A History of St. Matthias Episcopal Church
[Founded in 1865]
St. Matthias Episcopal Church was founded in 1865 by Gen. and Mrs. James Green Martin. Mr. Martin was a citizen of North Carolina, and Mrs. Martin was a member of the well-known King family of New York. They started their work in Trinity Episcopal Church.
Each Sunday afternoon Gen. and Mrs. Martin met with a large group of blacks for the purpose of being drilled in catechism, and teachings of the church. This went on Sunday after Sunday, much to the surprise of many who had said it would not work, but it did work, and as a result of the very fine work done by Gen. and Mrs. Martin a small building was erected for the exclusive use of what had become a congregation.
In 1870 the first black minister of the denomination was sent to Asheville to carry on the work. The minister was the Rev. S. V. Berry, a man with long experience in the ministry, having served for many years as a missionary in the West Indies. Under Rev. Berry's wise leadership the congregation grew very rapidly. But Rev. Berry's age and poor health brought an end to his mission work. He was followed by a Rev. H. S. McDuffy who was also a great spiritual leader, and a good businessman. The present church was built under his leadership.
The present church was built by the Miller Construction Church, which was a father and sons corporation, which was known for the building of great churches.
Saint Matthias has had a number of great men, but none of them have surpassed the Rev. H. S. McDuffy, who served the church for 18 years.