Mt. Olive Baptist Church
11251 Tower Road
Mt. Olive Baptist Church traces its roots back to Antioch Baptist Church, which is located in St. Just, Orange County, VA. Harriett, a slave belonging to Edward Hobday, became the first Black member. She was received into the church on August 31, 1833. On August 7, 1834, seven more Black members were accepted into the church. All Black members were slaves and were listed on the roll only by their first name and the name of their owner. In August 1857, Sidney Bell, a free woman, became the first free Black to belong to Antioch Church. After the end of the Civil War, Blacks continued to be added to the church roll. In August 1871, charges were launched against a Black member of the church. It is believed that this incident prompted the exodus of Black members from Antioch.
On December 12, 1871, Larkin Herndon, one of the original founders of Antioch Church, deeded one acre of land to George Brooks (trustee for a colored church). It was on this land that the church was built. Mt. Olive (originally known as Mt. Oliver) was organized on October 4, 1872. Although there are no written records of the initial years of the church, information handed down by word-of-mouth indicates that the majority, if not all, of the Black members of Antioch Church became the founding fathers of Mt. Oliver. At that time, this area was known as Rocky Run. For over a year, worship services were held in a brush arbor (four poles covered with pine brushes). The original structure was located across the street from the current church. Once the members raised enough money, a log church was built. The log church was replaced by a small frame church. The frame church was replaced by the present church, and the cornerstone was placed on October 3, 1937. Ministers who served from the inception to the time the cornerstone was laid were: Reverends Warren Tibbs, John Robinson, Mosley Scott and W. F. Smith. Deacons who served were Israel Towns, Billy Pryor, Minor Scott, Billy Towns, John Brooks, Joseph A. Scott, Sr., Edward A. Scott, Sr., John A. Towns, Sr., and John A. Towns, Jr.
It is said that Mt. Olive is the oldest Black church in this area and is the parent church of several other churches in the surrounding area, including Mt. Sinai which is located on Rt. 20 [Constitution Highway].
Since 1937, Reverends William Raglin, William Bowman, Richard Strother, James Jackson, and Kevin D. McDowney have served as Pastors. Deacons who served under these pastors were Minor Scott, John Brooks, Reuben Carpenter, James Braxton, John H. Towns, John Franklin, Raymond Offer, Carlton McDaniel, Otto Beasley, Edward Scott, and Minor Scott.
To date, Reverend Richard Strother and Reverend William Raglin have been the longest serving pastors. They dedicated twenty-five and twenty-one years respectively of leadership to Mt. Olive.
Reverend Willie Glaspie is currently the Pastor of Mt. Olive. Reverend Glaspie first served as Interim Pastor and was installed as Pastor in 2008. Otto Beasley, Edward James, Edward Scott and Minor Scott currently serve as Deacons.
*old cemetery on church premises; new cemetery across the road diagonally from church
Contributed by Debra Berry and Barbara Scott