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Home arrow Griffin's History arrow Historic Sketch Of The Church At Mt. Olive Church, Lee County, Ala For Fifty Years
Historic Sketch Of The Church At Mt. Olive Church, Lee County, Ala For Fifty Years PDF Print E-mail
Written by H.J. Redd   


This day, February 25, 1893, Mt. Olive church, of the Primitive Baptist faith and order, met in her fiftieth anniversary meeting, and Elders W. M. Mitchell, J. T. Satterwhite and J. H. Redd being present, Elder Mitchell, by special request, opened the services, reading the following hymn:
“Praise, everlasting praise, be paid
To Him who earth’s foundation laid;
Praise to the God whose strong decrees
Sway the creation as He please,” etc.
After singing and a fervent prayer by Elder Mitchell, he read the following text: “A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come and declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that the Lord hath done this.”——Ps. xxii. 30, 31.

Special attention was called to the positive declarations of the Lord as set forth in the text, “A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that the Lord hath done this.”

The point was made that God’s purpose and decree in these promises embraced a people that should be born in the future, not only that they should be born of the flesh, but born also of the Spirit, and that no being in heaven or earth but God could make such a promise with absolute certainty of its final accomplishment.
The words of the apostle were quoted: “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the promises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”——l Pet ii. 9.

Elder Mitchell also read the following Scriptures: “When the Lord shall build up Zion, be shall appear in his glory He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord.”—Ps. cii. 16, 18. It was shown how faithfully God had fulfilled this promise even as to its being written and preserved for the comfort and instruction of unborn nations to come, and that these Scriptures were to-day fully demonstrated by the organization and preservation of the church at Mt. Olive.

Attention was called to the fact that some of the members of Mt. Olive had not only been born of the flesh, but also born of the Spirit since the church was organized, and they had often been comforted and praised the Lord for the very things which the Lord had said thousands of year’s ago “shall be written for the generation to come.” They had come and found a home in the church, declaring the righteousness of God both in condemnation in Adam and justification in Christ. They had come as those whom John baptized, confessing their sins, and like the Gadarine, telling what “great things the Lord had done for them.” The Lord hath done this.” This is the united testimony of all who are born of God in all ages of the world, and will be their song of everlasting joy and praise in the world of eternal glory.

These remarks, preliminary to the further proceedings of the meeting, occupied about twenty-five or thirty minutes, after which Elder Satterwhite read several verses of Psalm cv.: “O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him; talk ye of all his wonders Glory ye in his holy name. Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.” “Remember his marvelous works that he hath done; his wonders and the judgments of his mouth.”

At the conclusion of the foregoing services a recess of twenty-five minutes was given, after which the church met in conference, Elder Mitchell, Moderator.
The usual items were called for, and the historic sketch written by order of the church was read by Elder Mitchell and Deacon C. P. D. Taylor, occupying about one hour in reading.

On motion of an aged Deacon, L. B. Mays, the historic sketch was received as fully satisfactory, and agreed to request its publication in the GOSPEL MESSENGER, published by Elder J. R. Respess, at Butler, Ga.

Elder H. J. Redd was requested to prepare a brief summary of the proceedings of the meeting, to be published immediately preceding the history. Benediction by Eld J. T. Satterwhite, and then adjourned.

Immediately after being constituted, the church held her first conference and agreed to meet on the next Saturday to choose a pastor, deacon and clerk. Accordingly they met, and as no preacher was present, Jesse Taylor opened the services by singing and prayer, humbly and fervently praying the Lord’s direction in the choice of officers, and in all the affairs of the little church.
At this conference Wm. Cadenhead, then a member and licensed preacher in the church at Mt. Gilead, was chosen as pastor, and W. M. Mitchell clerk. The choice of deacon was deferred till another time. Brethren went with a letter to Mt. Gilead requesting the ordination and pastoral services of W. Cadenhead, and the church at Mt. Gilead heartily approved of the call, but it was not until three months after that Bro. Cadenhead was ordained and came to the church at Mt. Olive agreeing to serve.

