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 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 School.

 

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 County Lines the newsletter of the Gibson County Historical Society, Vol. 22, No. 11, pp. 1-2, Nov. 2008.