In 1922, a group of twenty-two descendants from Ebenezer Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Virginia, met in a room with dreams of a church where they could meet and serve God in a way they desired. For a brief period, services were held on Green Street. After this group moved to Bart and Effingham Streets, Reverend Clanton Clay “Doc” Somerville became the founder and the first pastor. God’s blessings showered upon the faithful worshippers. The group moved to 930 County Street and organized as the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church.

Members of the first Deacon Board were elected as well as the Pastor’s Aide Club, Senior Choir, Senior and Junior Missionary Circles. In 1935, “Doc” Somerville was called to pastor a church in Boston, Massachusetts. Serving as interim during this period were Reverend C. J. Welch, Reverend Carroll M. Rodgers and Reverend C. H. Copeland. Serving as chairman of the Deacon Board was C. L. Smith and the church clerk was Kelly Smith. “Doc” Somerville returned to Mt. Olivet as a faithful pastor until his health failed. During these times, Reverend C. H. Copeland led the congregation for two years.

In 1947, Reverend S. M. Jenkins was installed as our second pastor. During the early years of Pastor Jenkins’ administration, additions were made to the frame structure, which included new roofing, water and bathroom facilities. In 1951, Mrs. Lizzie Edmonds formed the Deaconess Board and the Gospel Choir. The members of the congregation formulated a joint Usher Board that included the men, women and youth of the church. The Prayer Band, Baptist Training Union, Sunday School Choir along with annual Men and Women’s Day celebrations were initiated in 1955. In 1956, Mrs. Lizzie Edmonds organized the first female Usher Board. The church progressed spiritually and financially. In 1957, the Junior Choir and Youth Ushers were organized and the Youth Department increased.

In 1960, the church was renovated. Services were held in the Ida Barbour Center during this period. In 1962, the congregation marched gallantly, proud and thankful to God from the Ida Barbour Center to its newly constructed edifice. In that same year, the first Nursing Unit was organized by a group of ladies who were in the nursing field. The late Mrs. Mamie Holiday was president. This group was named the JoAnna’s Nursing Unit after the first lady of the church. The chairman of the Deacon Board was Johnnie Stevens and Randolph Edmonds was the church clerk.

The following were licensed as ministers under Reverend S. M. Jenkins; Lowe Peoples, William Battle, Wesley Clark and Ernest Owens, who are deceased, along with Reverend Isaac Jenkins, pastor of New Macedonia Baptist Church in Pocomoke, Maryland, Reverend Charles H. Williams, pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Reverend Alvin Mills, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in St. Albans, New York. Later, the Hospitality Club and Bible study were organized in addition to the weekly prayer service on Wednesdays. Reverend Jenkins’ encouragement and faithful service to Mt. Olivet remained until his retirement in May 1973. Deacon Dennis Lawrence was the chairman of the Deacon Board.

Mt. Olivet Baptist Church is deeply indebted to Surry County, Virginia for sending us Reverend Milton Lee Hill. We owe a debt of gratitude to First Baptist Church South Portsmouth and the late Dr. T. Van Rhoe for sharing his son in the ministry. But above all, we are thankful to God for sending to us Reverend Milton Lee Hill who was installed as our third pastor in 1974.

The congregation, under the capable leadership of Reverend Milton Hill, grew to the extent that additional quarters were needed. The church needed interior changes. The late Deacon Rowdark Parker, a contractor, enlarged the pulpit, added the pastor’s study and choir room. Carpeting was installed and pulpit furniture was added. An organ and piano were purchased.

The joint boards of deacons and trustees recommended that the church would purchase 28 lots to build a new church edifice. Mrs. Marilyn Hill was the Church Clerk and Deacon Lorenzo Harvey was the Financial Secretary. Deacon Rowdark Parker was instrumental in purchasing the land. In 1979, ground breaking for the new church edifice was held. In 1981, the Pastor, Building Committee Chairman, Jasper Kindred, and Congregation erected a new church edifice on the land that had been purchased. We marched from our old church at 930 County Street in October 1982 to our present location. A dedication ceremony was held during the celebration of our church and pastor’s anniversary. The Interdenominational Minister’s Conference and the Sharon Association conducted the service. The late Dr. S. L. Scott, Jr. delivered the sermon. We marched into our new church with a mortgage note of $75,000 on July 1, 1982 and six years, five month later; the entire mortgage had been paid off.

