Rev. Dr. Baxter L. Matthews 1940 to 1967

Feb 07, 2013     by Union Baptist Church     Comments are off

Baxter Leget Matthews was born in Kenersville, North Carolina on April 22, 1895. He was educated in the Kenersville Public Schools. He studied at the Wayland Academy in Phoebus, Virginia; A&T College in Greensboro, North Carolina where in addition to his regular studies, he pursued floriculture. He next enrolled at Virginia Union University, finishing the Academy in 1919 and the College and Theological Departments in 1922. In 1936, Virginia Union University (then known as Union University) bestowed upon him the Doctor of Divinity degree.

During his pastorate in Stamford, Connecticut, he pursued the Bachelor of Divinity degree at the Yale Divinity School, receiving it in 1939. At his graduation, the Dean of Divinity School commended him for commuting over two hundred miles, three times weekly as well as for his excellence in scholastic achievement.

Rev. Matthews pastured his first church in Phoebus, Virginia while a student at Virginia Union. While pursuing his divinity degree at Yale, he pastured the distinguished Union Baptist Church of Stamford, Connecticut from 1923 – 1940. In June of 1940, he married Miss Annie Mae Wilder. In that same year, he was called to be the Pastor of Union Baptist Church, a post he held until his retirement in 1967. Dr. Matthews was then named Minister Emeritus, a post he held until his death in 1984.

While pasturing in Stamford, Dr. Matthews led the congregation in the building of a parsonage and the first section of a new church structure. He vigorously fought for the civil rights of the blacks in Stamford and served on the Mayor’s and the City’s Chambers of Commerce. He was also active in Boy Scout work, was a Supervisor of the Colored Division of the Needy Children’s Camp, and was a member of the Executive Board of the Community Chest. He served as President of the Baptist State Convention 13 years.

At Union, Dr. Matthews led the building of the Harvey Johnson community Center in 1958. In the 50’s, Dr. Matthews taught philosophy at Morgan State College, now University. He also served as an Instructor in the Annual Church-Eide Institute of the United Missionary Baptist Convention of Maryland, the National Sunday school and the B.T.U. conventions, and the Maryland Baptist School of Religion.

An innovator in the Ministry, he was among the first to introduce the pulpit gown as a regular clerical garb in the Baltimore community. In building the Harvey Johnson Center, he was the first to build a community center primarily for youth. The Center also served as a gathering and staging place for many of the civil rights activities of the 60’s and 70’s. Dr. Matthews also established the first active co-pastorate in the Black Baltimore Ministerium.

A Preacher, a Prophet, and Pioneer, who was brave, energetic, sincere, devoted, and with a fine sense of humor, Dr. Matthews was greatly beloved by the membership of Union and throughout the city.

The words of A. B. Koger from Dr. Baxter L. Matthews: A Great Man of Faith, seems a fitting conclusion:
“One thing is certain, whether written or left unsaid, there will be for many years to come, a latent power and influence that will be sustained and regenerated and that will affect the overall success of Union’s influence as a result of the Ministry of this lowly, unselfish Man of Great Faith. Most certainly, and this is the important thing, out Great Head of the Church Universal, will take judicial notice of the fact that Baxter L. Matthews passed this way and wrought in his name to the best of his strength, talents, and ability.”

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