The little church, however, was greatly encouraged, and though without a preacher, they promptly assembled for worship, and held their regular conferences. Visiting members from sister churches would come to see the infant church, giving all the assistance and encouragement they could and engaging with them in prayer and praise. The church at that time was much assisted by Deacon John Brown, of Providence church. He delighted in singing the praises of God, and. was devout and pathetic in prayer, and often gave wholesome words of exhortation and admonition to the little lonely band of brethren and sisters, and served them as moderator in the absence of any preacher. In this way he was great help to his brethren, and they highly esteemed his services.

Occasionally at these meetings, before the church had any preacher, they would receive a member or two by letter, and as all were prompt to attend, they rejoiced together in the exercise of such gifts as the Lord had given them. It was here in one of these little lonely meetings that W. M. Mitchell, a young member, by urgent request of his brethren and sisters, first went forward in prayer in a public capacity, except in his own little family and a few times With one other family.
Elder Wm. Cadenhead having been regularly ordained, attended the church meeting at Mt. Olive in May, 1843, and agreed to serve as the first pastor, but from some cause he did not get back to the June meeting, and missed some other meetings during the year. At this conference in May, Jesse Taylor was chosen as the first deacon, and two months thereafter was ordained by Elders James Rockmore, J. J. Dickson, and W. Cadenhead. After this meeting in May, and before the next meeting in June, some very remarkable things had taken place; but as a relation of these things in full detail here would be rather personal and aside from the design of this sketch, only a few things will be mentioned.

Wm. M. Mitchell, the chosen clerk of the church, had got badly hurt in his breast some time before this from lifting, or rather, from the sudden falling of a heavy log while a “hand-stick” was in his hand. It disabled him entirely from work as his only and chosen means of support. He bad been, from the time of his baptism greatly exercised in mind in reference to preaching, and when the little church met in June there was no preacher present, and by urgent request of the brethren, he made a few remarks on the text in Matt. xv. 25, “Lord, help me.” This was his first exercise in the way of preaching, and at this conference the church liberated him to exercise his gift wherever his lot was cast, and they also announced at the close of the meeting that he would preach the next day. The news flew rapidly around, and Sunday morning almost the whole community, young and old, had assembled to hear the young preacher. The little “round-log” house was soon filled, and many stood outside near the door, as there was but one door to the house. Deacon J. Taylor opened services by prayer, after which W. M. Mitchell read a text, and in much embarrassment, fear and trembling, commenced speaking. In a few minutes his embarrassment was overcome and the Lord gave him such ease and fruitfulness of mind in speaking that he continued to speak rapidly for about the space of two hours. Little did he, or the church at Mt. Olive, then know that this beginning of his preaching labors was to continue with them for fifty years. How wonderful are the works and ways of God!

At the first meeting that Elder Cadenhead attended after his ordination, he baptized two, and again in August three more. In September 1843, the church at Mt. Olive was received as a component member of the Beulah Association. Up to that time seven had been received by baptism, and the total number was then nineteen.
During this year it was apparent that a better and more commodious house was needed, and in the summer, at a suitable time for farmers, nearly the whole community rendered assistance in some way, and very soon a good and more comfortable log house, 30 by 40 feet, was erected and furnished with tolerably comfortable seats for those times.

In February 1844, Elder W. Cadenhead, the pastor of the church, having moved into the vicinity, was received by letter as a member at Mt. Olive. W. M Mitchell resigned the clerkship, and Josiah Payne was chosen and accepted the office to serve in that capacity But it was not the pleasure of the Lord that Bro, Payne should long continue, for in August after he was chosen as clerk, he was killed by lightning, and Robert Burk was chosen as clerk.

In August 1844, James Mitchell was ordained a deacon, and about that time Deacon John F. Sharp and wife were received by letter, so that the church then had one ordained and one licensed preacher and three deacons. Bro. Sharp was soon chosen as clerk, as the former clerk had moved away.

