Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Matthew (New York City)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Coordinates: 40°51′21.64″N 73°56′3.8″W / 40.8560111°N 73.934389°W / 40.8560111; -73.934389

St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Lutheran Ch of Atonement of Our Savior Bennett Av 189 jeh.jpg
The congregation has been located at 178 Bennett Avenue since 2006
General information
Town or city New York, New York
Country United States of America
Construction started 1671, 1673, 1729, 1767, 1822, 1841, 1847, 1906, 1926, 1956[1]
Completed 1671, 1673, 1729, 1767, 1822, 1841, 1847, 1906, 1927, 1957[1]
Client St. Matthew's German Lutheran Church[2]
Design and construction
Architect John Boese (1903)[2]

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Matthew is the oldest Lutheran congregation in North America. The congregation belongs to the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. Since 2006, the congregation has been located at the Cornerstone Center, 178 Bennett Avenue, New York, New York 10040. The congregation has been known by different names, only acquiring the name St. Matthew in 1822 and using it exclusively since 1838.[3][1][4]


The congregation was founded 1643 by Dutch Lutherans in New Amsterdam but the church was not chartered until December 6, 1664 after the British took control of the colony in April 1664, by the new governor Richard Nicolls.[1]

The first church building was constructed in 1671 on the present Broadway site of Trinity Episcopal Church outside the walls of the city. This was destroyed in 1673, and the congregation constructed a new church to the south of Rector Street and Broadway named Trinity Church. This structure was later described as a "cattle shed" and replaced with a new stone edifice called Trinity Church dedicated on June 29, 1729.[1]

German members succeeded from congregation in 1750 and purchased a brewery on Cliff Street, which became Christ Church Lutheran. That year, the Rev. Henry Melchoir Muhlenburg began to serve the church, starting a parish school in 1752. Trinity Church was destroyed during the New York Fire of 1776. The records escape the fire and the congregation thereafter worshipped in the Cedar Street Scotch Presbyterian Church. In 1784, Christ Church Lutheran united with Trinity Lutheran Church as the United German Lutheran Churches in New York City. After the merger, services are held in the former Christ Church at Frankfort and William Streets, which had been built in 1767 and was known as The Old Swamp Church.[1]

The congregation was one of the founders of the New York Ministerium in 1786.[1]

An English-language Lutheran church was founded and built in 1822 on Walker Street, at the east end of Broadway, called Saint Matthew’s Church. Always in debt, it is sold in 1826 for $22,750 after United German Lutheran Churches declines to help the church. Shortly thereafter, the building was resold at the same price to the United German Lutheran Churches, and the result is referred to as "Christ and Old Trinity". The congregation maintains both buildings with Christ Church speaking German and St. Matthew's Church speaking English. Christ Church is sold in 1831 and the congregation meets in St. Matthew's until 1838, when the congregation assumes the name St. Matthew's with predominantly German services. From May 1840 English services were no longer held due to German immigration and the huge turn- out for the German services.[1]

There are a number of off-shoots from the congregation:

  • St. Paul’s German Evangelical Lutheran Church, now located on West 22nd Street, is founded in 1841 by St. Matthew's former pastor.[1] [5]
  • St Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church is founded in 1847 as a branch church of St. Matthew's, subsidized by Trinity, the Old Church.[1]
1852 Pewter Medal of the Church of St. Matthew at Walker Street, New York City, obverse
October 31, 1852. Pewter Medal of the 100th Anniversary of the German Evangelical Lutheran Church in New York City

In 1852 the United Lutheran Churches of New York celebrated their 100th Anniversary.

In 1868, St. Matthew's sold its Walker Street church and, as the German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Matthew in the City of New York, acquired the former Broome Street First Baptist Church (New York City) on Broome and Elizabeth Streets. The Broome Street church was the site of the 1881 founding of Concordia College (Bronxville, New York), formerly Concordia Collegiate Institute of the Missouri Synod. St. Matthew subsidized the institute until its 1893 move to Hawthorne, New York.[1]

The chapel at 145th St

In 1885, St. Matthew left the New York Ministerium to join the more conservative Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and other States, predecessor of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) to which it still belongs.[1]

In 1903, St. Matthew's built a brick and stone church and a three-story residence for $25,000 at 300 West 9th Avenue[clarification needed] at 44th Street to designs by architect John Boese of 280 Broadway.[2]

In 1906, St. Matthew erected a mission chapel at 145th Street and Convent Avenue. The Broome Street church closed in 1913 and the congregation moved to the 145th Street and Convent Avenue mission chapel.[1] Nearby at 145th Street and Convent Avenue, the church built a four-story brick and stone parish house in 1908 at a cost of $50,000 to designs by architect John Boese[2]

St. Matthew's merged in 1945 with Messiah Mission Church in Inwood, Manhattan and moved into that church building. In 1956, a new church was begun at 202 Sherman Avenue, Inwood, completed in 1957. This was sold in 2006 and the congregation moved south to the Cornerstone Center on 178 Bennett Avenue.[1]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Rev. Peter Debra, "A Timeline of a History of St. Matthew" (Accessed 27 Dec 2010)
  2. ^ a b c d Office for Metropolitan History, "Manhattan NB Database 1900-1986," (Accessed 25 Dec 2010).
  3. ^ Rev. Peter Debra, "Timeline of Messiah Mission Church," (Accessed 27 Dec 2010)
  4. ^ Rev. Peter Debra, "About Us" (Accessed 27 Dec 2010)
  5. ^ Deutsche Evangelisch-Lutherische St.-Pauls-Kirche New York, German, retrieved 5 March 2014.


  • Dunlap, David W. From Abyssinian to Zion. (2004) New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-12543-7

External links[edit]