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These Storied Walls

Mission Church

In 1988, Rev. Wilson was transferred to Cole Memorial UMC in Charlotte, and a new parsonage family briefly moved into the old church parsonage. Rev. K. Wesley Judy, the son of missionaries, was reared in Korea. Even as the Judy family were unpacking, however, work continued on the new church parsonage. On 30 July, the Judys moved into the new parsonage, and an Open House and Blessing of the Parsonage was scheduled for 14 August. Sale of bonds began in earnest. Members pledged a total of $19,754.00 on 11 September, and bonds were sold that same evening. As part of a novel fund-raising effort to benefit the parsonage fund, Talent Sunday was celebrated on 30 April 1989. Members were given $5 as seed money to be used in some way, then returned with its fruits on June 25, Celebrating Our Gifts Sunday. Members organized suppers, yard sales, sold baked goods, crafts, flowers, and sponsored musical presentations. By the end of June, the project raised more than $9,000.00.

During May 1989 Homecoming Services, the congregation honored those who had been members of Mt. Olivet for 60 years or more. They included: Wiley Umberger (75 years); Ada Linn Dayvault and Elsie Cline Freeze (74 years); A. E. Barnhardt and Carrie Litaker Holshouser (72 years); Elizabeth Winecoff Beaver (69 years); Audrey Shinn Bost and Louise Earnhardt Earnhardt (66 years); Hettie Watts Litaker (64 years); Nell Cook Hopkins (63 years); William F. Penninger, Jr. (61 years); and Thelma Denny Eudy, Rena Goodnight Fink, and Helen Hawkins Fink (60 years).

Work on renovation of the old sanctuary continued. The UMW beautified the narthex areas, and protective coverings were placed on the stained-glass windows. A beautiful 14-foot artificial Christmas tree was donated in December 1989 by Earl Goodman, Lillian Goodman, and Delphina Penninger. In 1992, the Trustees recommended that a formal parlor be built at a cost of $22,000, and a History Room Committee was appointed in March 1993. With the generous support of Hazel Poole and Sarah Hough, the old Sunday School office was transformed into an attractive secure place for church artifacts and records. The completed History Room was dedicated on 5 June 1994. Church Historian Sarah Hough continued to compile annual church scrapbooks and place them in the new history room.

Although Mt. Olivet had always strongly supported worldwide missions, its most important mission emphasis began with a visit by Bishop Misheck Kanake and Jennifer Kanake in October 1989. Rev. Kanake spoke of the progress made in Kenya since he filled the Mt. Olivet pulpit in October 1977, and reported that three demonstration farms were in operation. Storerooms had been built to protect food from wandering elephants and buffaloes, and a gravity pipeline had been built to carry water to villages whose water supplies were as much as 15 miles away. Rev. Judy was moved by Kanake’s statement that None of you have ever come to see us, and the Kenyan Mission Project and Building Team was organized. 18 persons volunteered to travel to Kenya, and 40 persons committed to support the project. The Kenya Team set a goal of raising $10,000.00 to send to Rev. Misheck Kanake for construction materials and other costs, and embarked on a series of fund-raising events including a BBQ chicken dinner in May 1991. At a special Night of Music on 21 April 1991, an offering was taken to support the Kenyan mission. With fund-raisers, vaccinations and pre-flight jitters behind them, 16 volunteers participated in the first Kenya mission in July 1991: Roger and Debbie Myers; Rick, Delinda, Trip and Scott Rodgers; Marty Ford; Jami Rodgers; Wes Hathaway; Carolyn Goodman; John Brown; Beth Caldwell; Jennifer Goodman; Jim Stowe; Rev. Wes Judy and Josh Judy.

In addition to the Kenyan ministry, Mt. Olivet began participation in the rewarding ministry of Habitat for Humanity in March 1992. The Mt. Olivet volunteers, under the leadership of Jan Sykes, decided to put vinyl siding on the next Habitat home and to raise $1,800.00 for the project. They began a series of dinners as part of their fund-raising effort. For the past decade, the church has continued to support the successful Habitat program, making the dream of home ownership continue to come true for area families.