The minutes of August Conference, 1846, contains the following: “Resolved, that we have an annual three days’ meeting in September of each year, and that Friday be a day of fasting and prayer, and Sunday communion and feet-washing.”

In January 1848, Deacon Isham Cadenhead and wife were received by letter, and in September Henry M. Higginbotham and wife were also received by letter, and at the close of that year the church numbered thirty-eight. But in May 1849, a heavy shock fell upon the church and community by the sudden death of Elder Wm. Cadenhead, the first pastor of the church. It was indeed a sad time with the church; but in about ten days after the death of their pastor, they assembled in conference and unanimously chose Elder W. M. Mitchell. He was then a member at Enon Church, five miles from LaFayette, Chambers County, Ala., where he had moved to take charge of a little country school, and where, in July 1845, he had been ordained to the full work of the ministry.

Elder Mitchell had been attending the meetings at Mt. Olive most of the time from the first organization of the church, and he was now duly informed of the call of the church, and though serving three other churches at that time, and in much suffering and poor health, he agreed to serve Mt. Olive to the best of his ability.

With regard to time of communion, the church for a few years communed quarterly, but believing that it is left in the Scriptures to the best judgment of the church as to time, they changed the annual three days’ meeting and communion from September to July. Thus annual, instead of quarterly communion was established as the custom of the church. It was also agreed and kept up for many years that on Friday of the annual meetings the record of minutes for the past year and the Articles of Faith should be read. Why this custom has been omitted for many years does not appear on the church book.

At the close of the year 1850, another shock fell upon the church by the heavy afflictions of their pastor, W. M. Mitchell, so that he was no longer able to serve any church for more than four years. The hurt he had received in 1843 had caused other afflictions, greatly impairing his general health; but still the four churches of his charge, hoping that after a little rest he might again be able to resume his labors among them, procured temporary supplies for the year 1851. But as he grew worse and was prostrated nearly all that year, Mt. Olive obtained the services of Elder Tyra Freeman, and as Elder Mitchell was then almost helpless and destitute of means of support, his father and father-in-law had him and family moved near the church, within three miles of Opelika, where they could better assist in caring for him and family.

Elder Freeman continued his pastoral services at Mt. Olive till the close of 1852, when Elder Wm. L. Taylor was received by letter, and upon the resignation of Elder Freeman Elder Taylor was chosen and agreed to serve the church as pastor.

During this year (1852), M. Higginbotham, who lived twenty miles distant, began to exercise a. little in the way of preaching, and receiving encouragement by the church, in May of that year he first went into the pulpit. Deacon Wm. Collins had also been received by letter, and thus there were four deacons, one licensed preacher and two ordained ministers in the church at Mt. Olive in 1852.

Up to this time, a period of nine years, there had not been any jargon or discord in the church, but during this year they were under the painful necessity of having to cut off one brother from the fellowship of the church.

Another trouble came up. A good title could not be had to the land on which the church house was built, and the house was in a dilapidated condition, so that another location had to be obtained. Finally, moving about two miles procured a suitable location and a subscription of near five hundred dollars was made up and the work of building commenced by Deacon James Mitchell.

Chapter II

 In view of the fiftieth anniversary meeting of the church at Mt. Olive, Lee county, Ala., a request was made by the church in conference, November 26, 1892, that the pastor, Elder W. M. Mitchell, assisted by Deacon C. P. D. Taylor, prepare a historic sketch of the constitution and progress of the church for the past fifty years, to be read at the approaching fiftieth anniversary meeting, embracing fourth Sunday in February and Saturday before, 1893. And now, in compliance with said request, the following is presented:

In the fall of 1842 Jesse Taylor and a few other Primitive Baptists in his neighborhood, on Chewacla creek, in Macon (now Lee) county, Ala., being distant from any church and the country but newly settled, and but few public roads and the method of travel generally on foot or on horseback, they felt impressed with the importance of making an effort for the constitution of a church. And as they did not wish to do anything rashly, without the concurrent judgment of brethren and churches around them, they submitted the matter to the prayerful consideration of the brethren at Providence, Mt. Gilead and Hepzibah, and receiving their approval a presbytery of ordained ministers was sent for, and if thought advisable to organize them into a church.

