Nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ built His Church—and promised that it could never be destroyed
Our Church history is vital to our understanding of this institution and of the Baptist Church. Much is to be gleaned from the events between the time our ancestors dreamed about building this church, some 86 years ago until the present.
From There to Here
In 1932, a small group of people organized a club known as the Busy Bees. Mrs. Leroy Lyons was the first president of this club. It was out of this group that the Mt. Olive Baptist Church was formed on February 27, 1933, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur Gills. There were thirty-two people who became charter members of the church. Some of the early members were Deacon George McCorey, Brother Leroy Lyons, Sister Silvellia Gills, Sister Opel Rodgers, Sister Elnora Buchanan and Brother Wilbur Gills.
The Rev. James Arnold was the moderator of the Recognition Council. The Rev. F.C. Jones and Rev. Epps were also members of the Council. Rev. Matthew Toomey became the first Pastor of the Church. He served for a period of four years from 1933-1937. Reverend Toomey added many souls to the congregation under his leadership.
In 1938, the Rev. W.G. Wilson was extended a call from the church. He came and served faithfully for two years. The church progressed under his administration. Reverend Wilson resigned because of illness.
The First corporate of this church was as follows: Brother Felix Weathers, Chairman of the Deacon Board; Brother George McCorey, Chairman of the Trustee Board; Brother J.W. Irby, Superintendent of Sunday School; Brother Willie Rodgers, Treasurer, Sister Henretta Woods, Sister Silvellia Gills, Secretary; Sister Katie Lee, Mission President; Sister Mary McCorey, Choir President; Sister Opel Riders, Usher Board President; Sister Lily Jefferies, President of the Mothers' Board.
The Rev. O.C. Thomas succeeded Rev. Wilson in 1941 and was instrumental in the construction of the first church building in the present location. This building was completely destroyed by fire in 1944. Rev. E.L. Todd served as interim Pastor for a few months after Rev. Thomas resigned.The Rev. R.B. Bradley was called to the pastorate of this church in 1946 and served until May of 1958. Under the leadership of Rev. Bradley, the church grew rapidly spiritually, numerically and financially. The building was enlarged; a nursery, choir loft, pastor's study, and the finance room were added. Parking space and the house next to the church were purchased and paid in full.
The Rev. James Paris Wilson was called to the pastorate of this church in October, 1958. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Pastor Wilson came to us from the Third Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. He was a 1942 Graduate of Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio and Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio.
Church Building in 1959
Pastor Wilson at ground breaking
Remodel in 1969
Under Pastor Wilson's leadership, the church underwent several major renovations and the membership grew to over 500 members. In 1962, ground was broken for a $135,000 addition, which included the educational wing consisting of 20 classrooms and a basketball court. A major renovation was completed in 1969. The nave of the church was enlarged and additional classrooms added in the basement area and a Pastor's study was erected.
Thirteen auxillaries were active in supporting and organizing an array of special projects throughout the year. The congregation was also a major supporter of projects sponsored by the Wolverine State Baptist Convention.
In 1990, under Pastor Wilson's leadership, Mt. Olive dedicated its church annex, now known as the J.P. Wilson Fellowship Hall, on the ground level. The new fellowship hall is barrier free, with easy access to classrooms and sanctuary. The facility was constructed by MCS Construction Company and financed debt-free by the loyal membership through tithing and liberal offerings at a total cost of $343,648.
In 1993, after the retirement of Dr. Wilson, an associate minister of Mt. Olive, Rev. Eddie J. Williams consented to serve as interim Pastor. Rev. Williams had been a faithful member and helper to Dr. Wilson and the entire congregation. He was responsible for maintaining the church programs that were in place. Dedicated to the call of Christ, Rev. Williams served the Mt. Olive congregation with a humble spirit until the Rev. Nile E. Smith, Jr. , received the call to Pastor Mt. Olive in 1994. He was the former pastor of College Grove Baptist Church in Texarkana, Arkansas. Pastor Smith served here as pastor for two years. During those two years, Mt. Olive continued to be a leading congregation in the city, state and nation among National Baptists.
Again, the Rev. Eddie Williams was asked to serve as interim pastor. He readily agreed to serve and hold up the banner for Christ. Rev. Williams served until Mt. Olive called Rev. Marvin T. Smith, a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, who accepted the partnership that was ordered by the Lord in October of 1998.
A profound teacher and preacher, Pastor Marvin T.
Smith came to Mt. Olive from Mt. Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Since coming to Mt. Olive, Pastor Smith was instrumental in establishing several new ministries, including Media ministry and the single's ministry. Seven new "trained Deacons have been added to the Deacons Ministry; television and radio broadcasts of preaching and teaching sessions are aired weekly. A mission and vision statement have been developed that encompasses the goals that Mt. Olive seeks to attain in promoting the Kingdom of Christ.
A Tuesday noon bible study and prayer and praise service has been initiated under Pastor Smith's administration. Attendance at Sunday School, Sunday morning services, mid-week Bible Study and various other services has increased tremendously. A new members' class, taught by the Pastor, was established to accomodate those new to the congregation to the workings of the Baptist Church, in general, and Mt. Olive , specifically.