4 November 1990 was W. L. Harris Day at Mt. Olivet, as Mr. Harris prepared to move to Lexington to live with his daughter, Myra, and her family. W. L. and Clariece Harris joined Mt. Olivet in 1938, where he taught Sunday School for 55 years. In addition to holding many offices in the church, Mr. Harris faithfully took a special interest in the care of the greenery and plants around the church, the cemetery, and the church physical plant. He often served on church building and fund-raising committees.

Years of commitment by Sunday School teachers was recognized on Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day in March 1990. During Sunday School, each honoree was given a gardenia to wear, then invited to a covered-dish luncheon after morning worship. Certificates of appreciation were distributed and pins given to those who had served more than 20 years. Teachers included: W. L. Harris (54 years); Rick Rodgers, Sr. (45 years); Earline King (42 years); Cliff Evans (32 years); Richard Swaringen (31 years); Bill Ford (29 years); Mildred Ford (26 years); Glen Julian (24 years); Crystal Julian and Jann Johnson (20 years); Lula Davis, Jeter Lee, Ron Pare, Hazel Poole (17 years); Beth Cook (15 years); Rick Rodgers, Jr. (10 years); Pearle Fink and Clarence Horton (8 years); Padgett Goodman, Linda Hathaway, and Lawrence Vincent (5 years); Becky Eudy, Darlene Goble, Peggy Litaker, and Jane Marlow (4 years); Marcia Carpenter and Debbie Myers (3 years); Lonnie Coggins, Lin Harwood, Sandra Harwood, Jeanie Measmer (2 years); Linda Chewning, Hope Johnson, Margaret Foster, and Wes Judy (1 year); Sunday School Supt. Keith Overcash (3 years). Also honored were Children’s Ministries Coordinators Marcia Carpenter and Gloria Cartrett (2 years), and Supt. Linda Hathaway. Substitutes include Mary Lou Dalton, Delinda Rodgers, Henrietta Allen, Carlene Gregory, and Mark Goodman.

The music program has been a vital part of the Mt. Olivet ministry from the earliest days. In August 1992, Choir Director Ed Fink honored his choir members for their years of faithful service. Included were: Sarah Hough (52 years); Bill Fink (40 years); Glen Julian (35 years); Betty Lee (32 years); Jann Johnson and Bob Lee (30 years); Delaine Parker and Renda Welch (25 years); Joel Johnson (24 years); Sharon Miller (16 years); Prebble Henrickson (12 years); Hope Beam (11 years); Eddie Hathaway (10 years); Randy Childers and Meredith Spry (9 years); Jane Marlow (7 years); Jennifer Triece, Sandra Harwood, Lin Harwood (5 years); Wes Judy and Joe Morris (4 years); Beth Burrell, Doris Barbee, Shawn Gregory, Sandra McBride, Meredith McBride (2 years); and Betty Sethna and Paula Judy (1 year). In 1993, a Youth Choir was formed with four members, in addition to the Junior Choir. The first annual Singing on the Mount service in October 1997 was successful, with 80 persons in attendance, and church members have continued to meet on the first Sunday after Labor Day, to enjoy great singing and homemade ice cream.

Special Music during the past decade has been provided by the John Wesley Quartet; The Johnson Trio; The 3Ds (Donna Childers, Donna Earnhardt, Donna LeRoy); Randy and Donna Childers; Joe Morris; Ed Fink; The Chancel Choir; Kay Yates on organ, piano, and keyboard, singing, and leading the Bell Choir; and by numerous others. In October 1998, Sandra Harwood resigned as Director of Cherub, Choristers and Youth Choirs, and Donna Childers took the position. The congregation celebrated Ed Fink’s thirtieth year as choir director on 1 August 1999 with special services in the morning and that evening at a 6 o’clock concert, and by the presentation of a portrait. During 2000, the Bell Choir raised funds to buy tunics and two octaves of tone chimes. Other special gifts enriched the music program. Ben and Mary Iris Goodman Isenhour donated a spinet piano in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Isenhour and Mr. and Mrs. A. F. Goodman. Earlier, Mr. and Mrs. Isenhour had presented a gift of chimes to the church. Tone chimes donated by Phyllis Rodgers in memory of Rena G. Fink were dedicated on 1 April 2001.

