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It was during the year 1882 that birth was given to the Mount Olive Primitive Baptist Church. Father Henry Griffin, Rev. Phillip H. Davis, Rhistory1ev. Wilson C. Holiday and a few faithful Christians organized the church under a “Bush Harbor” located on Stuart Street between West Bay and Forsyth Street. Rev. Wilson served as first pastor. From 1882-1906 the original Church was organized under a “Bush Harbor” located on Stuart Street between West Bay and Forsyth Streets.  Through faith in God, and a good captain at the helm, the church membership grew and after several years the first wood structure was built at Forsyth and Johnson Streets.


During these early years, Reverend Richard Edwards and Father P.H. Davis, as pastors, contributed much to the growth of the church. The Sunday School was organized in 1885 with brother Essup Williams serving as the first Superintendent


The following pioneers were members of the first Board of Deacons: Edmond Wilson, Essup Williams, Charlie White and Dennis White.  Working along beside these brothers, who played an important role in the spiritual and material growth of the church were a group of ladies known as Church Mothers.  They were: Sister Thompson, Patsy Holiday and Sue Luke.  Among other members added during the pastorate of Rev. Holiday were: Mother Wilson, Christine Holmes, Huldia Davis, Susan Holiday, Sarah Bishop, Sissie Jackson, Jeanie Lawrence and others.  A few members desired to serve in the choir and Mother Jeanie Lawrence served as the first organist.  Deacon Edmond Wilson served as the first clerk of the church.

The purchase of the first piano was made and Thomas Smith was made the first President of the choir.  Brothers who were ordained and served as deacons during this period were:  Robert Anderson, Thomas Smith, Isaac Hamilton, Eugene Matthews. Anna Russell, Sallie Knight, Mamie Mickens, Mary Delaney, Hattie Gordon, Bessie Harris, Mother Bennett and others were some of the first sisters to serve in the church.  Along with the responsibility of deacon of District #1, Eugene Matthews was appointed Chairman of the Board of Deacons in 1920.  These deacons serving as District Leaders all gave added strength to the continued growth of the church.

The course had been clearly charted by now, in 1906 the church, continuing to grow in membership, it was moved and rebuilt at the corner of Cleveland and Monroe Street under the dynamic leadership of Rev. T. E. Davenport. Rev. Davenport’s pastoral tenure was of great success, as he sowed the seed of the word of God. After the pastoral tenure of Rev T. E. Davenport, the following pastors also contributed to the history of Mount Olive: Rev. C. Kelly, Rev. K. D. Davis and Rev. George Washington.history2

God never leaves his sheep alone. Thus through the Holy Spirit another man of God was directed to leadership of this great people in the person of Rev. G. S. Crawford.  In 1915, the pastor divided the church membership into districts.  This pastorate gave divine untiring service and leadership.  Many accomplishments continued to increase, and the church moved forward both in harmony and peace.

A ship must never be without a captain, thus the pastoral tenure of Rev. L. R. Shine gave leadership to the history of Mt. Olive at the Cleveland and Monroe Street location in 1926.  Under his leadership the following brothers were ordained to serve as deacons: James Grant, Haywood Robinson, O. B. Nicholas, R. H Frazier, and Willie McKeever and by their sides the following sisters served as deaconesses” Annie Belle Smith, Sissy Robinson, Ellen Jones, Mary Kirkland, Ella McKeever, Julia Holmes and Rosa Jackson.

Rev. R. H. Frazier served as Acting Pastor during the interim period of Rev. L. R. Shine and the calling of Rev. A. L. Gainous.

The pastoral tenure of Rev. A. L. Gainous was inspirational and new life was added to the church.  Brother Rentie Weston was ordained as a history3deacon during this time.  Upon the termination of the services of Rev. Gainous, Rev. O. B. Nicholas served as the Acting Pastor until the church called Rev. J. A. Williams as pastor.


Under the leadership of Rev. J. A. Williams, the following brothers were chosen to become deacons: Namon Anderson, Watty Frazier, William Hunter and Henry Thomas. Rev. Willie McKeever was ordained to the ministry also during this time. God blessed the labor of this man in giving new life to the Sunday School and the Youth Department of the Church. Rev. J. M. Way joined during this period and was later called to pastor the church after the resignation of Rev. Williams.


With the growth of our Jacksonville community, it became necessary to move and find another location.  Our pastor, Rev. J. M. Way and the church officials now had the task of locating property for building of a new church.  The pastor, deacons, trustees and other officials and members held a “Ground Breaking” Service at Myrtle Avenue and Fourth Street for our present location on Sunday, February 15, 1948, “So we built we the walls, for the people has a mind to work.” The building progressed and the Corner Stone Laying Ceremonies were held on Sunday, January 21, 1951.  Our National president, the late W. M. Scott of Tampa, Florida, preached the Dedication Sermon.  The church continued to move forward, Rev. J. M Way served faithfully until his demise.

After the death of Rev. J. M. Way, Rev. W. M. McKeever served as Interim Pastor, at which time Rev. Haywood Robinson assisted Rev. McKeever in services.

The church called for a Pastor, and Rev. J. M. Dixon accepted and became its leader on Sunday, September 1, 1953.  Rev. Dixon urged and encouraged the members to


complete the church, which they did, and dedicated the main auditorium with a service on Sunday, June 24, 1956.  Mortgage Burning Services for the church was held on Sunday, October 28, 1962.  Deacons ordained during Rev. Dixon tenure: William Jones, Robert Thomas, Rhudolph Scott, Charlie Leon, Lonnie Hart, O. J. Jones, J. C. Harris and Birnett Gee.  During this time three young men were licensed to the ministry: Namon Rodgers, Williams C. Barker, Jr. and Robert Thomas.  Rev. Dixon was held in high esteem as a national, state and district leader and was a dynamic gospel preacher.  On August 30, 1975 he resigned after 22 years of faithful leadership in the Jacksonville area.

