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Church History

St. Matthew School History

The inception of St. Matthew Baptist Church evolved from Blacks worshipping at New Hope Baptist Church located on Louisburg Road. It was at New Hope that our forefathers, even in their state of poverty, depression, sorrow and being downtrodden, gave praise to a Mighty God. In those days Blacks were taken to church on Sunday (in order that the master could keep watch over them), placed in a closed balcony area where they could view the service but not participate.

In 1871 Blacks had a desire to establish "Their Own Church", after hearing of their plight and knowing of their deep desire to have their own place of worship, the Rodgers Family of New Hope Baptist Church donated the land. After praising and giving thanks to God for the land gift, the men set about cutting trees and clearing the land while the women cooked and fed the crowd in preparation of building "Their Own Church". It was with sheer guts, willpower, and by the Grace of God that they pressed forward. Day after day, week after week, cutting and clearing the land after having worked all day in the fields picking corn and cotton, harvesting tobacco and vegetables until at last, December 1871, a log church was completed and christened "St. Matthew Baptist Church", The Little White Church on the side of the road.

As the records indicate and folklore recall, the first Pastor was believed to be Rev. Stephen Blake. The first building was constructed of logs and had the bare earth as its floor. Church service was held once a month and mule and wagon provided transportation to and from Church. Hitching post to tie the mules was as common then as paved parking spaces are today. Homecoming Service was the delight of the year. It was filled with spirit-filled preaching, melodious singing, good fellowship and delicious food. It was a day long service enjoyed by the young and the old. The ladies would cook all week in preparation of bringing a basket filled with homemade pies/cakes, white potato salad, candied yams, collard greens, green beans, cabbage, fried chicken, pork chops, chow-chow and home made pickles (to compliment the vegetables).

It was later that a small wooden frame structure was erected. As they made their way to Church, the men were dressed in bib overalls and the women wore long dresses made from flower sacks, brogan shoes on their feet, straw hats on their heads, praise on their lips, and the love of Jesus in their hearts. The new frame building had a wooden floor, a potbelly stove was used to warm the parishioners, a well supplied "cool water and the Holy Spirit provided the anointing. Revival service, held annually in the Fall after harvesting time, was the climax of their year of sweat and toil. This was a time to fellowship with neighbors, share joys and sorrows and to testify of the goodness of God for having kept them yet another year. Though not rich in material possessions they were rich in the Holy Spirit.

In 1957 it was again decided that the members had outgrown their present structure and renovation began. During the renovation (1957 to July 21, 1963) service was held in the basement of the Church (while the top portion was being reconstructed). As rain poured under the doors, the potbelly stove was no match for the damp cold air. To help finance the Church renovation the official Board of the Church assessed each member a certain amount of money to pay. Finance Captains were selected to collect the monies. Those appointed ladies appealed to the members of the Church to give their assessment directly to them. On Homecoming Day the Finance Captains would stand before the church to report the amount of monies collected. It was a tense filled moment as the Captains tried to outdo each other by collecting the highest amount of money. After having food sells, cakewalks, fish fries, barbecue sells and giving from their pocket until it hurt, on July 21, 1963 they moved again into "Their Own Church" as praises went up from the basement to the renovated sanctuary. The damp basement air was replaced with central heat, the pews were made of sturdy oak wood, the wooden floor glistened from the shine of Johnson's wax, and the anointing filled the church.

In 1981 Pastor Avery was installed as Pastor, the Holy Spirit took control, and the thirst for the word was acknowledge by alL The church roll swelled with the addition of new converts. We now boasted of two new choirs, one being the Pastor's Plant Bed Choir (Youth Choir), new programs were initiated, choir members were added, the Trustee Board was reorganized, new officers were voted in, the Usher Board added new Door Keepers, and Pastor Avery proclaimed God's Word. Again having outgrown our present structure we entered into yet another renovated facility: larger sanctuary, a Library/Conference Room, Finance Office, choir stand, and classrooms were added. In 2001, as we embarked upon the millennium, we envisioned many years of continued service of maintaining, ministering and reaching out to our fellowman. We had a challenging task before us but God enabled us to achieve new heights, both spiritually and financially. It was during this time that God gave Pastor Avery a vision. He commanded Pastor to write the vision and make it plain, to claim the ground on which we now serve. As Pastor walked and prayed the Holy Spirit took control it was then the building process to begun.

On November 3, 2003, one hundred and thirty-one years after the inception of the little white church on the side of the road, the Lord blessed as we cut the ribbon on a new 2.5 million dollar facility which includes offices for Pastor & Mrs. Avery, administrative offices, 1,200 seat sanctuary, classrooms, stateof-the-art sound and projection system and the anointing ofthe Holy Spirit. God has truly blessed St. Matthew in a mighty way.







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