One Lincoln County church recently celebrated its 175th anniversary with congregation members dressing in 1800s garb during a service.
St. Matthews United Church of Christ, located on Maiden Highway in Maiden, commenced as a “meeting house” in 1837, according to church history documents, but board of trustee members secured the property a year earlier.
In 1838, the church accrued 25 acres of land for establishing a cemetery and an arbor for camp meetings, which took place each year until 1845 when a blaze destroyed the structure, documents said.
Church members rebuilt the arbor nearly 150 years later.
Perhaps, St. Matthew’s is most largely known for starting a young men’s ministry, Catawba College, in one of the church member’s camp meeting tents. After serving the Newton area for more than six decades, the college moved to Salisbury, where it still operates to this day.
In the early 1900s, the church committee drew up plans to build a brick building to house the St. Matthew’s congregation, officially dedicating the nearly $2,500 facility in 1921, but it wasn’t until 1939 that the church operated on electricity.
The community viewed the new house of worship as “one of the finest rural churches in the county,” documents said.
In 1934, St. Matthew’s renamed itself from German Reformed to Evangelical and Reformed after the parent denomination, the Reformed Church of the United States, united with the Evangelical Synod of North America. After subsequent mergers, the church is part of the United Church of Christ.
In 1950, a parsonage was added to the church property along with a fellowship hall, kitchen and classrooms a decade later and stained-glass windows in the 1980s.
From the church’s initial leader, John Fritchey in 1837 to Raymond Jachowski, who has pastored St. Matthew’s since 2008, the house of worship has welcomed more than 20 ministers.
In honor of the church’s historic milestone this year, members have put on a number of festivities since May including a Spring Fellowship day of games and food as well as day for former pastors to jointly participate in a Sunday morning worship service.
In addition, St. Matthews’s celebrated its annual homecoming last month and have had church historical items on display for number of weeks this year.
Destined 4 Glory also performed at a special church event, and members flashed back two centuries one Sunday by wearing outfits and accessories similar to clothing from the 19th century.
“What I most enjoy about leading and caring for St. Matthew’s are the people, who have shown themselves to be a loving and caring congregation,” Jachowski said. “The church is not made up of brick and mortar but is made up of the people, who are the body of Christ in this holy place.”
St. Matthew’s currently boasts a membership of nearly 260 people, not counting children.