There was already a small, round log school house in the vicinity, where W. M. Mitchell, then a young man, had taught school in 1840. There had been preaching in this school house a few times, and from the interest manifested there was additional encouragement to organize a church. At the meeting first appointed for that purpose, Elder Wm. Hudspeth was the only preacher in attendance, and consequently the constitution at that time was a failure. Elder Hudspeth at this meeting preached with great liberty and power from Psalms lxxxix. 3: “I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, thy seed will I establish forever, and build up thy throne to all generations.”

Seeing the surroundings and the interest manifested in the preaching of the word of the Lord, Elder Hudspeth said he believed there ought to be a church organized there; and he encouraged the little company of members to make another effort, and said he would, by divine permission, came again, though it was about eighty miles ride for him on horseback each time he came.

A time was set, and the nearest churches around requested to attend. Other ministers were again sent for, and accordingly February 20, 1843, quite a number of brethren and sisters and three preachers were in attendance. Elders Hiram Barron and Wm. Hudspeth opened services by preaching in the order of their names. Elder Hudspeth preached from the following text: “Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices; and let the foundation thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof three-score cubits, and the breadth thereof three-score cubits; with three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber, and let the expenses be paid out of the king’s house.”—Ezra vi. 3, 4

It was a most gracious and comforting sermon, in which the strong consolation of God’s sovereignty was set forth in his immutable purposes through our Lord Jesus Christ, the strong and sure Foundation upon which the church of God is built, up for a habitation of God through the Spirit, so that it should grow up a holy temple in the Lord.

After the preaching, a presbytery of three ordained ministers was organized, and the object of the meeting explained. A spokesman was appointed on the part of those who wished to be constituted into a church, to answer such questions as might be propounded to them by the presbytery. The preliminary proceedings of agreeing to make an effort for organizing a church and the articles of faith were presented to the presbytery, and the six members who had presented valid letters were interrogated respecting each article of faith, and finding, as the presbytery believed, that the applicants were orthodox and orderly, they pronounced them a church in gospel order, to be known as the Primitive Baptist church of Christ at Mt. Olive, Macon (now Lee) county, Ala.

The presbytery then signed their names to the proceedings as follows:
The names of the members who were in the constitution of the church were:
Jesse Taylor and his wife, Nancy Taylor, Wm. M. Mitchell and his sister, Lucinda Mitchell, George W. Andrews, Elizabeth Driver.
Thus it will be seen that there were only six members in the organization of Mt. Olive church on the 20th day of February 1843—fifty years ago. And we deem it proper in this connection to give the Articles of Faith on which they were constituted, which are as follows:
ARTICLE 1. We believe in one only living and true God, the Father Son and Holy Ghost, and that these three are one.

ARTICLE 2. We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God and the only rule of faith and practice.

ARTICLE 3. We believe that God elected or chose his people in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blame before him in love.

ARTICLE 4. We believe in the doctrine of original sin, and the impotency of man to recover himself from the fallen state he is in by nature of his own free will or ability.

ARTICLE 5. We believe that sinners are justified in the sight of God only by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.

ARTICLE 6. We believe that God’s elect shall be called, effectually regenerated, and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, and shall persevere in grace and never finally fall away.

ARTICLE 7. We believe that Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are ordinances of Jesus Christ, and that true believers are the only subjects of these ordinances, and that the true mode of baptism is by immersion.

ARTICLE 8. We believe in the resurrection of the dead and a general judgment, and that punishment of the wicked will be everlasting and the joys of the righteous will be eternal.

