About Us

Growing in Faith. 
Growing in Fellowship. 
Growing in Service to the World. 

Meet Our Staff

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Rev. John Bletsch, Pastor

Pastor John Bletsch is a lifelong United Methodist who grew up in Youngstown, OH. He was a religion and psychology major at Mount Union College in Alliance, OH before going to Duke Divinity School for seminary.

For 20 years, Pastor John served as a pastor in the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. He spent 4 years in Charlotte and then 16 years in Greensboro.

Pastor John and his wife, Rhonda, moved their family to Pennsylvania in 2014. Rhonda is the chair of the Theology Department at Eastern University, and Old Testament scholar, a university professor, and an author of a textbook on the Old Testament. She has also written numerous articles in the area of biblical studies.

Pastor John and Rhonda met while pursuing graduate studies at Duke University. They have been married for more than 20 years and have 3 sons: Jonah, Ethan, and Daniel.

Pastor John fully believes that our United Methodist heritage is one of the best ways to walk the path of discipleship as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. He loves teaching the Bible, as well as running, playing the guitar, and cooking. He also enjoys the same things as his 3 boys, which includes Legos, video games, comic books, superheroes, and science fiction stories.

If you have a pastoral emergency, please call 610-714-7008.
Laura

Laura Bonstingl, Office Manager

Laura is a member of St. Matthew’s. She joined our staff as the office administrator in June 2006. In addition to being the office manager, Laura serves as the administrative assistant to Pastor John Bletsch.

Laura graduated from Penn State with a background in business and advertising. She has 2 adult children and enjoys bringing her love of people and her creative ideas to St. Matthew’s.
Vica

Victoria "Vica" Jones, Director of Children, Youth & Family

Vica earned a Master of Theological Studies in Christian Faith and Public Policy from Palmer Theological Seminary, as well as a BA in Bible / Religion and a BA in Youth Ministry from King University. She served in the Children and Family Ministry at the Baptist Church of West Chester and in the Student and Children's Ministry at Pleasant Ridge Christian Church in Greensboro, NC.

Vica and her husband joined our church on September 1, 2015.
Martha

Martha Koeneman, Music Director & Organist

Martha is a skilled performing artist with over 40 years of professional musical experience and proficiency as a soloist, accompanist, and church musician. She serves as the principal and solo pianist for the Pennsylvania Ballet Association in Philadelphia, PA. She also teaches private piano lessons at the Wayne Art Center. We are extremely blessed to have Martha on our staff!
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Linda Guzzardo, Financial Administrator

Before coming to St. Matthew’s, Linda worked at Unisys Corporation for 20 years.

She worked in the marketing division, in accounting and finance, and even the administrative side of customer service.

Our Heritage

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You will find St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church of Valley Forge located in northeast Tredyffrin Township on the south side of Walker Road between Thomas and Old Eagle School Roads, directly across from MacIntosh Drive. The church building itself was built on a field that used to be part of the Rehobeth Springs Farm. 

Our colonial-style church was constructed using the $150,000 earned from the sale of the Philadelphia church building, as well as a $75,000 loan from the Methodist Board of Missions. The 10-acre plot was gifted to us by the Philadelphia Conference Board of Missions and Church Extensions. (Not sure about this.-SJT)

Our church has a seating capacity of 300. The Sunday School rooms originally were found in the basement, along with kitchen facilities. In 1968 we added an education wing which provided classroom space for Sunday School. In 1970 we consecrated the new parsonage.

Our congregation moved from Philadelphia to Valley Forge in 1958. The original St. Matthew Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in Philadelphia at 53rd and Chestnut Streets in June 1888. Col. Joseph M. Bennett of Arch Street Methodist Episcopal Church donated the land. Later, he gave a very generous amount of his own finances to assist the new congregation.

In November 1888, John F. Keaton and 7 trustees drew up a church charter. The charter was granted by Judge D. Newlin Fell, which is recorded in charter book 13, page 583, in the office for recording deeds in and for the city and county of Philadelphia.

On October 28, 1888, a Sabbath School was arranged in 2 rooms that were rented from Mrs. Kilpatrick at 5152 Chestnut Street. Mr. Frederick Saunders Underhill was the first Sabbath School superintendent and later became the first pastor of the church.

Work on the brand-new church building soon followed, and the cornerstone was laid on June 24, 1890. Thanks to rapid construction, the first church service was held in the finished building on January 25, 1891. At the time, the church was known as St. Matthew's in the Field, which indicates the amount of development in Philadelphia at the time.

The ground for the parsonage was broken on July 2, 1902. The completed parsonage was eventually occupied on April 1, 1903.

The new church began with 22 members. At its peak in 1940, there were 800 members. After the church building was sold in May 1958, membership dropped to 200. The Philadelphia church property was purchased by the White Rock Baptist Church. Their congregation still occupies the building.

The final Sunday at the 53rd and Chestnut Streets Church was on May 18, 1958. We had worshiped at that church for 70 years. The next Sunday, May 25, 1958 our congregation met at the church house, an old farmhouse, on Route 202 with 93 people in attendance. On March 22, 1959, which was Palm Sunday, the meeting place was moved to the Valley Forge School and 126 people attended.

The congregation continued to meet in the school while the new church was being built on Walker Road. The cornerstone was laid on June 5, 1960. The first service in the new building was a candle-lit service on Christmas Eve in 1960. The Consecration service took place on January 8, 1961, and was officiated by Dr. Frederick Brown Harris, Chaplain of the U.S. Senate.
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