Father Matthew Moretz of Christ Church, Rye, New York of YouTube fame by Peter Menkin
by Peter Menkin 11/21/2010 / Education
Curate of Christ's Church, Rye, New York, USA, he makes YouTube videos aimed at Episcopalians and finds his viewers in the United States and United Kingdommainly. He does this work "on his own time," for in reality he is a working Priest in a Parish with responsibilities of the usual pastoral kind. That work alone keeps him busy.
He has a wife, they have a dog named Beauregard and a puppet that is a monkey whose name you'll discover when viewing his YouTube creations.
In the following interview Father Matthew agreed to answer questions and did so from his office in his Church by telephone. This writer was glad to get to talk with Father Matthew, who at this time continues his YouTube work which is found here.
Before the interview starts, this quotatation from a newspaper in Yonkers, New York (Yes, a small town in New York State, USA).
Priest's video blog inspires laughs, faith
By Hannan Adely
The Journal News
(Original Publication: February 6, 2007)
St. Paul's Episcopal Church closed in February 2005 because it had few remaining congregants, and has since gone through reorganization. It opened again in September, with the recently ordained Moretz on board as an assistant priest to help revitalize the church.
St. Paul's has held concerts and festivals to draw neighborhood residents to the church, and it has started youth programs. But Moretz wanted to do more in the realm of the Internet to appeal to a younger generation. He said he thought, why not use YouTube to open doors?
"One of the things I look at all the time is YouTube. It's something that is trendy, alive and interesting," he said.
Moretz likes that other priests want to follow his lead and that he has achieved a bit of fame in the Episcopal world, with his videos being posted on popular spiritual Web sites and forwarded among friends. He said he hopes the messages he delivers will help the Episcopalian church revitalize its ranks.
This is a good story, and I hope it will interest readers as your YouTube work is charming and so educationally helpful.
That's its goal. That's concise and it's true. It allows people in a casual informal atmosphere to learn about the basics of their faith, if their Christian. It's not manipulative. Its goal is to share and to explain.
I was thinking this morning about talking to you, and wondering if you know where your main audience is located. Have you many people in the west? How about Europe, though that is not so likely, I suppose.
It's mainly people in the United States and the UK. YouTube provides me with data and they'll show me a map. It's different for every video. It's not a trend. There are a lot of viewers who are baby boomers, greatest generationers, and not all young. A smattering of other places. Maybe that's just the travelers.
Also, if you were to choose 4 or 5 YouTube's to show, which would you go with? Are you submitting one to the Guggenheim competition at YouTube?
The ones I recommend for first time users are the ones I use for the sign of the cross using my puppet friend Regina. And one where I summarize The Book of Common Prayer in four minutes, the book that is used by the Episcopal Church. I used post it notes. I've one that is a funny dream sequence with my friend Jehosephat. St. Francis Sabotage. Recently I took a trip to Jerusalem with my wife where I filmed a two parter, where I went through the Stations of the Cross. Those would be the four.
How long does it take to make one of your videos? Who runs the camera? Do you write a script, or wing it?
From script to distribution, probably about eight hours for five minutes. I do. I'm a priest in an active parish. I do it take by take as I can. I fill it in in the cracks of my daily responsibilities. My wife did it when we were in Jerusalem. I write a script. It depends on if there is research involved. It is more like writing a poem, it is varying. A five minutes script is only 300 to 500 words. I have to have drama and movement in it. There are stage directions in it.
Does someone screen them prior to uploading?
My wife does. Sometimes we change things. Mostly it's edits. Rather than scrapping something. I rely on her opinion. If I can make her laugh, I feel like I've done a good job.
How do you get your topics?
I work in a Church and a very healthy and thriving church in Rye, New York. I get to see what their questions are. I try to answer their questions in Christianity. One question at a time. I try to keep them at a basic level, so that they might be foundational.
Sign of the Cross: Regina is often misunderstood. She helps me around the church with various tasks and is quite diligent. But, like all of us, she gets frustrated when things don't turn out the way she wants them too. She is a good soul with a scary set of teeth!