ARTICLE 9. We believe that no minister has the right to administer the ordinances only such as are called of God, as was Aaron, and come under the imposition of hands by a presbytery, and in fellowship with the church of which he is a member.
ARTICLE 10. We believe that God has ordained good works that his children should walk in them, and that good works are only such as God hath commanded in his Word and not such as without the warrant thereof are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretense of good intentions.

ARTICLE 11. We believe that washing the Saints’ feet was ordained by Christ to be done by his children in a church capacity until his second coming.
The house that the church now occupies (1893) was completed and the first meeting held in it September 1853. The total membership at that time was forty-two.
After getting in the new house, everything seemed to move along tolerably well for a time, but occasional troubles would spring up about one thing and another. But in all matters of discipline pertaining to fellowship, the church proceeded with great caution and tenderness, and whenever they came to a final decision they were always unanimous.

But now in 1854 one of the saddest and most trying things that had ever come before the church had to be met and disposed of. Their beloved pastor, who had been serving them so satisfactorily for a year or two, suddenly fell into such disorder as to result in his exclusion in July of that year. This was a heavy blow upon the church, but the good Lord was watching over them that they should not be left without an under-shepherd, for before this disorder and exclusion of the pastor had occurred preliminary arrangements had been made for the ordination of H. M. Higginbotham to officiate in all the junctions of the gospel ministry, and in August he was thus set apart by the church and presbytery, but did not agree to serve till December of that year.

From June 1854 till January 1855, the church had no regular pastor, but as W. M. Mitchell’s health was slowly improving, so that he could attend the meetings, we find his name as Moderator of each conference during that time.

It had now for a season been a time of sorrow and distress, but as saith the word of the Lord, “Sorrow may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” The beloved pastor, who had been cut off, returned to the church just twelve months after his exclusion. The Lord had given him repentance, and a more full and humble acknowledgment and hearty forgiveness and restoration is seldom ever witnessed.
Eld. Higginbotham continued to serve the church very satisfactorily up to the regular time of calling a pastor in November 1855. At that meeting he said he knew that Eld. Mitchell was really the regular and desired pastor of the church, whose long and severe afflictions had suspended his pastoral labors for a few years, but now, as he had improved, he thought it proper for him to resign and let Eld. Mitchell again resume his pastoral charge of the church.

The church accepted the resignation of Elder Higginbotham, and Eld. Mitchell was unanimously chosen and again resumed his pastoral labors, which have continued down to the present time.

The church then had three ordained ministers, who were members with them, with a substantial and well disciplined membership; and though their numerical strength did not increase much, peace and love, with prompt attendance of meetings, prevailed among them. Nothing very unusual took place for a few years, except that the Beulah Association was held at Mt. Olive in 1856.

In changing Clerks, procuring a new book in which to keep a record of the proceedings of the church, or from some other unknown cause, there is no record of any church meeting or conference from June 1857 till November of that year.
It may be proper here to remark that the church had adopted a custom soon after it was first organized to choose a pastor annually at each November conference, or, if they had a regular pastoral supply, to give some expression of satisfaction with his services and a desire for his continuance. And thus between the church and her pastor there has been undisturbed relations and mutual expressions of satisfaction given annually.

Another custom very early adopted by the church was at each December conference to appoint some brother, or brethren, to take charge of the house, carry the keys, open the door, sweep the house, and other things necessary to be done. But to the honor of the brethren there never was, for many years, any trouble on this subject, as four brethren would generally agree voluntarily to attend to this business free of charge for one year, each one of the four to have special charge for three months, except just before the annual three days meeting, communion and feet washing, when there was generally some extra and additional work to be done in and around the house and cemetery; then all four of the brethren together, with as many other members and friends as voluntarily chose to come, did so.
Doubtless these two customs noted above are both good, provided they are faithfully carried out; but why this last mentioned custom has for a few years past been omitted we are not informed by any record on the church book. It may be that because several of the former members have either died or moved away, and the membership for some years past having been much scattered and far more distant from the church house and from each other than formerly, this has caused a good custom to be partially abandoned or much neglected.

