Mount Olive Church
An organizational meeting was
held January 5, 1878 for
the purpose of electing a board of trustees to purchase land to erect a
Methodist Episcopal church. The meeting
was held at the Ennis School building in Washington Township. The 5
trustees elected were Amzi Price, W. L. McRoberts, Reuben O. McRoberts,
A. J. Cunningham and J. E. Zimmerman.
The trustees chose the building site on what was then the John and
Elizabeth Zimmerman farm. Mr. & Mrs.
Zimmerman deeded ½ acre for the church and 1 acre fro a cemetery. William A McRoberts
deeded 40 acres of bottom ground to the cemetery trustees for the upkeep of the
cemetery. From the Zimmerman farm logs
were cut and hauled to the mill, sawed and construction of the place of worship
begun. During this time services were
held in the old log school house across from the former Mount Olympus High
The pioneer church, Mount
Olive Methodist was completed and dedicated April 14, 1880 with Rev Aaron Turner, presiding elder of the
Rockport District, in charge. Ambrose McRoberts acted as Sexton for the first 9 months. Beginning January 1, 1882 Ezra Seibert agreed
to be Sexton of $25 per year. Seibert
died in 1883 with the church in debt for his salary. In the summer of 1885 an ice cream social was
held to pay this debt with the money collected given to his widow.
The old church served its
purpose will, ministering to th
spiritual needs of the community for nearly 75 years. The little white one room church that had
been adequate in the past was thought to be inadequate to meet the demands of a
modern church building. Improvements were
made from time to time on both the church and the cemetery. The digging of graves was always donated by
the friends or relative of the deceased.
Nancy S Cunningham deeded a
house and an acre of ground adjoining the church property on August 5, 1901. This was
given as a gift providing that $30 be spent on improvements on the property
during the first year. If at any time
the building or land is not used for church purposes the land an the building are to revert back to the heirs of Mrs.
Cunningham. In the early 1940s plans
were being discussed concerning the razing of the old church and erecting a new
structure. At this time a group of young
people from the old church started a building fund. In the summer of 1950 the old church was torn
down and services were held at the Mt. Olympus school and the little house
beside the church.
The congregation held the first
service in the new church on Dec. 20, 1951. In February
1954 the final payment was made on the debt and Mt. Olive was ready to be dedicated. A. M. Brown, district superintendent of the
Methodist church dedicated the new church and Bishop Raines presided at the
burning of the mortgage. Church trustees
at this time were Rudolph Nixon, Earl Ford and Howard Meade. A unique feature in the church is the pulpit
stand. Designed and build by George
Decker, it was made from an old cedar tree that had blown down in the cemetery
and was put together with pegs and glue.
A large modern shelter house
or recreational building has been erected and the annual chicken supper and
bazaar are held in the fall. Many family
activities and other community activities are held in the shelter house. The former Ladies Aid has become the United
Methodist Women. Prayer meetings, large
Sunday school, regular church worship services and three choirs of different
age groups are all part of the activities of the church. In the year 1975, $8000 was spent dividing
the church basement into class rooms and modernizing the shelter house. The people of the community donated many
hours to the project. Eleven acres of
ground was purchased by the church and cemetery trustees from the township
property adjoining the church property to be used for extra parking facilities
and a larger cemetery.
The pastor was John Thompson
in 1976. The trustees of record were
Earl Ford, Fred Decker, Harold Jenkins, Walter Davidson, Carl Fisher, Charles
Hyneman and Ira Jones.
The above article appeared in
Lines” the newsletter of the Gibson County Historical Society, Vol. 22,
No. 11, pp. 1-2, Nov. 2008.