Church façade on Main Street.
The Donaldson Street and Seventh Street Years.
History tells us that, on Easter Sunday in 1907, Mt. Olivet Baptist Church was founded by thirteen members of the Columbus, Ohio community. The following year, in 1908, the Church was formally recognized by the Eastern Union Association and officially became a recognized Baptist church.
The recognition was a long-awaited event. Founded with help from mother church, Shiloh Baptist Church, and the pastor there, Reverend W. L. Burr, around the turn of the century, the church sought to minister to and acquire membership from the large blue collar African-American community in the East Main Street area of Columbus, Ohio. They were successful and with help from official founder, Deacon W. F. Payne, and the thirteen aforementioned members, the church became a reality.
While searching for a building, the founders enjoyed help from a local Jewish businessman, Jacob Stern, who loaned them the Jacob Stern Warehouse on Donaldson Street, and the church became known, for a time, as The Jacob Stern Baptist Church. It eventually became known as Mt. Olivet Baptist Church and relocated to Main Street.
Deacon W.F. Payne,
Pastor J.R. Thomas,
1907 – 1909
Pastor W.H. Beasley,
1909 – 1916
Mt. Olivet Baptist Church enjoyed tremendous prosperity and growth under Rev. H. J. Starks who came to Columbus from a neighboring city. Under his tenure, the church grew both spiritually and financially, securing the present site of the church, renovating it, and paying off the ensuing debt in only two years.
During this time in the church, members could borrow money interest free from the church, and everyone enjoyed a say in the weekly Friday meetings. During this time of prosperity and ultimate trust, groups were set up in good faith to keep up the appearances and renovations on the church. Members were close to one another, and it was a known fact that anyone who wanted to leave the church for another had to petition the Deacon’s Board, and, on a similar note, anyone not in line with the church’s unspoken code of morality and conduct had to appear before the same board to keep membership current and in good standing.
In 1926, citing poor health, the beloved Rev. Starks stepped down as Pastor along with his newly appointed Associate Pastor, Rev. R.L. Henry. In 1926, the newly formed Pulpit Committee appointed Rev. Starling Andrew Grayson, Jr. to Pastor, a highly coveted role now that the church was offering competitive salaries and enjoying great harmony and growth.
Pastor Henry James Starks,
1917 – 1926
Pastor Starling Andrew Grayson, Jr.,
1926 – 1937
& The Depression Era
Adhering to the strict code of values, ethics, and morality already put in place, the church was able to thrive during the Depression Years, when other churches were struggling to survive. In fact, Mt. Olivet was able to retain membership through a strict policy of posting members with delinquent dues, and they were able to stay current on their mortgage and, ultimately, help their mother church, Shiloh Baptist, allowing them to worship with them for a while when they needed to get back on their feet.
During this time, the church began a number of successful ministries and auxiliary groups. They also enjoyed enthusiastic participation from members in a number of other church initiatives like Sunday School and Chorus.
1936 Male Chorus
Deacon Board 1936
Deaconess Board, 1936
Rose of Sharon Missionary Society, 1936
Officers and Teachers of Mt. Olivet Sunday School, 1936
Pastor L.H.Johnson, 1937 – 1946
The Main Street Years
In 1938, an installation ceremony was held for Pastor L. H. Johnson, who came to the church believing that “the minds of the people would be awakened to the real position of giving in the life of a Christian." His presence set off a number of strategic initiatives.
The Trustee Board pictured with Rev. and Mrs. L. H. Johnson
The Male Chorus pictured with Rev. and Mrs. L. H. Johnson and son
Men’s Usher Board during the Johnson years.
Pastor H. Beecher Hicks, Sr. (1946 – 1977)
Mt. Olivet Baptist Church continues to thrive
In 1946, Dr. H. Beecher Hicks, who had worked relentlessly as a minister in service to the church for years was elected to Pastor. Shortly after Dr. Hicks becoming Pastor, Mrs. Ona Shaw, a member in good standing, began the “Hostess Committee," a valuable asset to the church during these years. Women would work to make sure that all who entered church on Sunday felt the warmth and friendliness of the church. This was Mrs. Shaw's “dream,” and it is something, to this day, that affords all to be greeted with a friendly smile. The church continued in this vein, starting a number of sports and other hospitality and service programs such as a church nursery, a nurses' corps, a stand at the Ohio State Fair, a “mother of the year” award, and others. On April 25, 1957, Mt. Olivet Baptist Church formally celebrated its 50th Anniversary / Golden Jubilee with a dinner at the Hotel Seneca Ballroom . They also commissioned a number of esteemed speakers for the ensuing celebration.
1947 Mt. Olivet Basketball Team
Pruth McFarlin (tenor) in Concert at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church
Convention Committee (1952)
The Gospel Choir
Golden Anniversary Committee
As the church continued to celebrate and thrive over the years, the establishment of varied groups such as a brownie troop, a Youth Fellowship and more became prevalent and enjoyed huge participation and support.
During the 1960s, the church established a credit union and was able to pay off the mortgage. The different ministries and groups continued to thrive.
January 28, 1962 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shares dinner with the saints of Mt. Olivet. A Citation of Appreciation was awarded Dr. H. Beecher Hicks for outstanding service as Pastor, Builder and Civic Leader by the Pastor’s Service /Club.
In 1967, the church had a successful 60th anniversary celebration.
The Male Chorus, 1968
During the 1970s, the church continued to expand, acquire property, and afforded its members many opportunities for travel and enrichment.
Trustee Board at the signing of the purchase of the East Lot
Rev. Hicks Sr. & Jr.
Annual Women’s Day
Our Pastor and First Lady
Cover of 70th Anniversary program
Pastor Charles Edward Booth
Rev. Booth has led the church in becoming even more successful during his tenure. He expanded the facilities with a building addition in 1981 and continued to lead with renewed vigor and hope, making Mt. Olivet Baptist Church the respected institution that it is today.
The March to Expansion – August 31, 1981
The Year of Jubilee
Over the years, Dr. Booth has been further instrumental in getting Mt. Olivet Baptist Church on the map in many ways – politically, socially, and spiritually. The church has become a well-known institution, not only in the Columbus, Ohio area, but nationally as well.
59th Anniversary of the Gospel Choir featuring Mother Willie Mae Ford Smith
In the 1980s, Mt. Olivet Baptist Church started a number of new, timely ministries, including the Singles Ministry, and Rev. Booth was enjoying expanded speaking engagements such as the invitation to be the keynote speaker for the Annual Martin Luther King Service at The Ohio State University. During this time, Dr. Booth implemented the Annual Thanksgiving Day Prayer, and began other innovative programs like “Calling Men to Christ” service and other initiatives.
Cover of 100 Year Anniversary program
In the 1990s, the Mt. Olivet Christian Academy graduated the biggest class on record, and the church continued to build community by instilling new programs like the Father/Son Banquet and others. Around the year 2000 and following, Mt. Olivet began to enjoy the national attention that it receives to this day, hosting Senator John Kerry for worship in 2004 during a critical campaign.
To date, under Dr. Booth, Mt. Olivet Baptist Church has enjoyed the following distinctions:
In 1980, Pastor Booth shared his vision for remodeling and expanding the facilities of the church so that we could perform greater Christian service. The membership gave strong support to the building vision and planning for a three-phase building program which, to-date has included:
The Mt. Olivet Baptist Church rejoices in her past, remains steadfast to the cause of Christ in the present and is preparing to be of even greater Christian service in the future. "Hitherto Hath The Lord Helped Us!"