In May, 1859, John C. Hanson, a acting deacon, and his wife, Nancy Hanson, were received by letter, and in November - J. G. Renfroe, the Clerk, having moved away, Walter Collins was chosen and served as Clerk for many years.

Up to the close of 1859, a period of sixteen years from the organization of the church, a few bad been received each year except five, and the total baptized in that time was twenty-eight. But there was not a year for the first eighteen years but what there were some received by letter, and the total thus received in that time was sixty-three, and eleven on confession of faith, who had been baptized before the general division of the Baptists in 1837. The total membership, however, had not increased during ten years, from the fact that fourteen had died, seven had been excluded and fifty had obtained letters of dismission and moved away or obtained membership in other churches nearer to them.

In 1861 five were received by baptism, and the total membership was forty-four. It was in April of this year that the terrible war between the North and South broke out and continued with great destruction of life and property till May 1865. It would be impossible and contrary to the main design of this writing to describe the amount of human sufferings, destitution and hardships which fell upon the Southern people in many localities during this unnatural and cruel war. And our churches and gospel ministers were not exempt from the terrible calamity. But during all these years of distress Mt. Olive missed only five or six regular monthly conferences, and then it was mostly in consequence of bad weather. But as very few white men were left in the country, except the aged and infirm, the congregations which assembled for worship were generally small, consisting mostly of distressed women and children whose husbands, fathers or brothers had either fallen in battle or were then engaged in the deadly conflict of carnal strife. The war raged with increased fierceness and terror. One raid after another of armed soldiers passed through this section of country, tearing up railroads, destroying property and provisions, burning gin houses and cotton, capturing the farmers’ horses and mules and pillaging private houses, even where there were not one present save defenseless women and helpless children.

It was during this state of things in April 1865, just before the close of the war, the pastor of this church, Eld. W. M. Mitchell, and one of his sixteen-year-old sons were intercepted about eighteen miles from home by Federal soldiers, their two horses and saddles taken, and were left on foot to make his way home. Arriving home April 17th, he found that about a dozen raiders had pillaged his house, opening every trunk and drawer, scattering papers, taking clothing and other things at pleasure, as only his wife, four daughters and a few children and negroes were there.

Other members of Mt. Olive church suffered much, and there was great distress and destitution. Eld. Mitchell bad a growing crop on hand, a large family then dependent on him, and not a horse left to plow. Corn for bread or feed was scarce, forty dollars per bushel, and seldom could get any at that or at any price, and other necessaries of life in proportion. The war ended in May 1865, and the Lord favored the country with good seasons and bountiful crops in many places. In 1864 five were received by baptism—two in ‘65 and five in ‘66, and two in 1867.
And now when we take all these trying scenes through which the church has passed into consideration, and see the good band of God in her protection and preservation, may we not exclaim with the Zion of our God of olden time, “That it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not?”

In April 1868, Brethren J. N. Hurst and Walter Collins were set apart by ordination to the office of Deacons, and in May of the same year we find the following tribute to the memory of three aged Deacons who had been removed by death:

“Whereas, it has been the pleasure of God to remove from the church at Mt. Olive three aged Deacons in quick succession—namely, Jesse Taylor, who died February 22, 1863, in his seventy-second year James Mitchell, who died October 18, 1867, in his seventy-fourth year, and John C. Hanson, who died March 5, 1868, in his sixty-seventh year—we, as a church at Mt. Olive deem it proper as a tribute of respect to their age and usefulness to say, as was said of some of the ancient patriarchs, that they all died in faith, and during their long and useful life as citizens, or as church members or deacons, they were enabled to maintain a good and unblemished Christian character, and while we deeply feel the loss which the community and church has sustained, we desire to bow with humble reverence to the will of God, who has taken them from their labors and sufferings here to that eternal rest that remains for all the people of God:”

For several years after the close of the war, the Lord favored the church with much peace and love. In January 1870, Eld. C. S. Tate and wife were received by letter, and in May, J. E. W. Henderson, a licensed preacher, and also in June Eld. H. R. McCoy, were received by letter. This was quite an eventful year in Mt Olive, with regard to the ministry, for in November J. E. W. Henderson was ordained, and soon had the pastoral charge of Providence and other churches.

