The History of St. Matthew A.M.E. Zion Church
In the gospel of St. Mathew 18:20, these words of Jesus are recorded: “For where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am in the midst of them.”
His word was fulfilled in 1908 when a few black Christian women of different persuasions started an Interdenominational Church and named it Union Church. They held worship services in a house at or near 3816 E 28th Terrace, in their community called Roundtop.
A few years later, three God-fearing pioneers, Mrs. Mary Stewart, Mrs. Alice Quarles and Mrs. Ellen Watson, felt the need for a Methodist Church in the community and began worship services in a tent on a vacant lot at 2801 Mersington.
These three women enlisted the services of two Methodist ministers, Rev. Bennet and Rev. Black to hold a revival and to lead them in purchasing the lot. The lot was later purchased by Bishop L.W. Kyles. (Records are not available as to when the building was erected.)
In 1912 Bishop G.L. Blackwell reported to the General Conference that two churches had been received in the Kansas City District. One of those churches was St. Mathew; the other was St. James, currently known as Metropolitan. Thus our cornerstone reads, “St. Matthew A.M.E. Zion Church, June 19, 1912, Rev. Chapple, Pastor.”
Episcopal leaders having jurisdiction over the Missouri Conference, of which we are a part, were Bishops George L. Blackwell, A.J. Warner, J.W. Wood, J.W. Martin, W.C. Brown, Joseph D. Cauthen, W.A. Hilliard, George J. Leake, John H. Miller, Ruben L. Speaks, Enoch B. Rochester, Kenneth Monroe and presently Darryl B. Starnes.
Presiding Elders who have served the Kansas City District are the Reverends Frank Alstork, S.D. Martin, F.Z. Flack, James F. Gray, George W. Whisonant, Samuel L. Hopkins, Joseph H. Jones Sr., Harvest T. Wilkins, Kenneth Monroe, Michael L. Murray, and presently, Seth M. Moulton.
Pastors appointed to St. Matthew were Reverends Chappel, Canty, S.S. Ingram, Broomfield, J.C. Webb, W.A. Hilliard (later became a Bishop), Ben Blanks, George W. Whisonant, G.M. Howell, Annie M. Webb, Milford S. Vaughn, Jesse L. Williams, Dr. Osofo L.H. McDonald, Terry L. Jones Sr., Herolin Aiken, Vince L. Monden, Lloyd W. McKenzie Jr., D’Andre W. James-Daniels, Kelsey M. Hopson and presently Dr. Charles W. Thurman Jr.
The question may be asked as to why and how did this congregation decide to relocate to Linwood and Kensington?
During the administration of Rev. Jesse L. Williams at 2801 Mersington, additional ground was purchased and plans were drawn to build a new edifice east of the existing building facing Myrtle. This plan failed to materialize. In July of 1977, Dr. Osofo McDonald was appointed pastor of St. Matthew.
On Mother’s Day, May 14, 1978, the old church building collapsed due to its age. We then began to hold our worship services in the nearby Seventh Day Adventist Church located at Linwood and Spruce. Later we held combined services with the congregation of the Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church, 2828 Prospect, while seeking a place to build a new church.
The lots at 4400 Linwood Blvd. were for sale and an agreement was made with the Oakwood Baptist Church. The ground was purchased in 1978 and plans were made to construct a new edifice. The persons responsible for the acquisition of this property and building were Dr. McDonald, Presiding Elder Dr. Joseph H. Jones, and Bishop George J. Leake.
Groundbreaking services were held at the Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church at 11:00 am, March 24, 1979. Immediately following the service, we proceeded to the new building site at 4400 Linwood for the ground to be broken with construction beginning shortly thereafter. The first official meeting held in this new building was the first Check-Up Meeting of the Missouri-Colorado Conference on November 14, 1981. Dr. McDonald presided, and the first sermon was delivered by Bishop John H. Miller.
We are grateful for the vision and the tenacity of these three saints, Sisters Mary Stewart, Alice Quarles and Ellen Watson, who gave life to the St. Matthew African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.
During our history, St. Matthew has come from a canvass tent with dirt floors and kerosene lamps to a pre-cast concrete stone building with wall-to-wall carpeting, padded pews, paved parking lot, gas, water, electricity and central air. For all these things, we are thankful.
To God be the glory for the great things He has done in the life of St. Matthew. We are abundantly blessed.