Church started in funeral home celebrates 40th year

Photos by Timothy Ramsey- Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church was joined by Field of God Outreach Ministries for its 40th anniversary celebration.

Church started in funeral home celebrates 40th year
July 27
05:00 2017

The big churches in a city normally get a lot of the press and recognition for the things they do, and rightfully so.  But the small community churches have and always will be the lifeblood of the community.  Celebrating 40 years, Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church just held its anniversary on Sunday, July 23.

Greater St. Matthew was founded in June 1977 by the Rev. C. Harold Gill Sr. In July ’77, the initial worship service was held at Hooper’s Funeral Home.  The church moved to their current location at 149 N. Wheeler St. a year later. 

The Rev. William J. Purvis Sr., the current pastor, became the pastor of Greater St. Matthew in May 1992.  Purvis’ main focus was to get the church family to attend Sunday school and Bible study to learn the Word of God.  This continues to be his focus to this day.

The church was joined in its celebration by Field of God Ministries out of Winston-Salem, where Bishop Donald Keaton is senior pastor. The service began with a devotional period that lifted the spirits of many in the congregation followed by a choir selection. 

Bishop Keaton delivered the sermon for the anniversary service.  His message was that, even though people may hear a message they may not have absorbed it, so sometimes the pastor has to reiterate the point at a later date.  He also touched on not letting things set us back from our goals in life.

Purvis says over his 25 years as pastor of Greater St. Matthew, he has seen peaks and valleys when it comes to the numbers of the church and the faith of some members.  He says they are now growing spiritually, which is most important.

“We all have to go through something, but thankfully God is growing us back,” he said.  “This is the first time our congregations have worshiped together, but the Word is something that has been spoken before.”

“The Word continues to touch the faithful people that are still here,” he continued.  “The worship service was a blessing and encouraging because no matter what, we have to go on.  I can tell that it blessed everyone that was there.”

Purvis says he would love to see his congregation grow so there are no empty seats in the house.  He says he wants to stay in the same building, though.

“Once we get filled, I want to send members to another church that needs their help,” he said.  “I don’t want to build a bigger church; I’d rather teach them to an empty church that needs help.  Unless God instructs me to do something different, this is what I would love to see 25 years from now.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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