It had now, for several years been a time of peace and fellowship in the church, with some little increase, but this desirable state of things was not to continue, for, in 1873, serious troubles and contentions among some of the members sprung up and continued from one thing to another till, notwithstanding all the care and tender labor to save them from self-destruction, the church was under the painful necessity of having to cut off three precious members in 1874. Six had been dismissed by letter during the year, and two had died, thus reducing the total number in one year from 70 to 59 members.

In April 1875, J. T. Puckett was set apart to the office of deacon, and in June 1876, the church gave an expression of encouragement to M. F. Hurst to exercise whatever gift the Lord had given the church in him, and, as his gift appeared to develop into further usefulness, he was set apart by ordination to preach the gospel and officiate in all its ordinances, November 24, 1877.

For a few years before and after this time, the church was blessed with peace and love and had a time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord. Much interest was manifest in the preaching of the word of the Lord, and several were received by experience and baptism. But as society and business relations were ever changing, there were continually some obtaining letters and moving to other localities, so that the total membership did not increase but little for several years.

In July 1880, Wm. Lively, an ordained minister from the Missionary Baptists, was received by experience and baptism, and several others of the same denomination, and some from the Methodists during the year were received in the same way, and some, also, who had never before made any religious profession. Ten had been baptized in 1880, and six the next year, but owing to so many moving away, the total membership was ten less than it was eight years before.

In October after Bro. Lively was baptized, he was ordained to the full work of the gospel ministry and soon had the pastoral care of churches.

In December 1874, Providence Church dissolved and left her church-book with Mt. Olive, and in August 1880, the church at Bainbridge, Russell county, Ala., gave her record also over to Mt. Olive, and the five members of Bain bridge Church became members at Mt. Olive.

For a period of ten years from 1880, so many had moved to other localities that but few were left anywhere near the church as they had been formerly. Most of the membership was from ten to twenty miles away, and the travel to and from the church meetings was by private conveyance. Bad weather and roads occasionally interfered with prompt attendance.

In 1887, the pastor of the church, Eld. W. M. Mitchell, being old, infirm and lonely, broke up housekeeping and sold his little farm, where he had been in one mile of the church for thirty-six years, and went to live with his son-in-law in Opelika, four miles from the church. A few other Primitive Baptists besides Eld. Mitchell and wife were also in Opelika, and desiring to assemble together for worship and to hear the gospel preached, after some delay an effort was made to procure a suitable house in which to hold religious services, and Prof. D. M. Banks, a Methodist minister, kindly tendered the use of a “large upper room” of Opelika Seminary. In this room Eld. Mitchell preached one Sunday in each month, for nine consecutive months, and such was the interest manifested in the preaching, and desire for its continuance, that it was thought advisable to make an effort to build a church house which Primitive Baptists could claim as their own, and into which they could feel free to invite others. Accordingly the matter was submitted for consideration to the church at Mt. Olive, and receiving approval, a suitable lot was kindly donated by Judge W. J. Carlisle, of Opelika, and many others in the city aided liberally, so that in November 1890, the first services were held in the new house, and the first sermon preached by W. M. Mitchell, from Psalms xcv. 6, “O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker, for he is our God.” From this first meeting, Eld. Mitchell has preached there monthly, when able, and other ministers have had occasional appointments. There has been no church organized in this house in Opelika. The deed to the lot has been made to the deacons of Mt. Olive Church and their successors in office, to be under the control and direction of Mt. Olive.
It may be proper here to state that owing to the scattered condition of Mt. Olive members, and their remoteness from the church, Ed. Mitchell, when able, preached to them at Thompson’s, Whatley’s, and Carmack’s school houses, each of which was eight or ten miles from Mt. Olive, thus giving the members and congregation of Mt. Olive, and their families, opportunity to attend meetings and hear preaching near home, as well as at the church. But in 1890, Eld. Mitchell’s health became so bad that these school-house appointments had to be discontinued, and his preaching confined mostly to once a month at Mt. Olive, and one or two Sundays in each month at Lake Street Chapel, in Opelika. And in 1891, such was the severity of his afflictions, that he seriously thought it would be for the good of the church that he should tender his final resignation as pastor, but finding that the church was unwilling to accept his resignation and call another, he requested, for the good of the church, as well as for himself, that they call an assistant to aid him in his pastoral labors. The church willingly agreed to this, and unanimously chose Eld. J. T. Satterwhite, of Mt. Pisgah Church, Chambers County, Ala., at the May Conference, 1892, and in July thereafter he attended the church meeting and formally agreed to serve in that capacity, and so continues down to the present time.