Presently, 930 County Street has been renamed the S. M. Jenkins Memorial Fellowship Hall and is being used as our fellowship hall. Deacon David McDaniel, who served and chairman of the Deacon Board for three years completed additional renovations to the fellowship hall. In October 1985, Pastor Hill received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the Virginia Seminary in Lynchburg, Virginia. Our church is currently affiliated with the Sharon Missionary Baptist Association and Allied Bodies. As a Missionary Baptist Church, visitations were made to the W. T. Hall convalescent Center, Brentlox Nursing Home, hospitals and the sick and shut-ins leaving love baskets and gifts. Each Saturday morning at 7 a.m., prayer in the chapel was held. We also sponsored the Charles Peete and Gibson Little League Teams coached by John Murphy.
The following were licensed as ministers under Dr. Milton Hill; Reverend Milton Blount, the current pastor of New Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, Reverend Curtis Edmonds, pastor of St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Virginia, Reverend Charles Beamon, pastor of Fourth Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Virginia, Reverend James Brown, pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Dreweyville, Virginia and the late Reverend Alvin Pruitt.

Under the leadership of Pastor Hill, the following accomplishments were made to meet the needs of the congregation and also to meet the church’s commitment to the community it serves:

  • Initiation of a Noon Day Prayer Band
  • Initiation of Vacation Bible School
  • Red Circle Missionary Society
  • Organization of the Board of Christian Education
  • Initiation of New Members Class
  • Purchased a lifetime membership in the NAACP
  • Increased Sunday School, Bible study and prayer service attendance

Pastor Hill retired in December 31, 1992 and expired on March 5, 1996. Since 1991, Catherine Jordan has served as our church clerk.

On January 31, 1993, Reverend Milton R. Blount was installed as the fourth pastor of New Mt. Olivet Baptist Church. He grew up in this very church and had given his life to Christ at a young age in 1969. It was the first Sunday in August 1976 that Milton Blount preached his initial sermon. After being ordained to do the work of the Gospel Ministry in August 1986 and having served as pastor at Poplar Lawn Baptist Church in Surry County, God had sent him full circle to provide for the needs of this congregation. Pastor Blount is teaching and preaching God’s word with a surge of fire and Holy Ghost that inspires all to believe on the words of his favorite scripture, 1 Corinthians 2:9 which declares that Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. During his administration, Pastor Blount licensed Margaret Minggia, Deacon David McDaniel, Yvonne Fitzgerald, Darlene Northam, Angela Hardie, and Deacon Vincent Fitzgerald into the ministry. Reverend Melvin Harrell and Reverend Marcus Northam joined and were sons of the church.

The Lord has blessed and anointed Pastor Blount’s ministry through the development and improvement of various ministries. The following ministries were developed or enhanced:

  • Summer Enhancement Program
  • Purchasing and installation of computer system and church database
  • Entered into partnership with Portsmouth Public Schools to set up a GED Program
  • Initiated the Evangelism Team
  • Initiated the Single’s Ministry
  • Initiated Children’s Church
  • Entered into partnership with Ebenezer and the city of Portsmouth to develop a Senior Citizen Complex with retail stores
  • Purchased two new vans
  • Acquired properties in the 900 block of County Street