Did you ever imagine you would be putting YouTube on the internet prior to going to your new Church? Whose idea was it to make them, and how did you come to the idea?
I've been doing the YouTube videos since my ordained Church and I'll be doing my YouTubes at my next Church. That will make two Churches.
Do you get many letters? Is there one in particular you remember?
Many. From both Christians and atheists. Or lapsed Christians. Maybe ten a month. I get little notes, maybe three a day. When I post a video there are a lot of emails I get. Rarely letters. But sometimes. A letter from an official in Peru, and he sent me a little Jehosephat puppet. It is a monkey knitted with a banana. It would fit Jehosaphat's hand. I featured that little puppet in my Book of Common Prayer video.
What kind of duties do you have at your Church besides YouTube? What is a Curate? What does he do?
I officiate at funerals, baptism, I preach, I teach both adults and young people. They are the regular priestly duties. I have regular pastoral care; I perform weddings. I love this job. A Curate is an Episcopal term for an Assistant Priest in the United States.
Stations of the Cross: This video is the product of my pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I wanted to give people in their homes a taste of this holy megaplex from the standpoint of one who was a pilgrim, not a tourist. I hope that showing the Stations of the Cross in the Old City of Jerusalem encourages more Christians to make the journey.
Have you children? Do you live within walking distance of the Church? Have you given a sermon on YouTube making or a particular YouTube?
No children, but a puppy named Beauregard. He'll be in a video coming up. Yes, I live in Rye close to the Church. Usually my sermons are about the reading for the day. I respond to the Biblical readings that are appointed for that day.
I noticed that you recently do more puppet work in YouTubes you offer. Why is that?
Well, I like the danger in making a video in YouTube is it is a talking head. What is more interesting is a dialogue, a drama, my puppet friends I am able to interact with someone. I tried editing it talking to myself, but that seemed narcissistic. It is a way to not make it staid. Really, Church is fun. Church is about community and joy. I hope that translates with the videos. That's just not the Church's public face.
Are you a professional movie maker, and where did you learn to do this YouTube creation, script writing, presentation work so well?
I'm not a professional movie maker; I learned it from books and watching others work. And trial and error. I'm still honing the craft. It's a wonderful art form, a rhetorical style like a sermon and the fifteen minutes speech vs. the five minute video.
Is there anything I haven't asked you'd like to add, or a statement you'd like to make?
I have a homepage called http://www.fathermatthewpresents.com/, and I have a Facebook page called FatherMatthewPresents. (Anyone may sign up.) I actively spend a lot of time at conferences around the US talking about my YouTube. There are DVD's available on Amazon.com. Those are collections of YouTube videos. Some people like to have one for educational purposes. Other Churches are using them in their Christian Education to start a class or close a class, on an informal basis.
Unction: Father Matthew Presents the Sacraments
The Rev. Matthew J. Moretz is the creator of the "Father Matthew Presents" series of video blogs. The light-hearted pieces focus on issues of faith and ministry from the perspective of an Episcopal priest. The series is a close-up view of the Episcopal Church in the 21st century. Father Matthew seeks to present the treasures of Christianity one video at a time.
His faith began at the Church of the Good Shepherd while being raised in Augusta, Georgia. He had some excellent mentors as an adolescent, participating in youth programs throughout the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia. He discerned a call to the priesthood during and after his undergraduate at Davidson College. Father Matthew worked at Christs Church, Frederica in St. Simon's Island, Georgia as a Christian Education Director and Youth Minister, before attending the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in New York City.
The Rev. Matthew Moretz is the Curate of Christ's Church, Rye, NY, one of the oldest Episcopal parishes in the United States.
Father Matthew lives in Rye, NY with his wife, Dr. Melanie Moretz, and their two cats Daisy and Belle.
Peter Menkin, an aspiring poet, lives in Mill Valley, CA USA where he writes poetry. He is an Oblate of Immaculate Heart Hermitage, Big Sur, CA and that means he is a Camaldoli Benedictine. He is 64 years of age as of 2010.