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History comes to life as Wadley’s Mount Olive celebrates 150thcomment (0)

July 24, 2008

By Jenifer Martin Siemens

Imagine traveling two hours by wagon on a six-mile journey to church … in 2008.

Some families did just that May 18 as they made the trek to Mount Olive Baptist Church, Wadley, to commemorate its 150th anniversary.

The wagon train brought to life the level of commitment pioneering church members displayed in Mount Olive Baptist’s early days, said Pastor Alan Hurst. “We want what’s happened in the last 150 years to motivate us for the future. I believe God has great blessings in store and that the best is yet to come for Mount Olive Baptist Church.”

With 125 attending the anniversary service, the Carey Baptist Association church’s youth highlighted church milestones through skits directed by member Lisa Mask. The skits featured three significant years in the church’s history — 1958, 1908 and 1858, the year of its birth.

Lifetime member and anniversary historian Joyce Brand said details of Mount Olive’s founding are sketchy because minutes from the church’s first 50 years are missing. She did discover, however, that the first building was made possible through land and logs donated by James Moncas and his wife, Margaret. 

Brand also discovered that her father, Roy Williams, helped construct Mount Olive Baptist’s second and current structure on the former hitching grounds for wagons and horses located across the street from the original building. She said early church records reveal that crops were planted near the church to pay pastors’ salaries. In the early 1900s, one pastor’s annual salary totaled about $14 paid in bushels of corn and peas and pounds of flour, meat and butter.

Through the years, the church — which has a regular attendance of about 60 — has seen God’s hand move numerous times.

“We’ve seen quite a few miracles over the years in terms of answered prayer,” Brand said. “Mount Olive has been a light in our community and has represented Christ well. I’m very thankful to have been a part of that.”

In the worship celebration before dinner on the grounds, Gene Webb of the Alabama Baptist Historical Commission honored the church with a commemorative plaque. In addition, Jamie Baldwin, an associate in the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions’ Sunday School office, recognized Mount Olive Baptist’s impact in the state with a certificate of appreciation. New Carey Association Director of Missions Bruce Willis attended the festivities as well. 

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