And now, in summing up a few particulars for conclusion, we state that there has been, during fifty years of Mt. Olive’s existence, 123 baptized; 145 received by letter; 18 received on confession of faith, who had been baptized before the division of the Baptists; 20 have been excluded; 5 restored; 137 dismissed by letter; 53 have died, and the total for the fifty years is 297. The present membership is 84. And of this number, Eld. W. M. Mitchell, and his wife, Mary B. Mitchell, are the only surviving members who were in the church at Mt. Olive the year of its constitution, or for five years thereafter. And with this exception, none of the present membership of eighty-four were members of Mt. Olive even forty years ago.

There have been ten ordained ministers whose membership have been at Mt. Olive: W. Cadonhead, W. M. Mitchell, H. M. Higginbotham, W. L. Taylor, C. S. Tate, R J. Cowsert, J. B. W. Henderson, H. R. McCoy, M. F. Hurst and Wm. Lively. During the same period of fifty years, there have been fourteen deacons: Jesse Taylor, James Mitchell, J. F. Sharp, Isham Cadenhead, Win. Collins, Simeon Monk, J. C. Hanson, C. C. Moore, L. B. Mays, Walter Collins, J. N. Hurst, W. C. Brittain, J. T. Puckett, and C. P. D. Taylor. There have been eleven clerks: W. M. Mitchell, Josiah Payne, Robert Burke, J. F. Sharp, J. G. Renfroe, H. W. Stevens, Walter Collins, G. H. Parker, M. F. Hurst, T. W. Herndon and C. P. D. Taylor.

And now, in taking a retrospective view of the organization and progress of the church for fifty years past, we cannot fail to see the good hand of God through all these years. How wonderfully has the church been blessed and sustained through all the shifting scenes of trial, so that it has never been, except for a very short time, without an under-shepherd, or without a preacher a member with them, and sometimes three at the same time, besides other useful gifts in discipline. Has the church at Mt. Olive appreciated these wonderful blessings of God? How lonely, desolate, destitute, poor and dead, is any church when left for any length of time without a constant and faithful preacher!

In view of all these mercies of God upon us, far beyond our numbering, may we not thankfully exclaim, with the Sweet Singer of Israel, “What shall we render unto God for all his benefits toward us? “—Psalms cxvi. 12. Great benefits have been multiplied upon us beyond our deserts. What have we to render unto the Lord, except it be our poor, sinful selves, with all our vileness? What can we render to the Lord, that. He will accept, save that humble and contrite, spirit which He gives? “A broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Such a heart is from the Lord, and he accepts his own gifts.

Fifty years have developed great changes, and when fifty years more shall have run their rounds every member of Mt. Olive Church here today will very likely be swept from the earth, as all our fathers have been during the half century past. But our God is from everlasting to everlasting, and may we not hope and pray that He will perpetuate his name and his worship here, that when the full century of the church at Mt. Olive shall have been completed, and all who are now here shall be gone to their long and eternal home, that He will raise up and bring in our children and others here?

Respectfully submitted,

Last Updated ( Friday, 22 September 2006 )
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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.