Brown Delivers Opening Prayer for U.S. House of Representatives

Speaker Pelosi, Rev. Matthew Southall Brown, Sr., House Chaplain Daniel Coughlin, and Congressman John Barrow
Speaker Pelosi, Rev. Matthew Southall Brown, Sr., House Chaplain Daniel Coughlin, and Congressman John Barrow

Rev. Matthew Southall Brown, Sr., pastor emeritus of St. John Baptist Church was at the U.S. Capitol to deliver the opening prayer for the U.S. House of Representatives as Guest Chaplain on Wednesday, Nov. 18.

Born and raised in Savannah, Rev. Matthew Southall Brown, Sr., served his country with valor in World War II. At a time when the armed forces were still segregated, he was one of the 2,221 black soldiers who volunteered for infantry duty during the Battle of the Bulge.

After being honorably discharged, Rev. Brown returned to his native Savannah to attend college under the G.I. Bill of Rights.

He later took over the ministry at Savannah’s historic St. John Baptist Church, “the Mighty Fortress.” Over the next 35 years, Rev. Brown led his congregation, becoming not only a strong voice in the pulpit, but a major leader in the fight for equality during the Civil Rights Movement in Savannah.

Currently, he serves as a member of the Savannah Board of Ethics, having been nominated by Mayor Otis Johnson and the Savannah City Council.

“I’m humbled and honored to be able to welcome Rev. Matthew Southall Brown, Sr., to Washington today,” said Barrow. “A devoted father, grandfather, great-grandfather and husband, Rev. Brown has dedicated his life to service, not only to his family, but to his church, his community, and his country. He’s spent his life giving back to others, inspiring his congregation, and helping people find strength in times of adversity and hope in times of tragedy.”

The guest chaplain program is sponsored by the Office of the Chaplain of the House of Representatives. Guest chaplains must be recommended by current members of Congress, and each member of Congress is allowed to recommend only one religious leader per Congress.

Opening the House of Representatives in prayer is a tradition that began in 1789 with the first Continental Congress. For more information about the Office of the Chaplain, visit chaplain.

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