THE HISTORY OF MOUNT OLIVE BAPTIST CHURCH
“I WIL PRAISE THEE O’ LORD WITH MY WHOLE HEART: I will show forth all thy marvelous works.”
In 1892, First Lynnhaven Baptist Church and Big Piney Grove Baptist Church granted permission to Americus Morgan, Enoch Morgan and Moses Snowden to organize the first Black Church in the Seatack community.
- Mrs. Sarah Pelton, (the grandmother of Deacon Eugene Gayle) asked the Jarvis family, her employers, for land to build Mount Olive. The Jarvis family donated one acre of property on which Mount Olive now stands.
- The structure was a square and straight one room white building with an “A” type roof. On each side of the sanctuary, about midway down the building, stood two potbellied stoves. Oil lamps attached to the walls provided light. With the completion of the building, Mount Olive Baptist Church began its religious journey.
- The first Sunday school class was started in June 1894. In the Sunday school, the children used 3”x4 picture cards with their lessons printed on them. During those days, glue was a luxury; they mixed starch and water to make glue for their arts and crafts activities.
- Rev. Mitts, the pastor of the First Lynnhaven Baptist Church, came to Mount Olive as intermittent pastor on each second and fourth Sunday to hold worship services until the first pastor, Rev. Ed Smith was called. He served faithfully for twenty-one years.
- The original building served as worship space for eleven years. During 1908-1910, Mrs Sarah Parsons Daughtry started the first elementary school for Blacks in the church building. The school rented the space for $1.50 a month.
- Mount Olive Baptist Church’s cornerstone was dedicated in 1908. The present building was constructed next to the old white church building.
- In 1925, Mount Olive had 24 Sunday school officers. By March 4, 1928, the Sunday school attendance was sixty-seven with eight classes reporting.
- In 1943, Harry Robinson, Phil Gassoway and Raymond King applied for and were granted a charter for the first Mount Olive Boy’s Scout Troop.
- The Communion Service was moved from the first Sunday to the forth Sunday in 1944. The first Mother of the Church, Mrs. Sarah Hall, was appointed in the early 1940’s.
- Mrs. Sarah P. Daughtry and Mrs. Virginia Capps organized the first Senior Choir. Mrs. Ira Daughtry Watkins, who served as pianist until 1996, started the first Sunday School Choir.
- Early organist were: Mr. Johnnie Moore, Mrs. Sarah P. Daughtry and Mrs. Lee Capps.
- Rev. W.P. Jones was called to Mount Olive in 1945 on a part-time basis. Other pastors who gave of their time and talents in untiring and devoted services included: Reverends Jacob Gaskins, Madison Wright, Monroe E. Gherst, I.W.C Melts and W.E. Smith.
- Some of Mount Olive’s first Deacons were: Moses Snowden, Americus Morgan, Enoch Morgan, Andrew Hurdle, Deacon Hall, Issac Daughtry and Ben Johnson.
- Under W.P. Jones’ leadership, using the design by Rev. Clarence Morgan, the church was bricked and expended. Mount Olive was given its distinctive look by the addition of two steeples. The balconies were also added.
- Mount Olive sponsored the first daily Vacation Bible School for Blacks in the City of Virginia Beach. Mrs. Lola Williams Morgan and Mrs. Lola Morgan Gordon were directors. The Board of Christian Education was created in 1948 with Mrs. Lola M. Gordon as the first director.
- Dr. Milton Reid was called in 1953. A well known Civil Rights worked and community activist, Dr. Reid’s administration was the start of a new community-involved ministry with many new programs. Deaconess Ruth Gayle started the Pastor’s Aide Committee. Mrs. Virginia Olds organized the Youth Ushers and served as their advisor. Mrs. Flossie M. Isler served as president of the Usher Board #2. Mr. Preston Watkins and Mr. Alfred Morgan found the Male Chorus. Mrs. Sadie Daughtry Shaw organized the Jewels Club, a ministry to serve the seniors of the church.
