The History of Mt. Olive Lutheran Church
In 1977, Pastor Walter Harms persuaded a group of members at Bethany who lived near Oak Hill to begin meeting in the Oak Hill area to establish an Oak Hill mission. The congregation was started under the auspices of the Texas District – Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and Bethany Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas. Until January 1986 Mt. Olive was subsidized as a mission congregation by the Texas District.
Their first meeting was on September 25, 1977 at the Oak Hill School Cafetorium. 53 people were present on that day. Pastor Harms led the service. The school cafetorium cost $95 a week and the core group started to look around for something else. In January 1978, Barbara Lynn Bohls very graciously agreed to let them use her dance studio in the Oak City shopping center on Sunday mornings. They also were able to use the West Rural Community Center next door. This gave them additional room for Sunday School classes and a place to store the altar and foot locker which held the collection plates (and other items from the altar) along with the folding chairs that were borrowed from Bethany. The altar was borrowed and had to be assembled before each service and then taken down at the end of the service. They continued to meet at the dance studio until October 1979.
The first called pastor to serve Mt. Olive was the Rev. D.R. Nelson, JI. and he was installed on May 21, 1978. In July, 1980 he was called to First Lutheran Church in Texarkana, a call he accepted. The Rev. Everett Gerdes then served Mt. Olive until 1983.
The present pastor, the Rev. Paul E. Meyer, was installed into office at Mt. Olive on Oct. 23, 1983. The new Education Building was dedicated on November 21, 1992 and a full time pre-school began in April 1995. The current sanctuary was dedicated on January 30, 2005.
- September 25, 1977 – First service and congregational meeting of the Lutheran Church of Oak Hill (53 in attendance)
- October 30, 1977 – Mount Olive selected as official name. (Other names considered were Solid Rock, Conviction Hill, Mt. Calvary, Convert Hill, Church of the Hills, Hill Country and St. Peter.)
- January 8, 1978 – Charter Sunday (68 attended)
- February 26, 1978 – First Baptism – Kyle Fricke, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Fricke
- May 21,1978 – Installation of Reverend D.R. Nelson as first pastor (59 attended)
- October 1979 – First worship service held in sanctuary at 7416 Hwy. 71 W.
- March 9, 1980 – Dedication of sanctuary at 7416 Hwy. 71 W.
- July 1980 – Installation of Reverend Everett Gerdes
- October 23, 1983 – Installation of Reverend Paul Meyer
- September 1990 – Beginning of Mothers’ Morning Out Program
- November 21, 1993 – Education Building dedication
- April 1995 – Beginning of full-time preschool
- September 26, 1999 – Mortgage on Hwy. 71 sanctuary burned
- October 27, 2001 – Dedication of new property Hwy. 290 at Circle Drive
- December 7, 2003 – Ground Breaking and Dedication of the Cross of Christ
- January 30, 2005 – Dedication of current sanctuary
A Spiritual Journey
In 2001, when the Mount Olive congregation declared its strategy in terms of its vision, mission, goals, values and motto, it set a certain tone for Mount Olive and began a spiritual journey that continues to this day.
Vision (What we will become):
An inclusive, growing, learning congregation dedicated to knowing, serving and sharing Jesus, providing spiritual growth for all ages, and making disciples of all who will hear His Word.
Mission (What we do):
Use our God-given talents to share Jesus with all people – within Mount Olive, in the community, and throughout the world.
Goals (How we do this):
Spread His Word > Teach His People > Share His Love
Values (What’s important to us):
Prayer > Outreach > Openness > Caring for People > Christian Education
Motto (What it’s all about):
Reaching Out and Sharing Jesus
In 2005, Mount Olive moved from its somewhat obscured Oak Hill property to the current, highly visible location on a hill overlooking U.S. Highway 290, setting the stage for greater opportunities to live out its strategy. That same year, the congregation took one of its organizational values – Outreach, made it the strategic focus of its ministries, and modified the Mount Olive motto to reflect that change – Reaching Out and Sharing Jesus.
Between 2009 and 2011, the congregation engaged in a renewed strategic planning effort to further refine its focus and move Mount Olive into the future. This resulted in (1) a recommitment to its vision, mission, goals, values, motto and strategic focus, and (2) the adoption of three strategic pillars on which to build its ministries – Faith, Relationships and Service. With the congregational approval of Strategic Plan 2015 in 2011 came the establishment of a standing Planning Committee and a man-date for a “25-year, youth-friendly, facilities master plan for the entire MOLC site, addressing current and expansion needs across all ministries.”
The facilities master planning phase is now upon us, and the Planning Committee is currently in its initial discussions with Jackson-Galloway Associates, an Austin-based architectural and planning firm with long experience in working with churches and the local regulatory environment. Just like the process that resulted in the development of our strategy in 200 I, and the process that brought us to this new location almost ten years ago, and the two-year strategic reassessment that resulted in Strategic Plan 2015, this master planning process is yet another leg in Mount Olive’s continuing spiritual journey.
It is a journey in which we must all strive to live our motto and values, pursue our goals, accomplish our mission, and realize our vision. It is a journey in which the following will continue to be needed: our prayers, our attention and focus, the stewardship of our time, talent and treasure, and, now, our strategic thinking on how we best use this precious resource of land to enhance our ministries “within Mount Olive, in the community, and throughout the world.”
Congregational involvement in this master planning will result in a visual depiction of our 25 acres and how we as a congregation intend to make full use of this God-given resource long term. We are truly blessed to have this property and, as with all the blessings given to us, we need to be good stewards and put it to work that glorifies the Giver.