History of the Church
In 1938 a group of disenchanted members of the EbenezerBaptist Church agreed to meet the 3rd Sunday in September in a house at 161/2 Melody St. Lackawanna, NY to discuss their religious future. After considerable prayerful deliberation, they decided to form a church body.
Services continued to be held at this location until May 1, 1939 when this congregation moved to 97 Gates Ave. At this point we organized into a church structure by Rev. McDavis. Rev. Thompson served as our first pastor. Some of the charter members we recall were: Mom and Pop Washington; Sis. Alice Washington; Sis. Eliza Anderson; Sis. Charlotte Rivers; Sis. Ora Mills; Sis. Julia Williams; Sis. Gussie Carter; Sis. Emma Wright; Bro. Beverly Woodson; Bro. James Williams; Bro. Henry West; Bro. William Long; Sis. Clara Salter; Bro. Eddie Walker; Rev. Thompson and Rev. McDavis.
Church services were held at this location for a year, during which time the late Rev. Samuel B. Sutton served as our pastor. Under Pastor Sutton the membership grew and the church began to prosper. We purchased a building at 29 Fox Street and moved into it in 1941. After serving as Pastor for seven years, Rev. Sutton tendered his resignation in Dec. 1947.
Rev. Tilmon C. Watson was called, delivering his first sermon as Pastor on Jan. 5, 1949. Under his leadership the church experienced tremendous growth, existing auxiliaries expanded and new auxiliaries were formed. Pastor Watson led us in the construction of the edifice at 72 Wasson. During Pastor Watson's administration, the parsonage at 86 Wasson was erected and modified. Many answered the call into the ministry under his leadership. Rev. Elijah Perry; Rev. Henry Mathias; Rev. Charles Page; Rev. Jesse Myers; Rev. Robert James; Rev. Anthony Benson; Rev. Nediume Westbrook; Rev. Luke Battle; Rev. Virgil Humphrey; Rev. Aaron B. Issac; Rev. Tony Birdsong; Rev. Harvey Fleming; Rev. Albert Ware; Rev. Kid Westbrook; Rev. Carris Johnson. Rev. Marshal M. Anderson served as Assistant Pastor. Those that are still Pastoring today are Rev. Matthew Bushelon; Rev. Glen Raybon; Rev. Eddie Ware; and Rev. Lionell Clements. Pastor Watson shared a vision he had of a new church structure and urged us to get serious about a building fund. After, pastoring Mt. Olive for 25 years, Rev. T.C. Watson was called home to rest with God. Unity, Fellowship, holding to God's unchanging hand, and most of all, PRAYER kept this church family together.
From July 7, 1974 until May 28, 1978, Rev. Henry Wagner served as Pastor of this congregation. With his resignation, Rev. Eddie Ware served as interim Pastor, letting us know that without God we could do nothing. Giving us stability and to keep praying, for prayer is the answer, we sought God's guidance in selecting another leader.
The church called Rev. Brodie Johnson as Pastor on April 23, 1979. He preached his first sermon on May 6, 1979. He was a young energetic man that was prepared to meet the challenges of the church. Pastor Johnson set up the Building Fund, Membership Pledges, a Scholarship fund. Additional membership was added to the church. Also, two answered the call into the ministry. Rev. Keith Woodson and Rev. Pearson Miles, who are still Pastoring today. We looked forward to many constructive changes in the days ahead of us. After serving two and a half years, Rev. Johnson resigned as Pastor on December 13, 1981.
Still praying and holding to God's unchanging hand, for God has never failed us yet, Rev. Ronald F. Thomas assumed the pastoral duties and was called as our Pastor on May 24, 1982 delivering his first sermon as Pastor on May 30th. Under Rev. Thomas' leadership, four young men were called into the ministry: Rev. Wendell Hamner; Pastoring today; Rev. Darryl Thomas; Rev. John Elliott; and Rev. Larry Lewis, Sr. Our membership continued to grow, and new fund raising techniques, the building fund, special projects and pledges. Under his direction we broke ground and began construction of our present edifice. By some miracle and undying faith in God, who is the head of all heads, gave us the strength to face the next battle. After pastoring for four years, Rev. Ronald Thomas resigned in June 1986. Rev. Wendell Hamner was than placed in change of the pulpit. Looking towards the hills from which cometh our help, the Lord once again had blessed the Mt. Olive family.
On the fourth Sunday of August 1987, through Jesus Christ, we marched into our new edifice.
Rev. Robert L. Livingston was called as pastor December 1987. "Had it not been for the goodness and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, where would we be?" Rev. Robert Livingston pastored until July 2000. We pray that the Lord will continue to lead him.
On April 29, 2001, Rev. Dion J. Watkins was installed as Pastor of the Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church. God has send us another God fearing man. On May 6, 2001, he delivered his first sermon as Pastor, entitled "When Jesus interrupts An Outcast." Luke 5:27-32. Rev. Watkins and spiritual leadership were what we needed to make our church family complete. He has been a blessing to each one of us here at Mt. Olive as well as the community. Rev. Watkins has taught us, loved each of us and dedicated his service both physically and spiritually. He has taught us that through our giving, God is putting us in a position to receive.
As we celebrate our Church Anniversaries, we look back to several accomplishments during Rev. Watkins tenure. All have been done with the objective to continuing to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ. During the leadership of Rev. Watkins, the membership has grown considerably; numerous members have united by Christian experience, baptism, and many members have re-dedicated themselves to the cause of Christ. Our youth membership has grown and they have become an integral part of the church.
Mount Olive has been blessed by God with a great heritage, a noble past, and a promising future that has the unlimited potential of untapped resources. What we will become will be determine by willingness to tell the world about "God's Amazing Grace" and our prayerful support of His Eternal Word. Prayer ad hard work may mean the difference between life and eternal death.
This history of Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church is extensive and arduous. To accurately display the history required many long hours. However, those hours capture a history that is rich in culture, reflects the preservation of tradition, and records the advancement of a congregation blessed by God. History is wonderful.
WITHOUT A PAST, WE HAVE NO FUTURE!