Savannah Remembers The Life of Rev. Matthew Southall Brown, Sr.


Reverend Matthew Southall Brown, Sr., Pastor of St. John Baptist Church “The Mighty Fortress” for over 35 years, passed away on Sunday, November 21, 2021 at the age of 99 of nat- ural causes.

Religious leader, Reverend Matthew Southall Brown, Sr. was born on July 16, 1922 in Savannah, Georgia to Christopher Frederick Brown and Helen Robinson Brown. In 1943, Brown graduated from Cuyler-Beach High School in Savannah, Georgia and enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served in World War II as a non-commissioned officer and was assigned to a support unit. Following his military service, he attended Georgia State College and earned his B.D. degree from the American Baptist Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee in 1961. Brown also studied at the University of Miami, the Division of Addiction Sciences with a grant from the City of Savannah.

Brown was ordained as a minister in 1961 in the Historic First African Baptist Church. The following year, he accepted a position as a pastor at First Smyrna Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia. In 1963, Brown became a pastor at Royal Missionary Baptist Church and then St. John Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia in 1969, where he led his congregation through the renovation of the church. In 1986, Brown dedicated St. John Villa, formerly the East Broad Street School, as a housing complex for the elderly and the handicapped. In 1988, the Matthew Southall Brown Resources and Learning Center was named in his honor. Brown then hosted a morning radio show called “Thought for the Day,” which aired on Clear Channel Radio WSOK 1230 AM. In 1991, Brown then published, The Best of Pastor Matthew Southall Brown, Sr.’s 6:30 a.m. Meditative Thoughts. Brown retired as pastor of St. John Baptist Church in 2004 as pastor emeritus. He founded the Boys’ Summit in 2010.


In 1971, Brown was appointed by Judge Alexander Lawrence as chairman of a biracial school advisory board. Brown also served as chair of the Emancipation Association beginning in 2013. He was also recognized and honored for his service to his community. In 2013, Brown was recognized by the National Baptist Convention for more than fifty years of service.

Brown is survived by his four children: Maxine Jones, Leonard Brown, Christa Stephens, and Matthew Southall Brown, Jr.

Bynes-Royall Funeral Home is in charge of the services.

The Community service will be held Friday, December 3, 2021, at 6:00 pm at the Savannah Civic Center in the Johnny Mercer Theater.
A Private, Celebration of Life Service will be held Saturday, December 4, 2021, for the family.

5 thoughts on “Savannah Remembers The Life of Rev. Matthew Southall Brown, Sr.”

  1. It’s with much sadness I learned of my Pastor/ Friend leaving this earth. It’s with much joy and peace to know that he is escorting Lottie along the golden strand, once again helping her select another gorgeous item of apparel!
    To his children/grands I pray that you will always let his teachings be in the forefront of your minds!

  2. This one hit us hard. But, we rejoice in knowing he in the arms of our God. A life well lived, indeed. A giant in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you for your service to so many. From Savannah, to other parts of the world. May the Lord comfort and keep your family and the many who love you. I am blessed to have called you pastor. Diane Brown Roberson, Tameca, Jasmine and family

  3. To the family of Pastor Brown, my condolences to you all. I was one of the children who grew up on Hartridge Street. When Pastor Brown and I first met, the first thing he said to me was, I’m going to call you “Bright Eyes” and he did. Even though he was a busy man, he always made time to fit you in his schedule. While preparing himself for a revival, which was located in South Carolina at the time he still insisted to marry my husband and I in October of 2004. Even when I had my daughter in December 2006, he and Mrs. Brown made time to visit at the hospital looking for “Bright Eyes”. When he held my daughter for the first time, he then gave her the name , “Little Bright Eyes”. He will be sadly missed and my family would like to say, thank you for sharing him with us. He will never be forgotten.

    Sincerely and with prayers,

    “Bright Eyes”
    One of the children off Hartridge Street

  4. I remember when I was a young woman and had to go into the hospital for a procedure and asked him to to pray for me. He asked me when I was having it and said he would come to my home. The day before it was storming outside , raining very hard and thundering and lightening. Someone rang my door bell and it was him and Miss Lottie. I said to him “Pastor Brown you didn’t have to come in all this rain” . He said “Vera I told you I was coming.” He will be missed. He almost made it, 8 more months.

  5. To the Brown Family, our condolences to you who was the preachers “Spiritual Father” who raised up many preachers here in Savannah; I am one of them. He was also a delight to see him at any time. He had wisdom like no other I met and always enjoyed his talks publicly and privately. He now belongs to the ages where time is no more where he can his eternal rest.
    We love Pastor Brown and will be forever missed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.