Meet The Pastor: Matthew Hanisian


The Severna Park Voice is helping the community learn about the pastors at the many churches in the area. This month, we got to know Matthew Hanisian from St. Martin’s-in-the-Field Episcopal Church.

How long have you been at St. Martin’s-in-the-Field?
I’ve served as the rector at St. Martin’s-in-the-Field since May 2016.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a pastor?
Like a number of people who eventually hear God’s call to the priesthood, I resisted that call from God for the better part of a decade. My father is an Episcopal priest, and growing up, I was asked several hundred times if I was going to be a priest like him. My answer was always an emphatic “no!” Finally, in 2006, I came to the realization that I needed to be a priest and serve God. Ever since saying “yes” to God, my life has been far greater than I could ever have asked or even imagined.

What is your favorite thing about being a pastor?
My favorite thing about being an Episcopal priest is being in relationship with so many wonderful people. On a deeper note, I feel truly blessed that people trust me to walk with them during times of great fear, pain or suffering as well as in times of great joy and happiness. Also, baptisms are always special moments in my priesthood.

Can you tell me about a moment in your life where your faith grew?
About five years ago, I was leading a group of youth and adults on our annual, week-long Appalachia Service Project (ASP) mission trip. At one of the evening gatherings, an adult leader commented to the group that everyone in the room was there because I had introduced ASP to their churches — there were youth and adults from the Episcopal Diocese of Washington where I had served previously, and youth and adults from St. Martin’s, about 120 people total. My faith grew not because of the recognition, but because I saw how many young people were learning how to put their faith into action, loving their neighbor as themselves as Jesus commands us, and seeing what real change they could make in the world by doing so. It was truly a holy moment.

Do you cook? What is your favorite meal?
I can cook and love to cook; everything on the grill is my specialty. That said, being married to a Parisian-trained French chef means that I’m not the best cook at our house … by a long shot.

If you’re not at church or at home, where could we probably find you?
You can probably find me on a golf course, working on the rule: “one chip; two putts.”

Did you pick up any quarantine projects or hobbies?
My son and I built a coal forge in our backyard, and we took up blacksmithing. We’ve since upgraded to a propane forge and enjoy banging metal into all kinds of shapes, knives and implements. The best part is that we’ve shared this hobby with several other friends and their sons, so we have a growing community. Being a “maker” is both creative and very satisfying.

What's a fun fact about you that most people don’t know?
Kurt Vonnegut and I took a stroll once, ahead of a lecture he gave at Indiana University — quite an interesting and entertaining half hour.

Do you follow sports? What is your favorite team?
I try to follow sports — and used to a lot more before moving to Maryland. My favorite two teams are the Indiana Hoosiers men’s basketball team and the Cincinnati Reds, my hometown baseball team.

What is an item on your “bucket list” that you haven’t check off, but really want to?
I would like to restore a classic British convertible at some point in my life.

What is your favorite type of music to listen to?
I like to listen to a variety of music. But right now, I seem to be listening to a lot of blues: T-Bone Walker, Elmore James and John Lee Hooker primarily.

What is the best thing about St. Martin’s-in-the-Field?
Of course, the best thing about St. Martin’s is our parish family. But, in particular, the best thing about St. Martin’s has been our ability to change and adapt how we do practically everything “church” while continuing to grow and become even more vibrant than we were before the pandemic. Truly the holy spirit is present here.


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