After Rev. J. M. Dixon tenure, Rev. Robert Thomas served as interim pastor until the church called Rev. W. C. Barker, Jr. to serve Mt Olive Church as pastor on January 6, 1976.  The membership continued to grow spiritually, financially and served as a beacon of light to the community.  Robert Cleveland, Spencer Wiggins and Vernon Harrison were ordained as Deacons.

Rev. Wardeen Mason from Chicago, Illinois joined during the pastorate of Rev. Barker.  After the resignation of Rev. Barker in August 1980, Rev. Mason was instrumental in keeping the Mt. Olive family together in fellowship and love.  Rev. Mason served as interim Pastor from August 1980 until June 1981.

In June 1981, Rev. Robert Leo Cox was called to the pastorate of the church.  He displayed an attitude of Christianity, friendliness and integrity.  After coming to Mt. Olive, he reorganized several auxiliaries and committees.  The following brothers were ordained as deacons to serve the church: Samuel Hogan, Freddie L. Brown, Danny Jackson and Leon Smith.  Brother Frederick Pinkney made known his call to the ministry and was licensed by the church.

On the first Sunday in March 1985, Elder Carl Blackmon was called to the pastorate of the Mt. Olive Church.  Under his leadership, Elder Blackmon, re-established the Baptist Training Union, initiated the Hour of Power Evening Service and established an ongoing Building Fund Program. Donald Payne and Johnnie Chatman were ordained as deacons under his leadership. Elder Blackmon terminated his services as pastor on December 28, 1990.history4

After Elder Blackmon departed, Elder F. E. Wrease served as interim pastor from January 1991 unto December 1992.

Elder Lee Harris is the current pastor of Mt. Olive Primitive Baptist Church.  He began his pastorate at Mt. Olive on September 4, 1992.

Elder Harris has labored many hours establishing new ministries and reinstating others such as:

  • Matrons Auxiliary
  • Children’s Church
  • Couples Ministry
  • Christian Education and Scholarship Fund
  • Health Care Ministry
  • Men’s Fellowship Ministry
  • Women’s Fellowship Ministry
  • Scouting Ministry

Primitive Baptist Training Union

Many new committees have also been established under the very capable leadership of Elder Harris such as:

  • Benevolent and Social Outreachhistory5
  • Programs, Calendar and Publicity
  • Finance
  • Stewardship and New Member

Evangelism and Outreach

Elder Harris has also been instrumental in directing the Church in becoming Incorporated.  In addition to all of the many long, productive hours Elder Harris dedicated to the Church, he also is involved in numerous other religious and community activities that Mt. Olive and many other Churches have benefited from.  Some of these activities include:

  • Past First Vice-President, Florida State Primitive Baptist Convention
  • Past Camp Commission Chairman, Florida State Primitive Baptist Convention
  • Past Chairman of Miracle Nursing and Convalescent Home Board of Directors
  • Southeastern Regional Vice President-National Primitive Bapt. Convention USA
  • President, Jacksonville Inter-Denominational Ministerial Alliance
  • Assisted in the establishment of the Myrtle Avenue Neighborhood Association
  • Member, Board of Directors, Religious Conference Managers Association
  • Past Chairman, Jacksonville Weed and Seed.
  • Chairman, Board of \directors. Community Alliance Development Corp. Inc.
  • Member, African American Ministers \leadership Council, a National Organization of People For the American Way Foundation
  • Member, Board of Directors FAMU Institute on Urban Policy and Commerce.

Founding Member Jacksonville Leadership Coalition

Elder Lee Harris has also provided leadership in developing several publications at Mt. Olive as follows:

  • Program, Policies, and Procedures Handbook
  • Members Orientation Handbook

Pastor’s Class, New Membership Handbook

Other accomplishments are:

Additional Parking, Lighting for Parking Area, Property on Hart and Myrtle Avenue which is used for the Touching Lives Ministry, renovation of the building adjacent to the main sanctuary which was formerly known as the Hillman Property and created the Mt. Olive Administrative Plaza and Learning Center, which houses a state of the art Computer Lab. During the renovation, an elevator was added to the church.

The Touching Lives Health Care Ministry was established (a community outreach aids ministry), The SAY –YES after school homework help program and an emergency food pantry, along with a USDA food commodity distribution program.

In 2005 Elder Harris led the church in a restoration project of the church exterior and complete renovation of the main sanctuary, over $550,000.00 worth of renovations and property purchases have taken place under Elder Harris watch at Mt. Olive.

Elder Lee Harris was educated in the public schools of Maryland.  He studied further at Seminary External Division, Tallahassee Bible Institute, The Ambassador College, and Rutgers Graduate School of Business.  He recently completed a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Education from Jacksonville Theological Seminary.

The U. S. department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation has named Elder Lee E. Harris for the year 2000, recipient of the FBI’s Community Leadership Award.  This award is given on an annual basis to a deserving individual who has had a significant, positive impact on the quality of life in the Jacksonville Area.

In October, 2001 Pastor Harris was voted President of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance (IMA) to take office in January, 2002.

Elder Harris has been Nominated for Induction in the inaugural Florida Religious Hall of Fame on October 26, 2002..

Elder Harris is married to the lovely Betty V. Harris, they have one daughter Paula and one Granddaughter Ashanti.