It is now over 175 years since the foundation stone of St Matthew’s was laid in Nine Tree Field, at the heart of this vibrant area of Bristol. As a crowd of 15,000 gathered to watch the occasion, Psalm 100 was sung. “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing…” The Church was consecrated less than two years later, in 1835.
Much has changed since 1833. The Parish’s name changed as it merged with St Nathanæl’s in 1984 (becoming officially St Matthew’s and St Nathanæl’s). The original St Nathanæl’s building is now the Elmgrove Centre having been sold in 1989. This helped to finance the conversion of St Matthew’s : there’s a large hall below, whilst worship takes place in the “upper room”.
What hasn’t changed is the purpose of the building. This is where hundreds of people come together to study the life of Jesus and try to learn how to follow His example. This is a place where we worship, pray, sing and, very often, eat. It’s a place where we meet to make space for our Father, where we bring suffering and sin and where we dare to ask for healing and redemption.
It’s a place where various Christian traditions come together; as well as Anglicans, our pews are filled with Christians from various backgrounds. It is a meeting place for any Christian who acknowledges Jesus as Lord. It’s also a place where many non-Christians come, perhaps because they know this is a place where they will, regardless of their beliefs or non-beliefs, encounter tenderness, acceptance and love.
If you would like to know more about the history of the building, the parish and the community then a more detailed history is available.