The Rt. Rev. Matthew Foster Heyd has become bishop coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, ordained and consecrated on Saturday, May 20, at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.
Bishop Heyd has served the diocese since he came to New York as a young adult, first launching Episcopal Charities then rising to National Director of an innovative program called Do Something, which connected high school students to volunteer opportunities to improve their communities.
Eleven months from now, upon the retirement of the Rt. Rev. Andrew ML Dietsche, Bishop Heyd will lead a diocese which stretches almost 100 miles from Tottenville on the south shore of Staten Island all the way to the little town of Callicoon in rural Sullivan County, practically on the banks of the Delaware River, on the border with Pennsylvania.
But 20 years ago, Bishop Heyd began a decade of ministry and service at Trinity Church Wall Street.
“In the Trinity Grants Program, we were searching for a New York Metropolitan Program Officer, when I had breakfast with Matt on Ascension Day 2003,” recalled the Rev. Canon James Callaway. “He was the ideal candidate we had been following for several years, and gracefully he said yes, and came to Trinity.”
During the next decade, Matt managed Trinity's local, national, and international financial grants. As director of Faith in Action, he played a major role in developing the parish’s Brown Bag program to serve Trinity’s neighbors in Lower Manhattan who were in need of a meal, as well as planning and organizing the Mission & Service initiative.
“Thanks to his leadership, care and commitment, we were able to develop strong relationships with church and community leaders in New Orleans, Panamá, Haiti, Burundi, and right here in New York City,” said Maggy Laraque, who coordinated the program for Trinity.
“On mission trips, the Rev. Matt ensured that our physical work was buoyed by inspiration, prayer, and care for his volunteers,” said Regina Jacobs, a Trinity parishioner. “Somehow, we sensed bishop-hood was in his calling.”
This writer recalls how in early November 2012, with the city paralyzed in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Matt called several of us to gather at the Trinity office, not an easy task since power failures prevented the subways from operating south of 34th Street.
Matt’s idea was for us to climb in the dark stairwells to the top floors of high-rise buildings where the elevators didn’t work and distribute bottled water and sandwiches in brown bags to mostly elderly residents.
Matt spearheaded similar efforts in other buildings and helped organize volunteers to travel to Staten Island to muck out flooded homes and, three months later, to assist in the process of starting to rebuild.
During his decade at Trinity, Matt discerned and followed his call to the priesthood, with ordination in 2009. People in his home state of North Carolina quickly recognized the gifts of leadership; Matt was a candidate for bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina in 2012, when he had been an ordained priest for only a few years.
In 2013, Father Matt left Trinity to answer a call to serve as rector of the Church of the Heavenly Rest, explaining, “I want to be a parish priest.” That decision came as no surprise to David Jette, then serving as verger at Trinity.
“Matt’s context of faith was broad and far-reaching,” Jette remembered. “He displayed a wisdom that we often associate with older people but bloomed early in Matt’s character.”
“Matt’s ability to see the best in people and offer them a space to explore and learn widely contributed to my transformation and growth over the years,” added Maggy Laraque. “He was always available for our team to find time for respite and to have fun.”
The Rev. Matt Heyd served as rector at the Church of the Heavenly Rest for 10 years.
“Matt’s energy is contagious and he inspired hope and action in the congregation and among the staff,” said the Rev. Anne Marie Witchger, Associate Rector and Chief of Staff at the Church of the Heavenly Rest.
“He always said that pastoral care was the most important thing we could do. When we care about each other, and when we know that we are cared for, anything is possible.”
In December 2022, he was elected bishop of a diocese that includes three New York City boroughs (Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island) and seven counties within and even beyond the Hudson Valley, an area that includes almost 200 parishes, worshipping in 12 different languages. Bishop Heyd will serve as chief pastor to 50, 000 people who are members of The Episcopal Church, and countless other persons living in the communities within the diocese.
“I’ve known and worked with Matt for nearly sixteen years, first as a lay leader at Trinity Church Wall Street, and for the past nine years as director of parish administration and pastoral associate at Church of the Heavenly Rest,” said Tapua Tunduwani, Director of Parish Administration & Pastoral Assistant at the Church of the Heavenly Rest.
“This is the moment for Matt’s energy and passion for ministry, as well as his vision for renewal and optimism about the future of the church, and communities yearning for God’s love and justice,” Tunduwani added.