Shortly after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, in 1867, a small group met in the home of Major Lane to organize another African Methodist Episcopal Church in Raleigh. They were familiar with St. Paul AME and wanted to be a part of the same organization. Their first pastor was from St. Paul and the new congregation was called, " Little Methodists".
They purchased an old hospital which they fixed up to be their church which stood on New Bern off the corner of Seawell Avenue. They remained here until 1910.
In the years 1910 and 1911, the Reverend A.D. Avery came and completed a new church and held its first Annual Conference and cornerstone laying in 1912. Bishop L. J. Coppin was the Presiding Bishop.
In 1929, the building was torn down under the administration of Reverend R.E. Ligion and in 1930, we entered the basement unit of a new building. In 1948, Reverend L. M. Thompson's administration also witnessed the purchase of the parsonage on East Cabarrus Street. Some other ministers who have served included the Reverends Grey, Fairly, Upshaw, Williams, Troublefield and Epps.
The Reverend David L. Morrison led the church to a major remodeling project, lowering the ceiling in the sanctuary, adding carpeting, air-conditioning, and purchasing new pews and pulpit furniture.
Following Reverend Morrison, Reverend Ralph L. Stephens served as pastor from 1975-1992. During this time the church realized a new vision for its ministry in Raleigh. In 1980, four acres of land was purchased on Bennett Street, from Mrs. Rebecca Weatherford. The building project was stepped up under the leadership of the President Pro Tem of the Stewart Board, James C. Stewart, who organized many fund-raising activities, including chain letter solicitation, and banquets under the umbrella of "Project Build".
The building on Davie Street was sold and the congregation had their last service there was held in October 1986. the church arranged through Mrs. Norma Haywood, principal of the Emma Conn Elementary School, to hold services in the school until the new facility could be built.
In April 1987, the Ground-breaking Service was held on Bennett Street. Bishop John Hurst Adams, the Presiding Bishop, described it as a "clear and worthy vision" that St. Matthew should build a new edifice to the glory of God. Mr. George Parker and Mr. James Stewart were the first to break the new ground. There were a faithful few members who kept the faith while worshipping in the school They continued to tithe consistently and gave generously to the building fund.
St. Matthew opened the doors of the new home in November 1990. The Fellowship Hall was dedicated to the memory of James C. Stewart, who had passed on before seeing the completion of the new facility. The kitchen was dedicated to Essie Dunmore, one who had worked long years in the church, and had given tireless support for the building fund, even as she grew in years. On Sunday, November 18, 1990, the formal dedication and unveiling of the cornerstone was held. The symbolic keys to the building were given to the Rt. Reverend H. Hartford Brookins, Presiding Bishop. Reverend Marion B. Robinson, who two years later, was appointed to serve as Pastor, presided at the dedication.
The church continued to realize the vision under the leadership of its present Pastor, Reverend Marion B. Robinson. New organizations have become an active part of the Ministry of St. Matthew, including the George Parker Men's Club, Women Empowered to Pray Together (W.E.P.T.), an Outreach Ministry, Couples & Singles Ministries, Teen Ministry, Saturday Enrichment Academy, After School Program, the Golden Circle, and the Bereavement Support Group.
The new church steeple was dedicated on January 23, 2003 by Bishop Vinton R. Anderson, Presiding Prelate of the Second Episcopal District.
Under the leadership of Reverend Marion B. Robinson, in the year of 2006, the vision continued to grow. We installed a state-of-the-art sound system and made renovations to the kitchen. Also, many other ministries as well as school programs were added. In the year 2007, with strong leadership, hard work, and through the grace of God, we were blessed to be able to retire the mortgage on the edifice at 1629 Bennett Street, ELEVEN years early.
On Sunday, November 11, 2007, the mortgage was burned during the celebration of the 140th Church Anniversary. Befittingly, Bishop John Hurst Adams, who presided over the Ground-breaking Service, officiated.