Under Rev. Judy’s leadership, new service and worship traditions emerged. Children’s worship during the Sunday morning worship service began on 10 January 1993, with Renee Martin and Rev. Paula Judy as the first teachers. The tradition of honoring new church members at a covered dish luncheon began in January 1994. In October 1994, Kelley Watkins joined the staff as Director of Children and Youth and as the new director of the Junior Choir. The annual tradition of placing luminaries outside the church gave way at Christmas 1994 to having members donate lights on a Christmas tree in honor or memory of loved ones. The annual Hanging of the Greens service became a much-anticipated event. During special Lenten services, ashes were imposed at the Ash Wednesday service, and Rev. Judy conducted services from 12 Noon to 3 p. m. on Good Friday, during which worshipers could attend at the most convenient time.

A 10-member Kenya Team began raising funds for a return mission schedule for July 1994. Special offerings were taken, funds were raised through suppers, and the Boy Scouts hosted a pancake breakfast in March 1994. Members of the 1994 Team included: John and Mary Ann Brown; Nick and Jennifer DiFoggio; Rev. Wes Judy; Rick and Delinda Rodgers; Scott Rodgers; Bert Smith; and Jim Stowe. Upon their return, Rev. Judy wrote in his Journal that there is a dorm (on which we worked) and a classroom building and a dining hall on the Farm on the road to the Game Park that will enable Africa Rural Institute to teach their people how to better care for their families, their animals and their land.

Although the Kenya Team returned to Maua, Kenya in 1997 to build a library at the Africa Rural Institute in Kiengu, Rev. Judy was unable to accompany them as he was recovering from injuries he received during a church league softball game. Those who worked on the J.B. and Sarah Hough Library and Chapel included: John and Mary Ann Brown, Laurie Chichester, Andy Rodgers, Bert Smith, Joel Johnson, Rick and Delinda Rodgers, Scott Rodgers, and Jim Stowe.

Scout Troop 34, sponsored by Mt. Olivet, has long been one of the largest and most successful of the area scouting programs. The program has long enjoyed superior leadership with Scout leaders such as Otis Rodgers and Lonnie Coggins, Don McManus, James Riggs, and David Settlemeyer. Annual fund-raising events have enabled Scouts to attend events such as the National Camporee and visit Washington, D. C. At local events, Troop 34 patrols routinely are recognized as outstanding blue ribbon campers.

The congregation were faithful stewards during Rev. Judy’s pastorate. The parsonage debt was paid in full in April 1998, well ahead of schedule. With that debt paid, the church began to look at the extensive renovations necessary to preserve the beloved old sanctuary and buildings. The Trustees and Finance Committee made recommendations for needed repairs and renovation to the Administrative Board, and the Board scheduled a church conference for 7 June so that the congregation could consider the project. The congregational voted overwhelmingly to pursue extensive renovations for the physical plant, and a nine-person building committee was appointed: Doris Barbee, Bob Cook, Jim Fisher, Bill Ford, Eddie Hathaway, Ben Isenhour, James Riggs, Dorothy Simmons, and Joey Untz. The Committee was charged with both finalizing construction plans and also with developing a financial plan for securing necessary funds. On 12 July 1998, the congregation approved the committee’s plans, authorized a construction loan for the project, and set 16 August 1998 as Harvest Sunday, at which time the congregation could offer one-time gifts to begin the project. The initial offering yielded $47,000.00 for the restoration project. By January 2000, the restoration project was almost completed. About $200,000.00 had been raised for the project at that time. In 2000, the church budget exceeded $200,000.00 for the first time.

The Kenya Team 2000, which included two high school students and one college student, raised funds to enable Rev. Kanake to purchase a van and to build a girl’s dormitory. Following the return of the team in 2000, Delinda Rodgers announced the need for financial assistance for Kenyan children whose families were unable to afford the costs of their education. Individuals and Sunday School classes in the church responded by gathering and sending funds to Rev. Kanake to subsidize the education of these children for the coming school year. Terrorist alerts in Africa led to the disappointing cancellation of the scheduled 2003 mission to Kenya, but the Kenya Team is in the process of forwarding funds to Misheck Kanake for the purchase of computers and other needs, so that the work in Kenya can proceed.

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