- The Virginia Beach Christian Leadership Conference, an affiliate of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., held their meetings at Mount Olive Baptist Church. The Independent Voting League of Seatack, a grassroots political group, was also founded at Mount Olive during the 1970s.
- Pastors of Mount Olive who followed Dr. Reid include: Reverends T.M. Walker (the first minister to live in the parsonage), L. W. Chase, Harry L. Batts, W. Mails Vrews and Jerome C. Ross.
- In September 1973, Mrs Ira D. Watkins started the first school for unwed teenagers at Mount Olive. The school closed in June 1986.
- Rev. Jerome C. Ross was called on December 2, 1983 as the twelfth pastor of Mount Olive Baptist Church.
- Deacon and Mrs Preston Watkins started the Food Bank Ministry in 1984. The fifth Sunday was designated as the Youth Sunday in 1985. Under Rev. Ross leadership, Mrs. Evelyn D. Etheridge started the Youth Outreach Hospitality Team Ministry. This ministry provided school supplies and financial gifts to students of Mount Olive.
- Mount Olive began the 1990s with the building of a long awaited fellowship hall and the remodeling of the sanctuary. The re-dedication of the church was held on Sunday, October 21, 1990. Mrs. Etheridge was asked by Rev. Ross to start the Plant and Flower Ministry, for the new fellowship hall.
- Rev. Ross created the church’s motto by adding a biblical identification to the name of the church: “Mount Olive Baptist Church, A People and Place of Prayer” (Mark 14:26).
- Rev. Lamont D. Brown was called as pastor of the Mount Olive Baptist Church and preached his first sermon on Easter Sunday, April 14, 1995.
- Rev. Brown developed many new ministries: Young Christian Maturity Ministry (YCMM), Wednesday Noontime Bible Study, 8 a.m. Sunday Worship Service, Helping Hands Ministry, Praise Dance Ministry, Young Ladies Ministry, Mount Olive’s Family Christmas and the Care Patrol.
- Rev. Brown added the phrase, “The Cathedral in the Community”, to the church’s motto.
- Rev. Brown developed the “Nehemiah 200” project.
- In June 1999, Mount Olive burned the mortgage during the 105th Anniversary Celebration Worship Service.
- Mrs. Evelyn D. Etheridge organized the fifth Sunday Youth Devotion Ministry, and started the annual Evangelistic Workshop.
- In April 2004, the new parking lot was finished. The church was blessed with a new stove, warmer, ice machine, air conditioner and sound system.
- In 2006, Sister Renita Inmon and others reorganized The MOBC Senior Ministry. Various activities of the senior ministry included theatre trips, boat trips, Ice cream socials, and visiting homebound members.
- In 2006, Sister Kathy Waters organized the Senior Praise Dance Ministry.
- In 2009, under the leadership of Sister B. Gail Stickney and Sister Katasha Roberson the Children, Youth and Young Adult Choirs were combined and name chances to the Youth Praise Ensemble.
- November 4, 2014 Mount Olive Baptist Church installed as Senior Pastor the Reverend Jason N. Knight. Under the leadership of Pastor Knight several organizations within the church has been renamed and place back in force. Pastor Knight developed a Mission for Mount Olive Baptist Church to ensure people are exposed to “AUTHENTIC WORSHIP, MEANINGFUL FELLOWSHIP, BIBLICAL DISCIPLINE, and IMPACTING OUTREACH so that they are EQUIPPED to advance the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 28:18-20, John 4:24, Ephesians 4:11-13, Acts 2:42, Duet: 15:11) Pastor Knight vision is to Regain the Lost, Revive the Church, Live a Life of Renewal.
The Mount Olive Baptist Church continues to be: A People and Place of Prayer, being The Cathedral in the Community working together as One church, One body serving One God and giving God many praises. Through Leadership of Pastor Jason N. Knight: “Exposing people to Authentic Worship, Biblical Discipleship, Meaningful Fellowship and Impactful Outreach, Equipping them to advance the Kingdom of GOD”