President’s Biography: Dr. Mary J. Matthews

Dr. Mary J. Matthews

Dr. Mary J. Matthews is the International President of the Connectional Lay Council, The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. As International President, she is responsible for the efficient administration of all activities relating to the Connectional Lay Council, including its many benevolent and educational activities.

She is the mother of one daughter, Demetria Upchurch and grandmother of two, Jaylen and Diamond. She is employed with the State of North Carolina at the Department of Commerce, Division of Workforce Solutions in Raleigh, North Carolina.

She is a lifelong member of the Norrington AME Zion Church, Raleigh District, Central NC conference, and the Eastern North Carolina Episcopal District. Her ministry in working with the Connectional Lay Council started in the late 1970’s when she was elected as the local church lay council secretary.   In her local church, she presently serves as lay council president, preacher steward, and chief finance officer. On the district level she served as lay council president for nine years, and presently serves as Director of the Varick Christian Endeavor Society.  On the conference level she has served as Lay Council president, first vice president, treasurer, and financial secretary. She previously served as recording secretary for the Eastern North Carolina Regional Lay Council for 24 consecutive years.

Dr. Matthews has been a leader in the Connectional Lay Council for many years. She has served on the Connectional Lay Council Executive Board for the last 22 years. She was first appointed to serve as assistant secretary of the Connectional Lay Council in August 1997. She served in that position for a full quadrennial and on August 1, 2001 when the Connectional Lay Council met in Akron, Ohio, she was elected recording secretary; and was re-elected to serve a second term when the Lay Council met in New Orleans, Louisiana in July 2005. In August 2009, she was appointed to serve in a dual role on the Connectional Lay Council Executive Board as Convocation Chairperson and as Life Members Chairperson. In these roles, she had the opportunity to demonstrate her stellar leadership capability. She was elected to the Office of President on July 31, 2013 during the 10th Quadrennial Lay Convention in Montgomery Alabama; and re-elected as International Lay Council president in Knoxville, Tennessee in July 2017.

Largely as the result of her leadership, the outreach and educational efforts of the Connectional Lay Council have increased dramatically. Having conducted many lay academies throughout the worldwide A.M.E. Zion Church, she remains deliberate in the mission and ministry of the Connectional Lay Council having travel to 10 of the 12 Episcopal Districts; including traveling abroad to Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Ghana, Western West Africa.

During her service tenure, she has been an effective advocate, for financially supporting Zion’s Institutions of higher learning and other Zion Properties through the Lay Sunday offerings. Having given $25,000 to the Dorothy Walls Conference and Retreat Center, $50,000 to the Harriett Tubman Home, $10,000 to Hood Theological Seminary and $25,000 to Clinton College to establish the Dr. Sally V. Moreland Endowed Scholarship.

 She served as an alternate delegate to the 1992, 1996, and 2000 General Conferences; and elected to serve as delegate to the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 General Conferences. President Matthews is a life member of the Connectional Lay Council, Women’s Home and Overseas Missionary Society, and the International Ministers and Lay Association. She loves God and her Church and is willing to work wherever, praying she can make a difference. Her favorite scripture is Philippians 3:14 – “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”. Favorite Hymn: “I Have Found A Friend in Jesus”.