By A.J. Dugger III
Nashville, TN. – Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church will be celebrating their 125th church anniversary the week of March 11 through the 18th. The church’s pastor, Dr. Bishop A. T. Griffey III, is excited about the upcoming celebration. “We’re starting on Sunday, March 11th with a showcase featuring Dr. Bobby Jones performing at Jazz and Jokes, and Ms. Connie Denell as Mistress of Ceremony” he told The Tennessee Tribune. Wednesday through Friday, March 14-16, 2012, there will be a revival at Mt. Olive held nightly at 7:00 PM. During the revival there will be a “Time of Recognition and a Time of Rededication”. On Sunday morning, March 18, 2012 at the 8:00 and 10:45 AM service, Mount Olive’s pastor, Dr. Bishop A. T. Griffey will deliver the message and at 3:00 PM Dr. Carl E. Livingston of Walnut Grove Missionary Baptist Church of Clarksville, TN will be the featured speaker.
Mt. Olive first opened its doors on March 10, 1887. The Reverend R.T. Huffman initially established the church. Huffman was the former pastor of First Baptist Church (Spruce Street Baptist Church). He and many of his followers began to search for a new place to worship.
Huffman and his followers met at different homes for services. As they traveled around by trolley, walking or by drawn buggies, more and more people joined them. Before long, they were having services at Liberty Hall (on the corner of Cedar Street and Fourth Avenue) and Junkers Hall (at the corner of First and Bridge Avenues.)
As his followers steadily increased, Huffman decided that they needed a place of their own to worship, so they decided to build one. They collected bricks to build a church. Meanwhile, they arrived at a basement on 908 Cedar Street where they decided to settle. Huffman resigned six years later and the Reverend C.H. Clark stepped in.
The church expanded during Clark’s tenure, both in numbers and setting. A church was built on top of the basement that could easily seat 1200 people. In 1897, Clark received the State Charter. In 1920, Clark was succeeded by The Reverend John B. Ridley, a member of the church. Ridley also served as Chairman of The Board of The National Baptist Publishing Board. After suffering from an illness, Ridley resigned. The coming years were a rough period for the church as well as the country– a world war, The Great Depression and Capitol Hill Redevelopment. During the Redevelopment stages, the church members worshiped in Pearl Elementary School and the Andrew Jackson Community Building Center until the new Mt. Olive was finished in 1955. The Reverend Frank K. Sims was present when the church settled into their new location. In 1959 he left and was succeeded by the Reverend E.N. Bates. Bates was a fund raiser that raised over $3,000 at one point through the States Rally System. The Reverend Samuel L. Johnson eventually replaced him as pastor. When Johnson resigned in 1973, the Reverend Wallace Flemming became interim minister until the Reverend John L. Ragland became the new pastor. Ragland, an evangelist from Memphis, TN, resigned in August 1976.
Reverend Marcel Kellar became the pastor in 1977. When he left Mt. Olive to establish Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, Reverend L. Royal Byars became an interim minister until becoming appointed pastor on November 2, 1991. The Reverend Georgia Moody became interim pastor for almost three years until Dr. Bishop A. T. Griffey III was appointed as pastor.
In honor of this auspicious occasion, a week long of activities has been planned to celebrate. Beginning on Sunday March 11, 2012 as a kickoff, a Gospel showcase brunch will be held at Jazz and Jokes, featuring the world renowned, Dr. Bobby Jones and other special guests with Ms. Connie Denell as Mistress of Ceremony. For information please contact the church at (615) 320-7722 located at 3411 Albion Street, Nashville, TN 37209, or call Jazz and Jokes – 615 242 5653 for ticket information about Sunday’s Gospel Brunch, on March 11, 2012
NEED TIME OF BRUNCH
Though it has been around for 125 years, Mt. Olive became a big part of Nashville many years ago. “Our historical church is located in the heart of the community,” said the Bishop.