St. Matthew Trinity Lutheran Church has a rich and unique history. The church we know now was formed in 1974 with the merging of two existing congregations: St. Matthew Evangelical Lutheran Church (est. 1891) and Trinity Lutheran Church (est. 1893). What made this merger extraordinary was that the two congregations came from very different Lutheran backgrounds. St. Matthew Evangelical Lutheran Church was a member of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, which was seen as a more conservative branch of Lutheranism in the United States, and Trinity Lutheran Church was a member of the Lutheran Church in America, which was viewed as the more liberal branch of American Lutheranism. United in their faith in Jesus Christ, these two congregations merged these very two different Lutheran families into one. Now known as St. Matthew Trinity Lutheran Church, the Pawtucket congregation had dual membership in both the Missouri Synod and Lutheran Church in America until the congregation voted to affiliate itself solely with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (the successor to the Lutheran Church in America).
Besides coming from different Lutheran denominational backgrounds, the two churches also differed ethnically. Trinity Lutheran Church was primarily made up of Swedes while St. Matthew Evangelical Lutheran Church was made up of Germans. Like its forbearers, the congregation of St. Matthew Trinity Lutheran Church is a multicultural one. Today, the church boasts a large Liberian population. As Liberian refugees began to settle in Rhode Island when they fled the atrocities of the Liberian Civil War, they found a religious home that welcomed them in the name of Jesus. The church embraces the multiculturalism that has played a pivotal role in its history since the church’s inception.
Relying on the grace of God, St. Matthew Trinity Lutheran Church hopes to continue the good work first started in the nineteenth century well into the twenty-first century.