The St. Matthew Baptist Church rose from its humble beginning in the year of our Lord 1921, over ninety years ago and now towers as a high oak tree in the twenty-first century!
The organizer, Rev. S. Henderson, had a vision that was actualized with an organizational meeting in August 1921 at the home of Sister Lizzie Wallace, and a total of eight members graced the first church roll. Realizing that no organization is complete without workers, the first Deacons were Wash Williams, Matthew Davis, and Lee Burnham. The first officers elected were as follows:
Church Clerk – Azalee Thomas
Mission President – Fannie Davis
Sunday School Superintendent – Matthew Davis
Sunday School Secretary – Lizzie Wallace
Church Treasurer – Bell Williams
Sunday School Treasurer – Alberta Burnham
These loyal members held the fort until re-enforcements came. There were a sizeable number of members on the church roll when the first pastor, Rev. P.E. Castle, was called. Rev. Castle pastored for two years. Succeeding him were Rev. T. H. Henderson of Dallas, and Rev. W. M. Fennell of Hearne. Under Rev. Fennell’s leadership the membership greatly increased in number and spirituality.
The fourth pastor was Rev. S. M. Murphy of Hearne who had the honor of pastoring longer than any of his predecessors. Death drew the curtain on his illustrious ministry in 1960, and Rev. M. L. Williams who served for sixteen years succeeded him. The next pastor was Rev. M. E. Wells who served for four years.
In 1980 the Lord blessed St. Matthew with our current pastor, Rev. Dr. M. O. Cooper. Over the past 30+ years under his leadership, more than 60 preachers have been called to the ministry---many of whom are now pastors throughout the United States. The church’s membership has steadily grown, with many students attending Texas A&M University joining under the Watch Care ministry.
Many physical improvements have been made to maintain and upgrade our house of worship making it comfortable and hospitable to all who attend. Just as the leadership and members are diligent in attending to the physical facilities of the church, much emphasis is also placed on the spiritual needs and growth of St. Matthew. The various teaching ministries include Sunday School; Pastor’s Bible study; Brotherhood and Senior and Junior Women’s ministries. St. Matthew has very active Music and Youth ministries, and an orientation is provided to new members to introduce them to the Mission, beliefs, and ministries of the church.
In 2006 St. Matthew was one of the organizing members of the Greater Friendship District Association with Pastor Cooper serving as the first Dean of the Congress of Christian Workers. In 2010 he was succeeded in this position when he was elected Second Vice Moderator, and in 2013 became Vice Moderator.
St. Matthew is supportive and involved in addressing the needs of the community and became a member church of the Brazos Church Pantry, providing regular financial and volunteer support for needy families in the Brazos Valley. Support to other community services such as the Texas Department of Family and Children’s Services, Phoebe’s Home, Twin City Mission, and the Prenatal Clinic are given through the various Ministries of the church.
Many of the old warriors who were involved in the founding and early growth and development of St. Matthew have now gone to glory, but they have left a strong spiritual foundation and legacy from which their successors, under Pastor Cooper’s leadership, can continue to build on.