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The St. Matthew's A.M.E. Zion Church in Sewickley is getting an elevator to make the entire building accessible

The oldest African American church in Sewickley, home to the Daniel B. Matthews Historical Society, is improving its accessibility by adding an elevator.

The church, which is the oldest African American church in Sewickley and houses the Daniel B. Matthews Historical Society, is adding an elevator to improve access.

The St. Matthews A.M.E. Zion Church, located at the corner of Thorn and Walnut streets, has been undergoing renovations over the years to maintain historical authenticity, as it is recognized as a historic landmark by the Pittsburgh History & Landmark Foundation.

Due to the congregation aging, the need for accessibility has been reevaluated during the pandemic. However, Rev. William Rankin believes that the addition of the elevator could potentially attract younger individuals.

Rankin mentioned that the elevator will make it easier for people to enter the building and attend services.

The church has been a venue for various community events, including Black History Month celebrations, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, and the Harvest Festival.

The renovations are expected to be finished this year and are being funded by contributions from community members, the Sewickley Valley Historical Society, the Sewickley Community Fund, and Sewickley Presbyterian Church.

In 2021, Sewickley Presbyterian Church donated $10,000 for the restoration of St. Matthew’s stained glass windows. Although they did not donate for the elevator, they are enthusiastic about the addition, according to Deborah Ash, the chair of mission at Sewickley Presbyterian Church.

Ash expressed excitement about the church's improved accessibility, mentioning the support of the community. She highlighted the enriching opportunity that this represents.

An additional $60,000 is needed to complete the elevator project.

Rev. Rankin emphasized the importance of the elevator for allowing all members of the congregation and the wider community, especially those who cannot climb stairs, to access the building.

At present, St. Matthews is only equipped with stairs.

Rev. Rankin holds an optimistic view regarding the church's future, emphasizing its role in the community's history and its significance in the liberation of enslaved individuals in Sewickley and the Quaker Valley.

He also pointed out the church's symbolic role as a source of hope and salvation for anyone, irrespective of race, due to the light it brings to the community.

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