Dr. Christian William Matthews Jr. had his Homecoming to Heaven on Friday, March 6, 2020, at the age of 85 due to complications from cardiovascular issues discovered a few weeks ago. Chris was surrounded by his family as angels surely escorted him into the Lord’s presence.
Chris was born on October 12, 1934 to Christian and Lydia Matthews in Jersey City, New Jersey. As a young boy, he would lead prayers at his dad’s evangelical park meetings. In high school he was one of two students in his state selected to attend Boys Nation in Washington DC. He studied history at Kings College, where he met the love of his life, Elaine. After getting his Masters of Education from the University of Delaware, he volunteered with the youth group at Manoa Presbyterian and through that experience he felt called to full time ministry. He graduated from Princeton Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Grove City College in 1988. He began his ministry as the Youth Pastor at First Presbyterian in Norristown, Pennsylvania. He went on to Marble Collegiate as the Staff Administrator and Young Adult Pastor under Norman Vincent Peale. His first Senior Pastor position was at Fox Chapel Presbyterian in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania followed by a 20-year pastorate at Christ Presbyterian Church in Toledo, OH. After celebrating retirement at 65 in Toledo, he went on to serve as interim Senior Pastor at Second Presbyterian in Baltimore, Maryland for 4 years and then served as interim Senior Pastor at First Presbyterian in Grand Haven, MI for 2 years.
Chris and Elaine relocated to Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2013. Chris was a vital, active resident of Cook Valley Estates and member of Mayflower Congregational Church. Chris treasured his time with family and friends. He enjoyed gatherings for birthdays, holidays, celebrations and especially the family reunion every summer at the lake.
Chris was a faithful witness of Christ’s love to everyone he knew or met and his impact on people will be remembered. He ministered to so many people over the years through speaking, teaching and counseling. He encouraged and inspired people. He performed countless weddings, baptisms and funerals.
He embodied the verses from 1 John 4:15-16 “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love, whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” Chris was an inspiring conduit of God’s love, joy, comfort and grace to so many people. His hope would be that anyone reading this would seek to know Jesus Christ personally.
In Pittsburgh, Dr. Matthews was a founder of the Contact Telephone Crisis Counseling Center, organized the Pittsburgh Fellowship, chaired the Ecology Study Commission, served on the Allegheny County Human Service Commission and was President of the Fox Chapel Rotary. He was involved early on in the Prison Fellowship Ministry founded by Chuck Colson.
In Toledo, he was a founder and served on the board of Trustees of the Samaritan Counseling Center. He was a trustee and member of the Executive Committee of The Ability Center of Toledo, an organization which provides services for people with special needs. In 1990, while serving on this board, the Americans with Disability Act became law. Chris was instrumental in bringing Young Life to the Toledo area. He was a member of the board of Adopt America. He served on the Erie Shores Executive Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the board of the James C. Caldwell Community Center and The Interracial Religious Coalition. He was member of the Toledo Rotary.
Dr. Matthews was involved in the Fellowship, Washington, D.C.; the First International Congress on World Evangelism, Lausanne Switzerland; the Congress of the Laity; and the International Leadership, Bermuda . He served as pastor pro-tem of the Liberton Church, Edinburgh, Scotland and was involved in leading a number of mission trips including; Koinonia Farms, Americus, Georgia; the West Virginia Mountain Project, Ministries in Action in Haiti and Presbyterian ministries in Central America.
Chris is survived by his loving wife, Elaine of 65 years, by his son Chris and wife Claudine of Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, daughter Patti and husband Jim Lee of Gainesville, GA, daughter Judy and husband Greg Grotke of Evergreen, CO, daughter Barb and husband Paul Glashouwer of Grand Rapids, MI, and four grandchildren, Christian William Matthews IV, Olivia Matthews, Lydia Glashouwer and Robby Lee.
There will be a private graveside service on Saturday, March 28 at 1pm at Lake Forest Cemetery in Grand Haven, Michigan.
A special Memorial Service Celebrating the Life of Chris Matthews will be at 11:00am, Saturday, June 13th, 2020 at Mayflower Congregational Church 2345 Robinson Road SE, Grand Rapids MI 49506.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to:
Young Life Western Great Lakes Region
3347 East Beltline Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
The Ability Center
5605 Monroe Street,
Sylvania, OH 43560