New St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church
St. Matthew was established during a renaissance of rebirth. The pioneers were eager to blaze the religious and educational trails, for life had taken a new meaning. The year 1890 is believed to be the year of birth for St. Matthew Chapel Baptist Church. This is according to records and interviews with prominent persons of the community.
It is believed that a brush harbor (a make shift church) was the embryo of New St. Matthew. Legend has it that the brush was called “Cashaway Ferry Brush Harbor”. This was the name of the road that ran past the brush harbor. The brush harbor did not sit where the church now sits. It was about a mile east of the present location. There are no records except a grave on the Hamer place that might indicate some date or family name as proof of the existence of the Cashaway Ferry Brush Harbor.
The first pastor was Rev. Walter S. Sanders in the year of 1896. Rev. J.R. Prince in 1910 became the second pastor. Documents show that a purchase of the land was made on November 13, 1897 to trustees in consideration of the sum of $50 dollars. The grantor being Mr. W.H. Manning. The deed was later recorded in February 1902.
Rev. A.T. Campbell was the 3rd pastor followed by Rev. Mack Lester. Rev. J.A. Alsbrook was the firth pastor extending 22 years of spiritual and educational pastoralship. His wife served as church musician. Rev. E. B. Mason followed in 1955, Rev. Solomon was his successor, both serving short terms. Rev. Grady Ware became pastor in 1958. The church originally had two steeples which during Rev Ware’s administration, the face of the church was renovated to one steeple.
Theatmus Brown, Lawrence Brown, Willie Spears, James Leggette and Zannie Parker were deacons. For the sake of accuracy, we need to regress to the years of the 20’s and 30’s when Deacons Richard McNair, Ed Wright, Ander Smith, Lendon Woodley, Walter McNair and Harry McColl served. Mrs. Hattie Mae Washington was Church mother. Afterwards were Mrs. Mary McClain, Mrs. Annie E. Johnson and Mrs. Martha Smith.
Deacons WM (Will) Johnson, William Henry Clark, WM (Bill) Miller and John Stackhouse are some legendary names that remain in the hearts of some older and younger generations. Many, many trustees served as well as church clerks.
The church was called St. Matthew Chapel. Reasoning for being called this is not factual. It may have been an assembly place for school events, assemblies place for school events, assemblies, devotions or school closings. These assemblies were called Chapel programs.
In 1973 Rev. W.C. Graham became pastor. Under his pastoral years the church’s appearance changed to a brick structure and added three Sunday school rooms, pastor study, dining and cooking area, two choir areas, nurses station, playroom, and new lighting.
Rev Harry McGill Jr. became pastor after Rev. Graham. Rev J. W. Cannady came as pastor in 1984. Our present structure was erected under Rev. Cannady. Also, under his Pastorate the first woman was installed as Trustees. The first mass choir was formed and named The J.W. Cannady Mass Choir.
Rev. Rufus Johnson Jr succeeded Rev. Cannady. He established the R.J. Johnson scholarship which a short time later became the New St Matthew, Johnsons Scholarship which is still today on going. After about four years he was called home to be with the Lord and Rev. Markel Graham became pastor, and served for three years and was followed by Rev. George Washington in which the baptismal pool was added. The last present deacon was also ordained. In October 2014, a new church sign was added. In December 2015 Rev. Franklin Washington, our present pastor and spiritual leader proven by God’s merits was sent by God to lead his children. After only 4 ½ months he has shown by example his love for God, the church and church family. Landscaping projects are underway and he has shared other visions for the future. Present associate ministers are Evangelist Evertha Cooper, Rev. Lue Pearl McCall, Rev. Charles Lucas, and Rev. Chante Hepburn. Three have been called into pastoral ministry Rev, Charles R. Johnson, Rev Elliot Hepburn and Rev. Darrow McRae. Present Deacons are Charles P. Brown, Chairman, Willie McClain, Vice Chairman, Zannie Parker and Senior Deacon Lester Collins. Deceased are Deacon Willie B David, James Lucas, and John R. Scott Sr.
Giving God the Highest praise for 127 years of ongoing History. Many excerpts were taken from the Pee Dee Educator newspaper, a black publication and church directory.
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, Thou who has brought us thus far on the way, Thou who has by Thy might, Led us into the Light, Keep us forever in the path we pray.
Respectfully & Joyously Submitted
The New St. Matthew