Cornerstone Fellowship FWB Church’s pastor is Rev. John Matthews
by Laura Stone | July 1, 2018 4:55 am
Last Updated: June 29, 2018 at 5:03 pm
Reverend John Matthews was born and raised in Manning. He entered the U.S. Army after high school, where he became an analyst with Military Intelligence. During his 16 years there, he earned the Bronze Star, taking a medical retirement after the Gulf War.
While in the Army, Matthews took college courses, first earning an associate degree in civil engineering and eventually a PhD in philosophy from West Texas A&M.
After his military retirement, Matthews turned down the opportunity to continue his intelligence work with government agencies. Instead he chose to return home to Manning to be with his family in 1992.
When he returned, Matthews drove trucks for a year, followed by several two years of odd jobs around the community. One of those jobs was to help build the new building for First Freewill Baptist Church, which is now the building for Cornerstone Fellowship Freewill Baptist Church where he currently pastors.
Matthews answered the call to become a pastor in 1995 and went to Pee Dee Bible Institute in Marion, where he earned a certificate. Matthews then filled in at various churches for the next 13 years.
Matthews was approached to pastor the newly formed Cornerstone Fellowship Freewill Baptist Church in 2008. At the same time, the pastor of First Freewill Baptist Church retired, and through a reorganization, the two congregations united. The new body retained Cornerstone’s name and First Freewill’s building.
Cornerstone is a member of Eastern Conference of the South Carolina Freewill Baptist Association. As a fundamental church, they teach and live by the Word of God.
““We are pro-Bible. We will stand by the Word of God, and like the old song, ‘Like an oak standing by the waters, I shall not be moved,’” said Matthews.
Matthews is actively involved with the South Carolina Pastor’s Alliance. He is also involved with Palmetto Family Alliance out of Columbia, and through them he is a member of the Nehemiah Network.
“It’s a loose gathering of pastors from all different denominations standing for the Word of God,” said Matthews. The members go to the state house to speak with the legislature. They offer to pray with and for the senators and representatives and offer moral views on current issues.
“[The Nehemiah Network] is not politically affiliated. It’s not about politics. It’s about making a moral stand for the Word of God,” said Matthews. The group remains actively involved in trying to help the state reset its moral compass. “We have drifted way off course, and we need to bring it back in line,” said Matthews.
Cornerstone, through it’s association, helps support a hospital on the Ivory Coast of Africa with medical supplies and support a missionary in India. The association also provides funding to children’s homes in Tennessee and Arkansas, retirement homes in upstate South Carolina, an Arkansas facility for drug addicted youth offenders and an unwed mothers’ home in Tennessee which gets medical care for the mothers as well as teaches them how to parent and helps them obtain jobs.
Within the community, the 82-member church maintains a food locker to assist families who need aid, and they often reach out with other forms of assistance when needed. The church also provides holiday meals to indigents and shut-ins.
“That’s something me and my family did, and the church family took that over. They began to run with it during the holidays. We want everyone to have the same opportunities,” said Matthews.
Matthews has been a long-standing member of the Clarendon County GOP. For the last four years, he has served as the Sargent at Arms for the Clarendon County GOP, and Cornerstone has hosted the GOP monthly meetings. Although he has no personal political aims, he feels people need to be involved.
Matthews takes no salary from the church. “I didn’t come here to get rich. It’s not about the money. It’s not about position or status,” said Matthews, who intends on staying with Cornerstone for many years.
“I love the small church atmosphere. I love to be able to see people and to know people, to be part of their lives, to be part of their families,” said Matthews. “I could be wherever I want to be. I want to be here. I am happy here. I am at peace. I am comfortable where I am.”