"They Had A Dream"
In 1908-1909, a group of people from the Money Point and South Hill (Norfolk County) felt a need for a place to worship God together to supply their spiritual needs.
Brothers Jim Lee and Will Ellington were the two main forerunners. The group met in a small house, consisting of two rooms, situated by the railroad track in Buell, Virginia (near Money Point) and was led by Rev. Kenneth Japheth Billups.
Other original members were Kellan Cox, Joe Lee, Wesley Battle, Sam Cooper, Cleveland Lee, William McCoy, Alice Battle, Henrietta McCoy Cox, Sara Trotman, Nattie Foster, Amy Foster, Mattie Bell Lee and Barsha White Cox.
Although Rev. Billups called the original group together, he was not the assigned minister. Other ministers were called in. Some of them were women. Namely, Sisters Mary Bray and Mary Williams.
After worshipping in the small house for a short while, Benny Gallenback, a white contractor, built a church for the group where the now, First Baptist Church of Money Point is located. Their dream was beginning to materialize.
Around 1910, Rev. Billups carried the group to the Virginia Annual Conference of the A.M.E. Church, professing a desire to become affiliated with the conference. After being accepted, Rev. Billups became their minister.
The following ministers served while the church was located at Money Point: Rev. Billups, Rev. Thomas, Rev. Davis, and Rev. J. J. Jones.
In 1913, Rev. J. J. Jones brought the group to South Hill, after Copper Smith, a contractor, built a frame church at 916 Middle Street. The church was then Mount Olive. The street was then known as Franklin Street.
Monies were raised to pay on the building mortgage by (1) rallies, (2) holiday parties, (3) ox roasts, and (4) pig roasts. Local Bands from Berkley provided music for the parties and roasts. The admission to these affairs was five cents. A parsonage was built next door to the church, and both parsonage and church were paid for by 1941.
After worshiping in Mount Olive for a number of years, the members decided they need a larger edifice in which to worship. Fund raising projects were then started for the new edifice. Under the pastoral leadership of Rev. D. P. Felton, New Mount Olive was built. New Mount Olive was dedicated in 1953. Their dream had materialized.
Rev. Louis L. Carter came to New Mount Olive in May, 1974. During his time as minister, the congregation was spiritually and financially blessed. The membership and finances were tripled, air conditioning was installed, and plans were made to construct an educational building. Land behind the church was purchased for this purpose; however, city ordinances prevented the congregation from continuing the expansion project. The congregation’s dream was delayed but not denied. After three years of prayerful persistence, the congregation purchased land on Old Campostella Road. Rev. Carter was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in 1978.
Rev. James H. Johnson was appointed to lead New Mount Olive in 1985. Under his leadership, the land on Campostella Road was paid off in December, 1985. Bishop John Hurst Adams led the congregation in a ground breaking service in January, 1988. And on September 7, 1996, the cornerstone was laid by Delegate Lionell Spruill and a grand lodge.
The property at 916 Middle Street was sold in March, 1997. The congregation secured a rental space at Philadelphia Church of God in Christ; 921 Canal Drive in Chesapeake, Virginia; to worship in for a period of time until the property on Old Campostella Road was complete. New Saint John, A.M.E. Church and Greater St. Andrews A.M.E. Church graciously offered their facilities to worship in early morning or afternoon services but the congregation elected to fellowship on Canal Drive because of its convenient location. Committees were appointed to secure a loan in the amount of $175,000 in February, 1998. On December 18, 1998, a loan was approved in the amount of $175,000 from at First Coastal Bank for the completion of the church building on Old Campostella Road. The congregation and community worked diligently to make the vision a reality. In November of 1999, Rev. Johnson and 27 members of New Mount Olive were granted permission to hold services in the fellowship hall of 1953 Old Campostella Road.
In 2000, Rev. Johnson was assigned to Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church, and Rev. Granger Flythe was assigned New Mount Olive. Under Rev. Flythe, Phase II of the construction project was completed which included: (1) completion of the interior of the sanctuary; (2) kitchen cabinets; (3) a sound system, steeple; (4) furniture for the sanctuary - including pews and (5) and the church marquee was built by Trustee Andrew Gray. The offices were fully furnished and kneeling pads around the altar were installed. A 15-passenger van was purchased under his administration. Bishop Vinton R. Anderson dedicated the completed church in February, 2004.
Rev. Ira K. McMillan, Jr. was appointed as pastor of New Mount Olive in June, 2008. Under his leadership the church van was paid off, a new concrete walkway was installed, the heating and cooling system was updated, and a new roof was installed. Additionally, the congregation purchased a new organ and new pulpit chairs. Pastor McMillan also led the congregation in renaming the fellowship hall in honor Rev. James H. Johnson. Pastor McMillian retired in May of 2017.
New Mount Olive’s present pastor, Rev. Christian J. Savage, came to the church in June, 2017.
Ministers who have served from the beginning until the present are:
- Rev. Billups
- Rev. Thomas
- Rev. Davis
- Rev. J. J. Jones
- Rev. Batts
- Rev. W. Dove
- Rev. Billups, Jr.
- Rev. Gordon
- Rev. Mackey
- Rev. Shaw
- Rev. J. A. Beckett
- Rev. J. P. Foster
- Rev. Gamble
- Rev. Cornelius Moore
- Rev. H. L. James
- Rev. F. M. Fairley
- Rev. D. P. Felton
- Rev. H. W. Bell
- Rev. C. L. Smith
- Rev. H. H. Lee
- Rev. S. A. Raines
- Rev. W. A. Woods
- Rev. T. R. Spencer
- Rev. Louis L. Carter
- Rev. Raymond Pittman
- Rev. E. H. Terrell, Sr.
- Rev. Henry E. Jefferson
- Rev. William Grant, Jr.
- Rev. James H. Johnson
- Rev. Granger Flythe
- Rev. Ira K. McMillian
- Rev. Christian J. Savage