Mt. Olive United Methodist Church, with a history dating back to the 1800s, will close at the end of this year. Its last regular church service will be at 9:15 a.m. this Sunday, Dec. 16. An event celebrating the church's history is planned for 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 30.
The first services in the Mt. Olive community were held in the Walker schoolhouse, located southwest of the present church location. Joseph Delvin organized a class in 1865. This class was well enough organized that the Missouri Annual Conference held in Richmond in 1865 transferred it to the Springhill Circuit.
In 1871, the meeting place was changed to the Brown School House, located northeast of the present church site.
In December 1875, citizens promised to pay amounts specified at the time to the Leeper class, Mt. Olive, Jamesport Circuit, Missouri Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church South to be used in erecting a church for public worship on the land of W.J. Gibbons. The church was to be built near the north line on the first ridge west of the corner of the northeast section 25 of township 58 range 25 Livingston County. The church was to measure 30 feet by 40 feet. "Mt. Olive Methodist Episcopal Church South 1876" was inscribed on the north gable of the church. The deed was recorded on July 8, 1876.
The charter members included the family names of Beal, Dryden, Brown, Hale, Dunn, Williams, Breeze, Gann, McWilliams, Allnut, Simmons, Walker, Elrick, Frazier, Munsy, Wilson, Gibbons, Robinson, Dawkins, Simpson, Mathis, Cooper, Rider, England, and Boyle.
In 1892, the members began making plans to buy land for Mt. Olive Cemetery. They again pledged money to purchase two acres of land from J.R. Brown. The committee had the plot made and fencing done on two acres of land across the road from the church.
In 1901, the church caught fire from the flue after services, and was completely destroyed. While the church was being rebuilt, meetings were again held in the Brown schoolhouse. The church was rebuilt and dedicated in 1904.
While the church was being rebuilt, the women of the church canvassed the community getting persons to print their names on a quilt block for 10 cents per name. These blocks were pieced into a quilt for the minister. This money brought the first new pews. The women have been active in the church since first called "Ladies Aid," then "Industrial Society," then Women's Society of Christian Service," and, at present, "United Methodist Women."
The first homecoming at Mt. Olive was held July 29, 1928. The Rev. W.H. Allen was the pastor of the church, and Mrs. Florence Allnut was named general chairman of the planning committee.
A basement under the church made possible the modern convenience of running water, cabinets, furnace heat and rest room. It was dedicated in 1960, along with an electric organ and divided chancel. In 1961, the sanctuary was refurbished with new pews.
Page 2 of 2 - In 2000, new carpeting was installed in the entire sanctuary. That year marked the loss of the organist and a "digital hymnal" was purchased for music. In 2001, new pew cushions were added to complement the carpeting.
In 2002, with the help of the Pony Express District, the church was able to replace the 40-year-old roof.
In 2012, due to decreasing attendance and revenue, the church decided to close its doors on Dec. 31, 2012.
According to Constitution-Tribune records, Springhill was the principal trade center in this vicinity from the time of the first white settlers until after the railroad was completed and missed it in 1859. After that, the town gradually declined.
Services at Mt. Olive Methodist Church for the last several years have been held on the first and third Sundays of each month. Sid Cornell is the minister.