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A Proud Past. A Strong Present.
A Church Going Forward.

The current church building, which sits at the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd and W Anderson St.

St. Stephen’s Church (1855-1943)

  • St. Stephen’s was the first Episcopal Church founded for Black people in the Diocese of Georgia.  The first services held in a workroom over Cleghorn Bakery located on Perry Lane.  Mr. James Porter, a lay reader and later President of the Vestry, lead the initial services. 

  • In 1871, St. Stephen's called its first Rector, the Rev. J. Robert Love. Father Love was also the first Black Episcopal clergyman in Georgia.

  • In 1872, Fr. Love opened the first kindergarten for Blacks in Savannah. 

  • The Rev. Richard Bright was ordained in 1892, and he served for 21 years.

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, celebrates over 160 years of service and worship in the Diocese of Georgia.  We are grateful to God and to the many faithful clergy and lay people who have aided our work and mission in Savannah.  Their commitment and labor have given us a strong base on which to build our future.  We thank God who has called us to labor where we have been planted.


The congregation that became St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church was organized in 1855.  The Church split in 1872 during Fr. John Robert Love’s tenure and St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church which was organized in 1872. 


On September 24, 1943, the congregations reunited and St. Matthew, the Apostle and Evangelist, was chosen as the patron saint.  On November 25, 1948, the cornerstone was laid for the new building of St. Matthew’s Church.  The opening service in the completed building was held on February 25, 1949.


St. Augustine’s Church (1872-1943)


  • In 1872, Fr. Love left St. Stephen's to found St. Augustine's mission congregation. The initial services were held in a rented hall in Yamacraw Village.

  • In 1875, the first church building was completed.

  • A school for Blacks was established in the church under Fr. Love’s leadership.  The Savannah Boys Club, the Urban League, and Tuberculosis Clinic all met at St. Augustine’s Church.

  • The Reverend J. Henry Brown took charge in 1918.

St. Matthew’s Church (1943–Present)


  • St. Matthew's was founded in 1943 from the merger of St. Stephen’s and St. Augustine parishes.

  • The current building was completed in 1949.

  • The Rev. Gustave H. Caution was chosen as Rector of the new parish in 1946. Formerly, he had been the rector of St. Stephen’s Church. Father Caution served until 1968. 

  • The Reverend Harry Nevels, a former altar boy at St. Matthew’s, served as Rector from 1968 until 1974.  

  • The Day Care Center was established in 1971, during Father Nevels' tenure.

  • The Reverend Charles L. Hoskins was Rector from 1975 until 1996.

  • The Reverend Joselyn L. Angus was Rector from 1997 until 2005.

  • The Reverend Cheryl Parris was the parish's first female Rector, serving from 2007 until 2012.

  • In June 2016, St. Matthew's Church called the Rev. Guillermo A. Arboleda as Priest-in-Charge. He was called as the sixth Rector of St. Matthew's on January 1, 2019, and served until April 2024.



At right is the stained glass window next to the pulpit at St. Matthew's Church today. It represents Saint Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist. He is remembered as both:

  • One of the twelve disciples of Jesus; he is the former tax collector who left his post when Jesus called, "Follow me" (Matthew 9:9);

  • And, the author of the Gospel according to St. Matthew; he probably wrote the Gospel account in the 70s AD to a primarily Jewish-Christian audience.

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