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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
of a Noon Day Prayer Band
of Vacation Bible School
Circle Missionary Society
of the Board of Christian Education
of New Members Class
a lifetime membership in the NAACP
Sunday School, Bible study and prayer service attendance
Hill retired in December 31, 1992 and expired on March 5,
1996. Since 1991, Catherine Jordan has served as our church
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.
has blessed and anointed Pastor Blount’s ministry through
the development and improvement of various ministries. The
following ministries were developed or enhanced:
and installation of computer system and church database
into partnership with Portsmouth Public Schools to set up
a GED Program
the Evangelism Team
the Single’s Ministry
into partnership with Ebenezer and the city of Portsmouth
to develop a Senior Citizen Complex with retail stores
two new vans
properties in the 900 block of County Street
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.
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.
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.
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.
has blessed and anointed Pastor Blount’s ministry through
the development and improvement of these various ministries.
• The Summer Enhancement Program was established in
• 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 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.
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”.