately called here at Trinity, has served for ten years at Trinity. As Director of Faith in Action at Trinity Wall Street, he has modeled Christian leadership and discipleship in his tireless efforts to work for a world of good, inviting broad engagement from Trinity's Congregation, Staff, Trinity Fellows and Partners, locally and globally.
As head of Trinity Grants, he has nurtured Trinity's partnerships in the Anglican Communion and within the Episcopal Church, further developing a strategy for sustainability for the Church and ensuring sustainability of prized relationships.
He has reconnected the parish's historic commitment to raising up the next generation through All Our Children. He has galvanized volunteers, built constituencies across sectors in New York, and convened with other Episcopal Churches involved in similar ministry, driven by a vision that every child receive good education.
He has led the parish to find innovative ways to reach out to those with the greatest need, by developing the Brown Bag lunch program, Charlotte's Place neighborhood center, and a partnership with the Bowery Resident Committee through the Alliance for Downtown New York.
He has strengthened the bonds of friendship and service among parishioners, partners, and friends through Mission & Service trips to Panama, New Orleans, Burundi, and Long Island City, New York, and has laid the groundwork for expansion into Haiti.
He planted the idea of 1,000 Volunteers in the parish, inspiring the expansion of ministry opportunities and individuals involved. His support of congregational ministries has been deeply appreciated by all those involved in Witness and Outreach, especially Prison Ministry, Task Force Against Racism, Stewardship, Collections, and Lenten Meditations. He has led the parish to respond with love and compassion to crisis. During the Occupy Wall Street Movement, he offered leadership that was clear, compassionate, reasonable, and prophetic. He led the door-to-door effort to check on neighbors in Lower Manhattan and Staten Island following Superstorm Sandy.
He has been a model of passionate preaching, authentic pastoral care, genuine servant leadership, and profound Christian faith. His ministry has been marked and will be remembered for his collaborative spirit, kindness, excellence, and care for others in the congregation and staff, personifying Trinity's mission to love God, love neighbor, near and far for a world of good.
Matt, his wife, Ann Thornton, and children Jack and Mary Ella will always be in our hearts and prayers with profound gratitude.
RESOLVED: the Rector, Church-Wardens, and Vestry of the Parish of Trinity Church express our thanks for the leadership and guidance of the Rev. Matthew F. Heyd and wish him Godspeed in his new ministry.