Founded in 1846, St. Matthew's Church has served prominent and well established members of Detroit's black community. The combined influence of businessmanWilliam Lambert
and William Monroe, first pastor of Second Baptist Church,
drew members to the new congregation. St. Matthew's was forced to close during the Civil War due to declining membership. Many members had fled to Canada to escape the effects of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. The Reverend Monroe resigned and emigrated to Liberia. In 1881 the church reopened, becoming the center for reform groups and self-improvement clubs. Among St. Matthew's well-known ministers were former professor Charles Thompson and Robert Bagnall, organizer of Detroit's chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.