Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.
---Booker T. Washington
THE BEGINNING OF A VISION
St. Matthews Baptist Church was organized by an early Miami settler from the Bahamas, Rev. Samuel A. Sampson. In 1905, Sampson organized the first black church, St. Agnes Baptist Church in Coconut Grove, where he was active in religious, civic, and fraternal organizations. S. A. Sampson was also a businessman, community spokesman, and civil rights leader of Colored Town now known as Historical Overtown, while he served as the pastor of historic Mt. Olivette Baptist Church. This magnetic man of God was a member of the Bahamas Baptist Union, of Nassau, NP while he was the mentor and colleague to Rev Nathaniel Francis Clark.
Rev. N. F. Clark came to Miami from Georgetown, Bahamas, by way of Key West, Florida with his wife Margaret Jane in 1899. Rev. N. F. Clark was ordained as a Minister in the AME Church in 1904 and was given the right hand of fellowship with the Baptist Churches of Dade County by Rev S. A. Sampson and Rev. J. W. Drake. Rev. N. F. Clark later became the founder and pastor of St. Matthews Baptist Church in Colored Town on September 11th, 1921.
The meeting place was first in a store front on Eleventh Terrace and Second Avenue, before being moved to a wooden structure at 361 NW 17th Street. The building is no longer there but St. Matthews Baptist Church influenced the community of Overtown for 45 years, under the guidance of its first officers: Deacons John Glass, James Cooper, John Cooper and Brother Tom Davis.
In 1966, plans were drawn for relocating the church and its membership. A building fund committee was appointed by Rev. N. F. Clark with Brother Ben Brice, Chairman of the Trustee Board. The Church flourished under the above name until 1967, at which time the church was renamed to St. Matthews Missionary Baptist Church.
One tremendous June day, in 1967 at 4 PM, Rev. James Pickett of Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church broke ground for a new building, for St. Matthews M.B. Church. To inaugurate the opening of our new church, Rev. Nathaniel Francis Clark cut the ribbon to declare 6100 N.W. 24th Avenue as our new church home. The soil was turned by Rev. Jefford G. Smith, Deacon Albert Humes, Sister Marionetha Wiley, and Sister Louise Moss.
On Saturday, March 9, the 69th day of the year 1968, the officers and members marched into the new building. The dedicatory message was delivered by Rev. Willie Smith, Sr. The Officers were: Rev. Jefford J Smith, Deacon Albert Humes, Brother Eugene Knowles, Brother Harcord Stirrup; Trustees Brother Stanley Saunders, Brother Elvin Bodie, Deacon David Brown and Trustee Chair Benjamin Brice.
St. Matthews was blessed to have Rev. Nathaniel Francis Clark as Senior Pastor until he retired in June of 1969.
The church accepted interim Pastor, Rev. Dr. Philip Clarke, Jr. until October 8, 1972 when he was installed as the Church’s second pastor. Rev. P. Clarke acted as the advisor, teacher, and leader of St. Matthews M.B. Church until 2010. During his tenure many souls were led to Christ and the membership grew. He charged a building committee to restore the church and to build the Nathaniel Francis Clark Fellowship Hall for the purpose of church functions. The Fellowship Hall was erected January 23, 2000 with the assistance of Church Officers: Deacons N. Miller, R.J. Ferguson, and C. James; Trustees, A, Frances, N. G. Miller, W. James, J. M. Moss, E. Dames, R. Campbell, B. Bullard, J. Williams, and I. Garvin. A special ceremony was performed by W.M. David L. Wright 33o, Grand Master.
After 40+ years of faithful service, on February 2, 2011, The Lord called Rev. Dr. Philip Clarke, Jr. home to his reward. In honor of his service to the community and congregation, the City of Miami renamed the street in front of the church to the
"Rev. Dr. Philip Clarke, Jr." street.
In April 2012, Rev. Vincent Brown was called as the third pastor of St. Matthews Missionary Baptist Church where Pastor Brown is providing the vision and leadership needed to positively impact the community for future generations to come. He is committed to the belief that the Church is the salt of the earth and the Light of the world.
Since his election in 2012, many are the accomplishments of St. Matthews under Rev. Brown’s leadership and vision:
- Transportation upgrades - Enabling additional ministry outreaches - Specifically, a new 24-passenger Church Bus and new Van for the Youth Ministry.
- Church property expansion and facility upgrades - Facilities Improvements, remodeling of the overflow room and other areas of the Church facility.
- Community Outreach - Drug Recovery Groups (NA) meeting daily at the Church. Christmas Party for children at Jessie Trice Center.
- Community Support to other Churches, Lodges and community organizations.
- Cultural Awareness - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Outreach and Bahamian Association events.
- Bahamas Hurricane Relief - Hurricane Joaquin (2015) and Hurricane Dorian (2019). Partnerships with local businesses for hurricane relief.
- Growth of the weekly Prayer Service, Sunday School and Bible Study, including virtual online services.
- Prayer Conferences and Summit Sessions throughout the year.
- New Ministries - Men's and Women's Ministry, Grief Care Support Group, and Health & Wellness Workshops.
- New Youth Programs - Queens Academy Mentoring Program for young ladies, Etiquette Class for boys and girls, Scholarship Fund.
- Church website and social media presence to bring St. Matthews into the 21st century technologies.
- Creation of the new Church Logo and Motto: “Making a Difference in the Community, One Life at a time.”
To date, St. Matthews Missionary Baptist Church continues to develop and prosper as led by Rev. Vincent Brown. Ministries are active, membership is growing and the future continues to show the Light of Jesus Christ.