St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church hits milestone

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 6, 2013

St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, 9275 Bringle Ferry Road, will celebrate the 175th anniversary of the organization of the church on April 14, 2013.
The church was established April 15, 1838.
The celebration will begin with Sunday School at 9:30 a.m. and worship service at 10:30 a.m. in the sanctuary, followed by an outdoor picnic lunch.
The worship service will include two short meditations, one by a son of the congregation, the Rev. Bill Ketchie, “Looking Back” and one by Pastor Gary Coble, “Looking Forward.”
The anthem, “I Know that My Redeemer Lives,” arranged by John Behnke, will feature St. Matthew’s senior choir, handbell choir and Tony Shepherd on trumpet. Peggy Hoffner is the organist and Beverly Ludwig serves as music director.
The service will include uplifting hymns of celebration and recognition of any visiting former pastors.
Historical memorabilia will be displayed in the Family Life Center along with letters from former pastors and friends of the congregation who are unable to attend.
Afternoon festivities will include time to socialize and renew friendships, old fashion games for the children and cornhole games for teens and adults. In case of inclement weather, the lunch will be held in the Family Life Center.
The day’s events will conclude with music in the Family Life Center at 7 p.m. featuring the Hinshaw Family from Durham.
In the early history of the church, the congregation shared pastors with other neighboring Lutheran churches because of the shortage of ministers.
Thirty-five pastors have served the congregation during the church’s 175 years. The Rev. Gary Coble is the current pastor, having served St. Matthew’s since 2003.
Ketchie is the visitation pastor and Shalyn Barrier is president of the Church Council.
The original church site was across the road from the present facility in what is now the cemetery.
The existing church was built in 1883 and one of the first services held in the new facility was to host Lutherans at the Western Conference of the North Carolina Synod.
The church was expanded in 1924 adding an east and west wing. These wings were more than doubled in size in 1948 when Sunday school classrooms were added.
The Fellowship Hall was completed in 1959. Much of the labor up to this point was donated by members of the congregation along with donations of lumber and other building supplies.
The interior of the church was renovated in 1985.
In 1990 the Educational Building and a corrider, connecting the facility to the church, were built.
Three years later the wings of the church were renovated and a second corridor was constructed.
On May 6, 2011 St. Matthew’s dedicated a newly constructed Family Life Center.
The congregation holds dual membership in Lutheran Churches in Mission for Christ and the North American Lutheran Church.
In addition to the church, the complex includes fellowship hall, educational building, Family Life Center, parsonage, garages, playground, scout shelter and cemetery.
Throughout St. Matthew’s history, the church’s ministry has been Biblically based, and focused on youth, family and those in need while maintaining a commitment and responsibility to reach out in benevolent ways to the community, nation and world.
The history committee, chaired by Beverly Ludwig, has spent the past two-and-a-half years researching the history of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church and as part of this celebration.
The church has published a 480 page copyrighted hardbound book of this history from 1838-2013.
Diversified Graphics of Salisbury has worked closely with the committee and is printing the book, which includes approximately 200 written pages based on historical records, more than 400 pictures, church rolls of members, list of baptisms dating back to 1838, alphabetized list of grave locations of all plots in the church cemetery, pictures of members, present and past, who have served in the military dating back to the Civil War, a brief history of the community as it affected the congregation and memories shared by church members of past events.
The history book will be distributed following lunch to those who have purchased one.
Anyone interested in purchasing a book may contact the church at
As part of the year-long celebration, a congregational pictorial directory has just been published.