Pastor Blount was blessed to go to Israel in February and he went to Jamaica in July of 1998 to learn, teach and preach the word of God. Pastor Blount received an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity Degree from the University of Lynchburg, School of Religion, Virginia Seminary in May 1997. In March of 1995, Tracey Cherry was hired as the full-time secretary. In 1998 an administrative staff was added to meet the continuing growth of the ministry. In October 1999 a full-time minister of music was hired, Minister Vincent Harris to replace the late Ron Simpson, who was one of the ministers of music. Minister Melvin Blackwell was hired as the Minister of Christian Education in 1999/2000 and since has joined New Mt. Olivet and is currently the pastor’s assistant. Early morning worship began under pastor Blount’s administration in 2000. Evangelist Garlena Hines was hired as the full-time minister of music in January 2001. Catherine Jordan was hired as the Church Administrator in April 2001, Karen Harrell was hired as the membership clerk, Shawn A. Justice was hired as the Assistant Minister of Music. Following his leave, Steven Griffin became the Assistant Minister of Music in June 2001. Minister Margaret Minggia was ordained June 30, 2001. New Mt. Olivet has acquired the property on 615 Elm Avenue, which will become the church’s daycare operated by Walking In Promise, Inc. a non-profit organization of the church established June 2001. Pastor Blount was instrumental in coordinating a prayer vigil on September 18, 2001 for the victims of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. He was also instrumental to ensure the Ida Barbour residents received fair treatment from the city during the demolition of Ida Barbour and the rebuilding of the Westbury community in 2000. In 2001 a Hammond Organ, drum shield, and adjustments were made to the public address system to enhance the worship experience.

In 2003 Pastor Blount was nominated as the President of the Sharon Association. New Mt. Olivet celebrated its 80th Church Anniversary in 2002. We had a banquet at The Edmonds’ Center in Portsmouth, VA. At the banquet we honored all members who were Eighty years old or older with a plaque and flowers. Pastor Blount and Reverend Ben Beamer of Ebenezer Baptist Church saw a need in the community. Our seniors needed a place to live after retirement. The two churches joined together along with the City of Portsmouth to bring this into existence. During the year of 2003 the money was secured to begin building through federal grants and funding. In the early spring of 2004 we had the Ground Breaking ceremony thus declaring that this project to “on its way”. Expected time of completion is late December 2004 or mid January 2005.

This year in 2004 New Mt. Olivet celebrated our 82nd church anniversary and the 11th anniversary of our pastor, the Honorable Dr. Milton R. Blount. A new Youth Minister was hired, Minister Eric Elam, Associate Minister of NMOBC in Richmond, VA and a full time administrator was hired, Sherri Cannon. Minister Melvin T. Blackwell was called to Pastor Little Zion Baptist Church in Smithfield, VA.

Under Pastor Blount’s leadership the following people were licensed in the Ministerial Ministry.
• Margaret Minggia Hill – Ordained in 2001
• David McDaniel
• Yvonne Fitzgerald – Ordained in 2003
• Vincent Fitzgerald
• Darlene Northam
• Angela Hardie
• Vernita McDuffie
• Reverend Melvin Harold, Reverend Marcus Northam and Elder Darryl McDuffie joined and became sons of the church.

The Lord has blessed and anointed Pastor Blount’s ministry through the development and improvement of these various ministries.

• The Summer Enhancement Program was established in 1993
• Two additional new vans were purchased
• The Board of Christian Education was reconstructed
• Family Bible Study instituted
• The Evangelism Ministry was extended beyond the walls of the sanctuary by going out into the hedges and highways to reach souls.
• Several series of workshops were offered that were designed to enhance our spiritual growth and development
• The G.E.D. courses are offered to anyone desiring to complete the program.
• The Drug and Substance Abuse Program was initiated
• Initiated the Single’s Ministry
• Initiated Children’s Church
• Acquired properties in the 900 block of County Street
• Project HOPE (HIV) awareness program
• Acquired properties at 615 Elm Avenue
• Initiated Senior’s Ministry
• Entered into partnership with Ebenezer Baptist Church and the City of Portsmouth to develop a senior citizen complex with retail stores.

Future Plans
• Future plans include the construction of an elementary school for kindergarten to first grade
• Church Day Care on property at 615 Elm Avenue.
• There are plans to create jobs and housing in the community by instituting a ministry which will consist of developing programs that will provide job readiness skills and training for the job market.

As we continue “Walking In The Promise” we will “Rise and Build” knowing that God will continue to bless. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit may God’s grace continue to be with Pastor Milton R. Blount as he does the work and the will of God “To God Be The Glory”.

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