After three centuries, one special weekend at Mattituck church

Sketches by Ken Ackley of Riverhead show the church as it looked in the past. (Credit: Meghan Cavanagh, courtesy)
Sketches by Ken Ackley of Riverhead show the church as it looked in the past. (Credit: Meghan Cavanaugh, courtesy)

Music, togetherness, tales from the past and faith in God are all on tap this weekend as Mattituck Presbyterian Church celebrates its 300th anniversary.

“We really just wanted to give back to the community,” said Meghan Cavanaugh, who’s organizing three days worth of events with her mother, Tammy. “Not only does the community help us so much with fundraisers and outreach, we are opening up this farmers and artisans market day to say, ‘Here’s a little business for all you helped us with.’ ”

Each day of the celebration will center around a specific theme. Friday night will focus on stories, with church members getting a chance to talk about what the congregation means to them. Saturday will embody community and feature a farmers and artisans market, historical tour of the grounds and more. Saturday evening will be filled with music from the bell and chancel choirs, instrumentalists and worship band. The weekend will come to a close with Sunday services.

“Sunday morning is the legacy of worship, which is the purpose of the whole thing,” Meghan Cavanaugh said. “That’s where [the church] started from and what it comes down to. It’s an important way to wrap up the weekend.”

Constructed in 1715, Mattituck Presbyterian Church was built 61 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. And church members are quick to boast that its congregation was founded before the United States was.

Interim pastor the Rev. Patrick Smith said the celebration, and the church’s past three centuries of existence, are important.

“[The anniversary] speaks, first of all, to the faithfulness of God and God’s wonderful love for not only the people of this church but for the people of the East End of Long Island,” he said. “I also think it speaks to how people from all walks of life and at all times and in all circumstances, during these three centuries, have found this church to be a special, inviting and meaningful place.”

According to a pamphlet, the church’s original building was replaced in 1830 and used until 1853, when the present structure was erected. The steeple was added in 1871 and a bell was added in 1877. Its chapel, which was built in 1890, was expanded in 1919. The building was officially named Mattituck Presbyterian Church in 1953.

Most recently, the church was split down the middle and expanded in 1999.

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